One of the United States, so called from a tribe of Indians, formerly at Barnstable, or from Moswetuset, the aboriginal name of Blue Hill, a few miles south of Boston. It lies between 41°23' and 42°52' north latitude, and 69°50' and 73°30' west longitude from Greenwich; and is bounded north by Vermont and New Hampshire; east by the Atlantic; south by Rhode Island and Connecticut; and west by New York. Its Superficial area is 7,500 square miles.
Physical Aspects-- The surface of this state is greatly diversified, and the soil may be divided into three distinct zones -- mountainous in the western, hilly in the central and northern, and level in the southeastern sections. Salt marshes are numerous on most of the maritime border. The soil is exceedingly varied. In the southeastern part it is mostly light and sandy; interspersed, however, with numerous spots that are fertile. In the middle and northern sections, particularly toward the seaboard, it is of much better quality, but distinguished more for its superior cultivation, than its natural fertility. The more western parts, especially in the valley of the Connecticut river, have generally a strong, rich soil, excellent for grazing, and suited to most of the purposes of farming.
Mountains-- The Green mountain range passes through the western part of the state, from north to south. The principal chain takes the name of Hoosac mountains, the highest summits of which are the Saddle and Taghkanic. The other elevations, noted for their size and height are Wachusett, Mount Tom, Mount Holvoke, Mount Toby, Blue and Pow Wow hills.
Rivers and Bays-- The principal rivers are the Connecticut, Merrimack, Concord, Nashua, Pow Wow, Ipswich, North, Saugus, Charles, Mystic, Neponset, Taunton, Chickapee, Deerfield, Westfield, French, Miller's and the Housatonic. Massachusetts bay lies on the easterly side of the state, between Capes Cod and Ann. Numerous other bays indent the coast, the principal of which are, Buzzard's, Barnstable, Plymouth and Cape Cod.
Islands-- The most noted of these are, Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, the Elizabeth islands (16 in numbers), Plum island and those in Massachusetts bay.
Climate-- The climate is generally favorable to health, though persons with feeble lungs, living near the seaboard, are liable to suffer from the ocean winds. The air from the interior is generally dry, serene, and salubrious. The summers are pleasant, but subject to excessive heat often followed by a depression of temperature , of 50° in a few hours. The winters are generally rigorous, the thermometer often standing below zero.
Productive Resources-- The principal products are horses, mules, neat cattle, sheep, swine, poultry, eggs, butter, cheese, silk, wool, hay, fish, spermaceti, whale and other fish oil, wheat, rye, barley, oats, buckwheat, potatoes, orchard and garden fruits, and Indian corn. Among the fossil resources are marble, granite, freestone, slate, flagstone and various kinds of ochre and clay. This state abounds in mines of iron ores, and has also some coal.
Manufactures-- Massachusetts is distinguished as a manufacturing state. Water power for the supply of machinery is abundant in nearly every section of the state. There are five or six hundred cotton and woolen factories. Calico printing and carpet weaving are also largely carried on. Boots and shoes, leather, wrought and cast iron, straw hats, cabinet work, paper and oil are extensively manufactured. Fire arms are also manufactured at the national armory at Springfield.
Railroads and Canals-- Massachusetts has a greater number of railroads, in proportion to its area, then any other state in the Union. There are, within the limits of the state, about 40 different roads, exclusive of their various branches, with a total length of over 1200 miles, and built at an aggregate cost of rising $50,000,000. Their principal centres are Boston, Worchester, Springfield, Lowell and Fitchburgh. The principal canals of Massachusetts, are the Middlesex 27 miles long, connecting the Merrimack river at Lowell with Boston Harbor; the Blackstone 45 miles long, from Worchester to Providence; and the Hampshire and Hampden 22 miles long, from the Farmington canal (now disused), on the Connecticut line to Northampton.
Commerce-- The commerce of Massachusetts centers chiefly at Boston, and is inferior only to that of two other states (New York and Louisiana) in the Union. Its exports and imports in 1850 were over 40 million dollars. Amounts of shipping owned within the state, 685,442 tons.
Education-- The university of Cambridge is the oldest and best endowed school in the United States; attached to it are schools of law, medicine, divinity and science. William's college at Williamstown and Amherst college are also flourishing institutions. At Andover, Newton and Worcester, theological seminaries are established. Academies and common schools exist throughout the state.
Government-- The executive power is vested in a governor, Lt governor and council; and the legislative power, in a senate of 40 members, and a house of representatives; all elected annually by the people on the second Monday in November, excepting the council, which is chosen by the legislature. The judiciary is vested in a supreme court, court of common pleas and such other courts as the legislature may establish. The judges are appointed by the governor, and hold their offices during good behavior. The right of suffrage is enjoyed by every male citizen, 21 years of age (excepting paupers and persons under guardianship), who has resided in the state one year, and in the election district six months, and shall have paid a state or county tax (or been exempted there from) two years next preceding any election.
Population-- In 1790 was 378,717; in 1800 was 423,245; in 1810 was 472,040; in 1820 was 523,287; in 1830 was 610,408; in 1840 was 737,699 and in 1850 was 994,499. Number of slaves in 1778 was 18,000. Slavery was abolished in 1781.
History-- The coasts of Massachusetts after Cabot and Cartier's voyages, were annually visited for trade with the natives, and for fishing, yet little was known of the interior, until Captain Smith, the hero of Virginia, explored its shores from the Penobscot to Cape Cod, and penetrated its interminable forests. It was Smith who gave that whole country the name of New England. That region was not permanently settled until 1620, when a party of 101 Independents, who had fled from England to Holland, in 1608, in consequence of persecutions, obtained a grant of land from the Virginia Company, intending to settle within their jurisdiction. But through accident or treachery, they reached the coast within the jurisdiction of the Plymouth Company* (see below), from whom they subsequently obtained a patent. The great moral spectacle which this little company of emigrants presented, can not be passed unnoticed. Deprived of the privilege of worshipping God according to the dictates of their own consciences and judgments, they left England, with their pastor, John Robinson, and became voluntary exiles in Holland. They cherished the sentiment, however, "England with all they faults, I love thee still," and they felt a yearning to live where they might retain their language and laws in their purity and strength. They therefore turned their thoughts toward the wilds of America, where no restraining power should interfere with their religious privileges; and obtaining a grant from London or Virginia Company, they left Delft Haven, in Holland, 01 Aug 1620, in the Speedwell. They were joined at Southampton, England, by the May Flower bearing a number of business men of London, who had formed a partnership with those from Holland. The Speedwell, however, proved unseaworthy, and the whole company, numbering in men, women and children, as before remarked, 101 souls, sailed from Plymouth in the May Flower on the 16 Sep. They reached the American coast, and descried the bleak hills of Cape Cod, on the 19 Nov. For a month they laid anchor, and in the meanwhile, they entered into a solemn political compact, and chose John Carver their governor for the first year. Exploring parties were sent ashore to find a good place for settlement; and on the 21 Dec the harbor of Plymouth was sounded, and found for for shipping, and the shore well watered and wooded, and there they landed, and commenced a settlement. They named the place New Plymouth, and soon afterward obtained a charter.
In 1628, the Plymouth council granted to a number of nonconformists, of Devonshire, the territory of New England, lying between the Merrimack and Charles rivers, and three miles beyond, and extending to the South sea. A company of planters, with their families, were sent out, and founded the town of Salem. In 1629, the patentees obtained a charter from Charles I, confirming the grant of the council, and incorporating then under the name of the Governor and Company of Massachusetts Bay. Subsequently to this period, other grants and accessions were made, and the colony of Massachusetts extended its jurisdiction over the present state of Rhode Island, a part of Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine and Acadia. In 1641, the settlements of New Hampshire were incorporated with Massachusetts. In 1643, the four colonies, Massachusetts, Plymouth, Connecticut and New Haven, entered into articles of confederation, under the title of the "United Colonies of New England." In 1652, Maine placed itself under the protection of Massachusetts, called the county of "Yorkshire," and remained a part of her territory, with some modifications, until it became a sovereign state. In 1686, the charter government of Massachusetts Bay was taken from her, and a president placed over the dominion from Narraganset bya to Nova Scotia. The same year, Sir Edmund Andros arrived at Boston, with a commission as royal governor of all New England. Plymouth, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhoda Island, immediately submitted to his jurisdiction. A few months after, Connecticut was added, and in 1688, his power was further extended over New Jersey and New York. In 1689, Plymouth was united to Massachusetts by royal order, and its old charter confirmed. In 1691, Plymouth, Massachusetts, Maine and Acadia, were formed into one royal colony, under the name of "Massachusetts." In 1699, New Hampshire and Massachusetts were placed under the jurisdiction of New York, but were again reunited in 1702, and thus continued until 1741, when a final separation took place. Inconformity to the original grant of the Plymouth Company, Massachusetts claimed an indefinite extent of country westward, which was adjusted with New York, by ceding all her territory west of a line, running north and south, one mile east of Geneva, and was known as the "Genesee Country." In 1776, on the declaration of independence, Massachusetts formed a state constitution, which went into operation in 1780, and with the exception of the amendment in 1820, is the same as the one of the present day. In 1778, it ratified the constitution of the United States. The motto of the seal is Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem -- "By his sword he seeks the calm repose of liberty."
**In 1606, James the First of England, claiming all the territory lying between the latitude of Cape Fear on the south, and of Halifax on the north, divided it into two nearly equal districts. One, extending from the 41st to the 45th degree, he called North Virginia; the other, extending from the 34th to the 38the degree, he called South Virginia. On the 20 Apr 1606, he issued a charter to a "company of knights, gentlemen and merchants," of the west of England, called the Plymouth Company, granting to them the right of settlement of the territory of North Virginia. At the same time a similar charter was granted to like persons residing in London, and called the London Company for the settlement of South Virginia. It was stipulated that neither should form a settlement within a hundred miles of the other.