Massachusetts – Encyclopedia of U.S. History

Massachusetts was admitted into the Union on February 6, 1788, as the
sixth state. It is located in the northeastern United States and is bordered
by Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire,
and the Atlantic Ocean. It ranks forty-fifth in size among the fifty states.
Permanent English settlement of Massachusetts began in 1620, but
five main Algonquian tribes lived there before then: the Nauset,
Wampanoag, Nipmuc, Massachusetts, and Pocumtuc. When the first
group of Puritans left England in the Mayflower, they were actually
headed to Virginia. A storm blew them off course, and they landed on
Cape Cod before settling the village they called Plymouth. Ten years
later, a larger band of Puritans settled the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
From 1630 to 1640, approximately twenty thousand English (primarily
Puritans) settled in Massachusetts. Farming became the cornerstone of their economy.
Massachusetts emerged from the American Civil War (1861–65) as
an industrial state, and its population grew quickly. The second half of
the twentieth century saw the development of high-tech manufacturing
in the suburbs of Boston, the capital city. White-collar employment and
middle-class suburbs thrived. By the 1970s and early 1980s, developments in information technology and increased defense spending created
a high-tech boom centering on new manufacturing firms just outside
Massachusetts in the twenty-first century is home to more than 6.4
million residents, primarily whites (83.4 percent). Boston’s population,
however, was 25 percent African American in 2006. A relatively wealthy
state, Massachusetts had the thirteenth-highest gross state product in
2005. At a time when the three-year average median household income
was $44,473 nationally, it was $52,354 in Massachusetts.
Since 1928, Massachusetts has been a Democratic state. In 1960, its
popular U.S. senator, John F. Kennedy (1917–1963; served 1961–63),
became the first Roman Catholic president in U.S. history.
The economy of Massachusetts focuses on manufacturing. The state
is a leader in the production of computers, optical equipment, and
industrial machinery. The site of some of the earliest unionization
efforts, Massachusetts remains the headquarters for several labor unions.
For centuries, education has been important to Massachusetts,
which is home to several of the nation’s most highly regarded schools,
including Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
(MIT), Tufts University, and Amherst College.