The History of Colonial Massachusetts
The area was first explored by John Cabot in 1498. Bartholomew Gosnold (1572 - 1607) then explored the coast in 1602 shortly followed by Samuel de Champlain (1567-1635) in 1604. In 1620 the Mayflower ship transported 102 English Puritans and Separatists led by the Pilgrim Fathers, from a site near the Mayflower Steps in Plymouth, England, to Plymouth, Massachusetts. The Pilgrims establish their own government, the basis of which was the Mayflower Compact, which was drafted on their journey to the New World. In 1620 John Mason and Sir Ferdinando Gorges received land in northern New England which became the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In the spring of 1630, John Winthrop led a fleet of 11 vessels and 700 passengers to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Glorious Revolution of Great Britain sparks revolt in the colonies and Boston militiamen seize Governor-in-Chief Andros and put him in jail. The year of 1691 sees hysteria spread through Colonial Massachusetts over witchcraft accusations in Salem Village, Massachusetts and the infamous Salem Witch Trials. The Sons of Liberty was an an organization (a secret society) formed by American Patriots in Boston who opposed British measures against the colonists, and agitated for resistance. Merchants in Boston and New York boycott British goods until the Townshend Acts are repealed. In 1770 the incident referred to as the Boston Massacre occurred in which British soldiers, who were quartered in Boston, fired into a rioting mob killing five American civilians. The famous patriot Samuel Adams organized the first Committee of Correspondence at Boston, Massachusetts. Patriots in Massachusetts dressed as Mohawk Indians protested against the British Tea Act in the incident which became known as the Boston Tea Party. In 1775 the first shots are fired in the Revolutionary War at Concord, Massachusetts.
Picture of John Winthrop
Native American Indians and Conflicts in Colonial Massachusetts
The Native American Indians of Massachusetts included the Mohican, Nauset, Wampanoag, Pocomtuc, Pequot, Nauset, Nipmuc and the Massachuset. The settlers in Colonial Massachusetts were involved in the following conflicts:
- The Pequot War of 1637
- King Philip's War (1675 - 1677 ) named after Metacomet of the Wampanoag tribe. During King Philip's War, up to one third of America's white population was wiped out
- The French Indian War (1756 - 1763)
- The American Revolutionary War (1775 - 1783). The United States of America is created and Colonial Massachusetts becomes a state
Religion in Colonial Massachusetts
The Puritans dominated New England and Colonial Massachusetts. Although many left Europe in order to obtain religious freedom they did not tolerate any other form of religion. The Puritans were a Reform movement in the Anglican church that aimed at purifying the church of corruption. Puritans were classed as dissenters. the religion of the Puritans was strict and austere. They enforced a strict moral code and were strongly opposed to sensual pleasures and were strong advocates of propriety, modesty and and decorum. The Congregational Church eventually grew out of the Puritan Church and was formally established Colonial Massachusetts.
Government in Colonial Massachusetts
On 23 April, 1662 John Winthrop Jr. obtained a charter for Massachusetts from King Charles II of England. Colonial Massachusetts became a Charter Colony which was largely self-governed. The Fundamental Orders of Massachusetts were adopted by free men of Hartford, Wethersfield and Windsor. The charter established the rules of government, but allowed the Massachusetts colonists a great amount of freedom within those rules. John Haynes was elected as the first Governor. The organization of Government in Colonial Massachusetts was structured as follows:
- The Governor of Colonial Massachusetts held the executive power in the colony representing the Crown (England)
- The Governorís Council of Colonial Massachusetts was composed of influential and powerful men who advised and supported the Governor and had judicial and administrative powers
- An Assembly was elected by and represented, the citizens of the towns and counties of Colonial Massachusetts
- Town Meetings
The Union of New Haven and Massachusetts Colonies was completed in 1665.
Natural Materials and Raw Resources in Colonial Massachusetts
The Natural materials and raw resources available to the colonists in Colonial Massachusetts were fish, whales and timber from the dense forests. Farming was difficult for crops like wheat because of the poor soil but corn, pumpkins, rye, squash and beans were raised. The sawmills, shipyards, tanneries and warehouses played a prominent role in Colonial Massachusetts.
Life in Colonial Massachusetts - Economy, Trade, Industries and Jobs
The way of life in Colonial Massachusetts was determined by religion, wealth, status and how colonists could make a living. The majority of the workforce in Colonial Massachusetts consisted of manual workers, servants, apprentices, sailors, hired hands and semi-skilled tradesmen. These were colonists of the lower class could not vote nor hold public office. few owned property and most were illiterate. The lower classes were bolstered by Indentured Servants and some slaves. The Middle class citizens of Colonial Massachusetts could vote but few held public office. They ran stores or small businesses, were skilled tradesmen or belonged to professions. The Upper class consisted of wealthy and well educated minor aristocrats who could vote and held high public office. The way of life focussed on town life. The names of the major towns in Colonial Massachusetts were Boston, Quincy, Plymouth, Salem, Lexington and Concord. Colonial Massachusetts became a hotbed for Patriots and the founding of the Sons and Daughters of Liberty organizations leading to the pre-revolutionary events such as the Boston Tea Party. The most famous patriots of Colonial Massachusetts were Paul Revere, Samuel Adams and John Adams. The first shots fired in the Revolutionary War were at the Battle of Concord. The economy of Colonial Massachusetts was based on manufacture and industries such as ship building and the manufacture and export of rum. In towns along the coast, the colonists made their living fishing, whaling, shipbuilding and shipping. The economy of other parts of Colonial Massachusetts was based on timber products, the fur trade, maple syrup, copper, livestock products, horses, rum, whiskey and beer.
Facts about the Massachusetts Colony
The Dartmouth, Beaver and Eleanor ships involved in the Boston Tea Party
|Picture of Samuel Adams|