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Massachusetts is a state of the United States of America, part of the New England region. The state capital is Boston. Massachusetts is properly called the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, although there is no legal distinction between a state and a commonwealth.

Several U.S. Navy ships have been named USS Massachusetts in honor of this state.



The colony was named after a local Indian tribe whose name means "a large hill place". The Pilgrims established their settlement at Plymouth in 1620, arriving on the Mayflower. They were soon followed by a larger group of English Calvinists the Puritans, who established the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Massachusetts was one of the 13 English colonies that revolted against British rule in the American Revolution. Although the Puritans came to Massachusetts as religious dissidents, they intolerant of religious beliefs other than their own and coerced non-believers into accepting their Calvinist orthodoxy. Their narrow mindedness generated yet more religious dissidents: Anne Hutchinson, Roger Williams, and Thomas Hooker left Massachusetts and moved south because of the Puritan' colonial theorcratic government. Puritan repression had unexpected consequences. Williams ended up founding the colony of Rhode Island and Hooker founded Connecticut. Puritan religious fanaticism waned over thge next century as its irrelevance was exposed by experience on the New England frontier and in international trade and as new generations of New England intellectuals encountered the European Enlightenment.

On February 9, 1775 the British Parliament declared Massachusetts to be in rebellion and sent additional troops to restore order. An African-American named Crispus Attucks was one of the first Americans killed during the American Revolution, in Boston on March 5, 1770, at an event that has come to be called the Boston Massacre. On February 6, 1788 Massachusetts became the sixth state to ratify the United States Constitution. On March 15, 1820 the area of Maine was separated from Massachusetts, of which it had been a non-contiguous part, and entered the Union as a State in its own right.

See also: Patriot's Day, Shays' Rebellion


See: List of Massachusetts counties

Massachusetts is bordered on the north by New Hampshire and Vermont, on the west by New York, on the south by Connecticut and Rhode Island, and on the east by the Atlantic Ocean. The islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket lie off the southeast coast. Boston is the largest city; however, most of the population of the Boston metropolitan area (approximately 4,000,000) does not live in the city.


Massachusetts total gross state product for 1999 was $262 billion, placing it 11th in the nation. As of 2002, its Per Capita Personal Income was $39,244 or third in the nation. [1]

Its agricultural outputs are seafood, nursery stock, dairy products, cranberries, and vegetables. Its industrial outputs are machinery, electric equipment, scientific instruments, printing and publishing. Tourism is also a key sector. Other sectors vital to the Massachusetts economy include higher education, health care, and financial services.


Higher education and research

Massachusetts contains only 2.5% of the U.S. population, but 4.5% of its four-year colleges and universities (see full list of colleges and universities in Massachusetts). Eight Boston-area institutions, (Boston College, Boston University, Brandeis, Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, Tufts, and UMass/Boston, call themselves "research universities;" they became, according to them, "engines of economic growth" following World War II, and currently contribute $7 billion annual to the local economy. The population of metropolitan Boston surges noticeably during the school year due to the concentration of colleges and universities in the area (see list of colleges and universities in metropolitan Boston).

On Tuesday, March 7, UMass President Jack M. Wilson ordered the University of Massachusetts Lowell Poll to suspend polling on the 2006 Governor of Massachisetts race because it was learned that Lowell Poll Director Louis C. DiNatale persuaded then gubernatorial candidate (Republican, now Independent) Christy P. Mihos to hire Barry Hock, DiNatale's former business partner and currently his assistant to conduct a private poll.

Massachusetts is home to one Ivy League university, Harvard; and three of the Seven Sisters: Mount Holyoke, Smith, and Wellesley. Technology-oriented universities include MIT and Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Notable Massachusetts colleges that are outside the eastern Massachusetts area include Clark University, Tufts University Veterinary School, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, the Five Colleges of the Pioneer Valley (Mount Holyoke, Smith, Amherst, Hampshire and the flagship campus of the University of Massachusetts) and Williams. Music schools include Berklee and the New England Conservatory. Massachusetts also is home to well-known independent research institutions, including Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Marine Biological Laboratory.

Massachusetts U.S. Congressional delegation

Massachusetts State Government

Administrative Branch

Legislative Branch

The Massachusetts state legislature is formally styled the "Great and General Court of the Commonwealth". It is bicameral. The upper house is the Massachusetts Senate which is composed of 40 members. The lower body, the Massachusetts House of Representatives, has 160 members. In addition to the state legislature, Massachusetts also has an elected Governor's Council, a now largely ceremonial body that formally signs off on all state expenditures and must approve all prisoner pardons and commutations.

Judicial Branch

The highest court is the "Supreme Judicial Court".

Massachusetts State Constitution


Selected chronological compilation

Massachusetts local government

Massachusetts law maintains a distinction between "cities" and "towns"; the largest town in population is Framingham. Politically, the main difference between a town and a city is that a town is governed under the Town Meeting or Representative Town Meeting form of government (with a Board of Selectmen serving as a sort of joint executive), whereas a city has a city council (and may or may not have a mayor, a city manager, or both). This distinction dates to the 1820s; prior to that, all municipalities were governed by Town Meeting. There are now a number of municipalities which are legally cities and thus have city councils, but retained the word "town" in their names, including Methuen, Watertown, Weymouth, and Westfield. These cities are legally styled "the city called the Town of X". Massachusetts has a very limited home rule mechanism; in order to exercise jurisdiction outside of these bounds, a municipality must petition the General Court for special legislation giving it that authority.

Massachusetts municipalities are subject to a budgetary law known as "Proposition 2½", by which they may not increase total property-tax revenue by more than 2½% per annum without the approval of the voters in a plebiscite.

Following a November 2003 decision of the state's Supreme Court, Massachusetts became on May 17, 2004, the first state to issue same-gender marriage licenses.

Massachusetts towns and counties

Massachusetts shares with the six New England states a governmental structure known as the "New England town."

In most states, a town is a compact incorporated area. Between the towns are unincorporated areas, usually quite large, which do not belong to any town. In contrast, the state is completely apportioned into counties: every square inch of land belongs to some county. County governments have significant importance, particularly to those living outside towns, and often perform major functions such as operating airports.

In contrast, the cities and towns of Massachusetts divide up all of the land between them; every square inch of Massachusetts belongs to some "town" (or city) and there are no "unincorporated" areas or population centers. This complicates comparisons with other states, as most residents identify strongly with the town or city in which they reside, and not with the "populated places" as defined and used in the U.S. Census Bureau, which in most data products considers towns to be equivalent to (much weaker) townships in other states. (The principal exceptions to this rule are the cities of Boston and Newton and the town of Barnstable, where residents closely identify with a particular "neighborhood" or "village", which has no legal existence in state law but is usually recognized by the Census.)

By the 1990s, most functions of county governments (including operation of courts and road maintenance) had been taken over by the state, and most county governments were seen as inefficient and outmoded. (The exception was, and remains, Barnstable County on Cape Cod, which is the focus of regional planning and environmental management on the Cape.) The government of Suffolk County was substantially integrated with the city government of Boston more than one hundred years ago, to the extent that the members of the Boston city council are ex officio the Suffolk County Commissioners, and Boston's treasurer and auditor fulfill the same offices for the county. Thus, residents of the other three Suffolk County communities do not have a voice on the county commission, but all the county expenses are paid by the city of Boston.

Mismanagement of Middlesex County's public hospital in the mid 1990s left that county on the brink of insolvency, and in 1997 the legislature stepped in by assuming all assets and obligations of the county. The government of Middlesex County was officially abolished on July 11, 1997. Later that year, the Franklin County Commission voted itself out of existence. The law abolishing Middlesex County also provided for the elimination of Hampden County and Worcester County on July 1, 1998. This law was later amended to abolish Hampshire County on January 1, 1999; Essex County on July 1 of that same year; and Berkshire County on July 1, 2000. Chapter 34B of the Massachusetts General Laws provides that other counties may also vote to abolish themselves, or to reorganize as a "regional council of governments", as Hampshire County has done.

Important cities and towns

Massachusetts cities and towns of historical or cultural importance include Boston, Worcester, Springfield, New Bedford, Lowell, Cambridge, Lynn, Salem, Concord, Amherst, Northampton, Pittsfield, Barnstable (the major city of Cape Cod), and Provincetown.

Small towns

Massachusetts cities and towns also include Alford, Massachusetts, Aquinnah, Auburn, Massachusetts, Gosnold, Monroe, Mount Washington, and New Ashford, each of which had a population of less than 400 in the 2000 census.

Famous politicians and public figures from Massachusetts

Political blogs

Professional sports teams

State songs

Massachusetts recognizes three official state songs:

External links

Democratic Resources

dKos diaries and Discussions

See also

Retrieved from "http://localhost../../../m/a/s/Massachusetts.html"

This page was last modified 04:03, 23 December 2010 by dKosopedia user Jbet777. Based on work by Chad Lupkes and Elizabeth Johnson Tsang and dKosopedia user(s) DrDebug, Corncam, Srel89, Norly23, BartFraden, Allamakee Democrat, Lemuel, Lestatdelc, DRolfe, Adam Gaffin, EqualOpportunityCynic, MH in PA, Jugwine, Kagro X and JohnLocke. Content is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

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