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Capital Boston
Nickname The Bay State
Official Language English
Governor Deval Patrick, D
Senator John Kerry, D
(202) 224-2742
Senator Scott Brown, R
(202) 224-4543
Ratification of Constitution/or statehood February 6, 1788 (6th)
Flag of Massachusetts Motto: "Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem" (By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty)

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state[1] in the New England region of the northeastern United States. Its capital city is Boston. The name is derived from the Indian tribe that lived there, the "Massachusett". It is one of four states officially known as "commonwealths"; there are no practical differences between a "commonwealth" and a "state". It is well noted for being a bastion of American leftism and is often called "Taxachusetts."


Massachusetts was first settled by the Pilgrims who emigrated from England on the Mayflower in 1620 and founded a settlement at Plymouth, and soon afterward by the much larger group the Puritans, who founded the "Massachusetts Bay Colony". Both groups came to America seeking religious freedom.

Harvard College was founded in 1638 making Boston the intellectual center of New England

The colony was a major center of the American Revolution, as events such as the Boston Massacre and Boston Tea Party helped to create a desire for national independence among the Americans. The first battle of the war was fought at Lexington and Concord; the first great American victory was the expulsion of the British from Boston on "Evacuation Day," March 17, 1776.

Shortly after the war ended, tax protesters in the western part of the state revolted in Shays' Rebellion, a major factor leading to demands for a stronger national government at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. Massachusetts abolished slavery in 1783 and ratified the Constitution on February 6, 1788.

During the 1800s, Massachusetts was marked by increasing industrialization, including the founding of textile mills in towns such as Lowell. Important historical figures during this time included Horace Mann, an important educational reformer, and Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, two of the main contributors to the Transcendental movement.

In the 1900s, Massachusetts moved from a factory-based economy to a more service-based economy, sparked by growth in its local colleges and universities as well as by a collapse in the textile industry during the 1920s. This encouraged increased suburbanization, leading to the current demographic situation in which the population is concentrated in suburbs around the city of Boston. In 1987, the state received federal highway funding for the Central Artery/Tunnel Project, known colloquially as the Big Dig. The $14.7 billion grant is the largest federal highway project ever approved.


Liberal icon Ted Kennedy, the third longest-serving Senator in U.S. history, died from a brain tumor in August 2009, marking the end of an era. During the 2004 Presidential Election the Democratic super-majority in the state legislature blocked the Republican Governor Mitt Romney from appointing an interim senator should John Kerry be elected President. The legislature changed the law back again after Kennedy's death, allowing Governor Deval Patrick, a Democrat, to appoint a temporary replacement for Kennedy. He chose former Democratic National Committee chairman Paul Kirk. Kirk did not seek a full term of his own, and a special election was held on January 19, 2010.

Republican State Senator Scott Brown pulled a major upset, defeating Democrat Attorney General Martha Coakley in the election. Brown rode on a wave of voter anger at President Obama and his health care overhaul and won by a 52%-47% margin.[2]

Although once a bastion of social conservatism (the term "Banned in Boston" is still in widespread use)[3] Massachusetts is known as one of the most Catholic and most liberal states. It is the most populous state to have all-Democratic congressional representation (before Brown won in 2010). It was called "Taxachusetts" because of its high tax rate, which has since been lowered by a series of Republican governors in the 1990s and 2000s (William Weld, Paul Cellucci, Jane Swift and Mitt Romney); they were among the most liberal Republican governors in the country.[4]

Its current U.S. Senators are John Kerry (who unsuccessfully ran for President in 2004) and Scott Brown.

The current governor, elected in 2006 over Republican and former Lieutenant Governor Kerry Murphy Healey,[5] is Deval L. Patrick, who was the first Democrat to take the office in 16 years, and the first African American to win the post.[6][7] A strong liberal in the state that legalized homosexual marriage, Patrick signed a bill which allowed out-of-state gay couples to marry in Massachusetts. In a speech afterward, Patrick was recorded openly mocking conservatives and the Bible by stating, "In five years now, ... the sky has not fallen, the earth has not opened to swallow us all up."[8]

Patrick is faring poorly in polls, as he has been ineffective in getting his own priorities enacted, and in dealing with the recession of 2008.

Massachusetts is the home of Presidents John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and John F. Kennedy.

Massachusetts has been a blue state in presidential elections since 1928 except when it favored Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ronald Wilson Reagan both terms.

In 2012, an Elementary school in Bellingham, MA attempted to take out the word, "God" from the song, "God Bless the USA" by Lee Greenwood for a school concert. The attempt failed, as parents in the community complained. [1]

Elected Officials



Notes and references

  1. It is one of four states officially known as "commonwealths"; there are no practical differences between a "commonwealth" and a "state".
  2. See statistical analysis of 2010 vote