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The Massachusetts Portal

Massachusetts /ˌmæsəˈsɪts/ (About this sound listen), officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is the 7th smallest, but the 14th most populous and the 3rd most densely populated of the 50 United States, and has the United States' sixth highest GDP per capita.

Massachusetts has played a significant historical, cultural, and commercial role in American history. Plymouth was the site of the colony founded in 1620 by the Pilgrims. Harvard University, founded in 1636, is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Protestant First Great Awakening originated from the pulpit of Northampton, Massachusetts preacher Jonathan Edwards. In the late 18th century, Boston became known as the "Cradle of Liberty" for the agitation there that led to the American Revolution. In 1786, a populist revolt led directly to the Constitutional Convention. Before the American Civil War, Massachusetts was a center for the temperance, transcendentalist, and abolitionist movements. In the late 19th century, basketball and volleyball were invented in Springfield and Holyoke, respectively. In 2004, Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legally recognize same-sex marriage.

Originally dependent on fishing, agriculture, and trade, Massachusetts was transformed into a manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution. During the 20th century, Massachusetts' economy shifted from manufacturing to services. In the 21st century, Massachusetts is a leader in higher education, health care technology, high technology, and financial services.

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19th century depiction of the Battle of Lexington
The Battles of Lexington and Concord were the first military engagements of the American Revolutionary War. They were fought on April 19, 1775, in Middlesex County, Province of Massachusetts Bay, within the towns of Lexington, Concord, Lincoln, Menotomy (present-day Arlington), and Cambridge, near Boston. The battles marked the outbreak of open armed conflict between the Kingdom of Great Britain and its thirteen colonies in the mainland of British North America.

About 700 British Army regulars, under Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith, were given secret orders to capture and destroy military supplies that were reportedly stored by the Massachusetts militia at Concord. Through effective intelligence gathering, Patriot colonials had received word weeks before the expedition that their supplies might be at risk and had moved most of them to other locations. They also received details about British plans on the night before the battle and were able to rapidly notify the area militias of the enemy movement.

The first shots were fired just as the sun was rising at Lexington. The militia were outnumbered and fell back, and the regulars proceeded on to Concord, where they searched for the supplies. At the North Bridge in Concord, approximately 500 militiamen fought and defeated three companies of the King's troops. The outnumbered regulars fell back from the minutemen after a pitched battle in open territory. More militiamen arrived soon thereafter and inflicted heavy damage on the regulars as they marched back towards Boston. Upon returning to Lexington, Smith's expedition was rescued by reinforcements under Brigadier General Hugh Percy. The combined force, now of about 1,700 men, marched back to Boston under heavy fire in a tactical withdrawal and eventually reached the safety of Charlestown. The accumulated militias blockaded the narrow land accesses to Charlestown and Boston, starting the Siege of Boston.

Selected biography

Portrait of Samuel Adams by John Singleton Copley
Samuel Adams was a Massachusetts statesman, politician, writer, and political philosopher, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Adams was instrumental in garnering the support of the colonies in rebellion against Great Britain, ultimately resulting in the American Revolution. He was also one of the key architects of the principles of American republicanism that shaped American political culture. Adams organized protests against the British, including the Boston Tea Party in 1773, and participated in the Continental Congress. He also advocated for the adoption of the Declaration of Independence at the Second Continental Congress. Following the American Revolution, Adams helped draft the Articles of Confederation. After the war ended, he ran for the House of Representatives in the 1st United States Congressional election, but was unsuccessful in his bid. He was elected Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts in 1789 and after John Hancock's death in 1793, Adams served as the acting governor, until he was elected governor in January of the following year. He served in that position until June 1797 when he decided to retire from politics.

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Hingham Bay in April 2010
Hingham Bay is the easternmost of the three small bays of outer Boston Harbor, part of Massachusetts Bay and forming the western shoreline of the town of Hull and the northern shoreline of Hingham, in the state of Massachusetts. The bay is home to several of the Boston Harbor Islands.

Military posts were established on Peddocks Island and Fort Revere at the strategically important Hull Gut entrance to Hingham Bay beginning in the American Revolution. Ships and submarines were produced at Fore River Shipyard located on Weymouth Fore River near where the river enters Hingham Bay beginning in the early 20th century. During World War II, hundreds of ships produced for the United States Navy at Fore River Shipyard and the associated Bethlehem-Hingham Shipyard in Hingham first entered the Atlantic at Hingham Bay. Following the war, the list of possible locations for United Nations Headquarters included the unused land at World's End on Hingham Bay. The land was also later considered as a location for a nuclear power plant that was eventually built in Plymouth.

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State facts

Location of Massachusetts in the United States
Location of Massachusetts in the United States
Atlas showing the location of the major urban areas and roads in Massachusetts
Atlas of Massachusetts with Greater Boston highlighted

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Wellesley College's Tower Court building

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State symbols

Colors Blue, Green, and Cranberry
Motto Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem
Song All Hail to Massachusetts
Bird Black-capped Chickadee
Tree American Elm
Flower Mayflower
Bug Ladybug
Mineral Babingtonite
Fish Cod
Beverage Cranberry Juice
Fossil Dinosaur Tracks
Soil Paxton Soil

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