History of Massachusetts

Some historians believe that the expedition of the Icelandic Leif Erikson, in the early 11th century, was able to reach these lands. There is no doubt about Juan Caboto’s expedition, which he completed in 1498, arriving on the shores of New England in the service of the English Crown. Four years later, the Englishman Bartholomew Gosnold landed on the coast of Massachusetts, and claimed the region for England. During the first years of the sixteenth century, the coast of New England became an area of ​​fishermen, coming from England, France, Spain and Portugal, while on land the hunters and traders of skins began to have relations with the tribes of the region.

The significant event in the English colonization took place with the arrival of the pilgrims aboard the ship “Mayflower” on September 16, 1620. They settled in Plymouth, after landing in the bay which they later baptized with the name of Provincetown. These settlers established a government elected by a majority. The settlers suffered during the first year the rigors of winter and food shortages, this decimated the population of the colony, since almost half did not survive. During the spring of 1621, the Indians gave them seeds, and taught them how to grow corn, squash and beans. In autumn with the first harvest, the British celebrated with the Indians the first Thanksgiving Day, or Thanksgiving Day, the most important holiday of the year in the United States as it is celebrated without distinction of creed, race and national origin. In 1629, King Charles I of England granted the Puritans the right to create a colony in the Massachusetts Bay. As a result, in 1630 a group of a thousand settlers led by John Withrop arrived, who created a settlement in Salem, but later moved to where Boston is today. The colony prospered rapidly, Harvard College was founded in 1636.

The government of the Massachusetts Bay Colony had established religious freedom among its norms, however this law was not enforced, as excessive religious zeal was exercised which led to the execution of those who demanded freedom of worship. At the same time, the persecution of elements of society who considered themselves heretics or witches was practiced. Thus, in 1642, 19 people were executed in Salem accused of witchcraft. These persecutions led many settlers to seek refuge in other places in New England, which later became new colonies.

Starting in 1660, with the arrival of the Stuart dynasty on the English throne, the crown wanted to fully exercise its power over its subjects in America, so it tried to eliminate the local government. Thus, starting in 1684 England transformed the colonies into the domain of New England, and imposed a governor, Sir Edmund Andross. Years later, in 1691, Queen Mary and King Guillermo granted a new charter to the settlers, and transformed the Domain into the Royal Province of the Bay of Massachusetts, a territory that encompassed Massachusetts, Plymouth, Maine and Nova Scotia. The king also imposed a governor.

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With the massive arrival of new settlers, relations with the Indians deteriorated, this led to a conflict in 1675 known as the War of King Philip. The war ended with the death of about three thousand Indians at the hands of the British aided by the converted Indians.

The prosperity of the colony of Massachusetts grew during the 17th and 18th centuries due, among other factors, to the intense trade with the colonies of the Caribbean. The wars between England and France in Europe and America during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries led the English authorities to require the settlers to pay fixed contributions and other taxes to meet the economic deficit in which the British treasury was.

Thus, when, years after the Seven Years’ War and the end of the Indian Wars, England passed the Stamp Act, (a tax on every public document), which was extended to the colonies, the settlers refused to pay if they were not granted. their representatives in the English parliament. In 1770, popular protests for the approval of the Townshend law, which instituted a tax on imports, led to the attack of a detachment of British soldiers, who reacted by firing on the crowd causing five deaths. This event was called the Boston Massacre, and was used in subsequent years to inflame the souls of the settlers.

In 1773, the passage of a tea tax, the Tea Act, led a group of settlers, the Boston Tea Party, disguised as Indians, to throw overboard the cargo of an East India Company ship. This action was declared intolerable by the English government which in 1774 decided to close the port of Boston. The colonists responded with a boycott of English products, and organized the meeting of the Continental Congress which brought together for the first time the representatives of the English colonies in America.

During the years before the Civil War (1861-1865), the abolitionist movement had its roots in Boston, thanks to the likes of William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips and Lydia Maria Child, so thanks to them an organization was created in Massachusetts that helped slaves escape from the south to Canada. Support for the Union cause had virtually no opponents among the citizens of Massachusetts. Approximately 145,000 men were needed in the Union army and navy. The Massachusetts industry supplied the Union with many kinds of materials, which also included the construction of warships.

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The remarkable industrial activity of the nineteenth century attracted to the cities to work in its industries, many immigrants from rural areas, (farmers and ranchers not able to compete with the products of the west that arrive by rail), and from Europe. The concentration of workers in industry and the tightening of working conditions during the early years of the twentieth century marked the birth of the trade union movement in Massachusetts, which culminated in the strikes of textile workers in 1912. The textile and footwear industry, one of the bases of the economy up to that time, was affected by the effects of the crisis after the First World War, especially for the inability to compete with southern industries. After a few years of crisis, the Second World War managed to revitalize the local economy.

Starting from 1950, alongside traditional industries, (many of which have had to diversify and reconvert in recent decades), Massachusetts has distinguished itself above all for its high-tech companies, in the fields of electronics, information technology, civil and military engineering.. Much of this is due to the quality of its research centers, the prestige of its universities and the high percentage of highly qualified population.

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