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What Should I Know about Massachusetts?

Mary Elizabeth
Updated May 23, 2024
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Massachusetts is one of the fifty states that make up the United States of America and one of the six New England states in the northeast section of the country, along with Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. It is bordered to the west by New York, to the north by Vermont and New Hampshire, to the south by Connecticut and Rhode Island, and to the southeast and east by the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Maine. Boston is the capital and largest city. Other important cities in Massachusetts are Worcester, Springfield, Lowell, and Cambridge.

Massachusetts is the 45th of the 50 states by size with an area of 7,840.02 square miles (20,305.56 sq km), but ranks 13th in population with 6,349,097 in the 2000 census. It is fourth among states in population density. The correct name for a resident of Massachusetts is a Massachusettsan.

The state’s earliest inhabitants were, first, Paleo-Indians, followed by Native Americans of the Algonquian language group. These included the Massachusett community, from which the state takes its name. It is said to mean “at or about the Great Hill,” referring to the Great Blue Hill region where they dwelt.

The Plymouth colony was established by the Pilgrims in what is now Massachusetts in 1621, with the government organized by the famous “Mayflower Compact.” The created ties to the local Wampanoag community, and celebrated the first Thanksgiving with them. More colonies were set up, including the Massachusetts Bay Colony. A strict colonial policy by England brought about defiance, resulting in the Boston Massacre on 5 March 1770, and resulted in acts such as the including the famous Boston Tea Party of 16 December 1773. On 19 April 1775, Paul Revere made his famous ride to warn the colonists, and the battles of Lexington and Concord began, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War.

Massachusetts joined the Union on 6 February 1788, the sixth of the original thirteen states to do so. Elements of its history are recalled in some of its state emblems. For example, the state seal features a Native American from the Algonquin nation, holding a bow and arrow in a gesture indicating peaceful intentions, surmounted by a golden right arm holding a broadsword and with the motto, Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem, which means, “By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty.” The state flower is, aptly, the Mayflower. And the state is one of the few to have a “state historical rock” — Plymouth Rock.

Other state emblems of Massachusetts feature items currently associate with the state:

  • State dog: Boston Terrier
  • State doughnut: Boston Crème
  • State Beverage: Cranberry Juice
  • State Muffin: Corn Muffin
  • State Bean: Navy Bean — chosen because of its features role in Boston Baked Beans
  • State Dessert: Boston Crème Pie
  • State Cookie: Chocolate Chip Cookie — the Toll House Restaurant cookie, developed in Whitman, Massachusetts in 1930.
  • Although Massachusetts is one of the oldest states in the country, it has developed a reputation in the past several decades as one of the more progressive states in the union. Massachusetts was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage and generally has a progressive stance on civil rights. For example, getting an emotional support animal letter Massachusetts will recognize is relatively simple. In Massachusetts, individuals with mental disabilities trying to legitimize an emotional support animal need only meet with a mental health care professional and receive a certified confirmation letter.

WiseTour is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary Elizabeth
By Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to writing articles on art, literature, and music for WiseTour, Mary works as a teacher, composer, and author who has written books, study guides, and teaching materials. Mary has also created music composition content for Sibelius Software. She earned her B.A. from University of Chicago's writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont.
Discussion Comments
By Drentel — On Mar 06, 2014

What you should know about Massachusetts is that the residents of the state are big sports fans and many of them are zealots in their support of local teams such as the Boston Celtics basketball team, Boston Red Sox baseball team, New England Patriots football team and Boston Bruins hockey team.

By Sporkasia — On Mar 05, 2014

No conversation about the state of Massachusetts would be complete without mentioning Cape Cod. If you look at a Massachusetts map the cape will be the body of land jutting out from the state and into the Atlantic Ocean. This portion of land is sometimes called the arm of Massachusetts because of its resemblance to a human arm.

The villages of Cape Cod put you mind of European towns. With so much water around, the cape is a major tourist attraction, particularly during the warm months. Because this area is so popular, you should be prepared for a large volume of traffic and slow moving during the summer, but if you can get pass the congestion then you are sure to have a memorable experience.

By Animandel — On Mar 05, 2014

My family and I have visited the Pilgrim settlement in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Much of the colony has not changed. The buildings look as they did in the 1600's, or so we were told; and they do look like pictures I have seen in History books.

The state is filled with interesting historical sites. We contacted one of the agencies that promotes Massachusetts tourism and received information on more places than we will ever have a chance to visit.

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the...
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