Discovering Massachusetts: 400 Years of American History

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Massachusetts: ‘The Old Colony State’

Massachusetts is best known for the city of Boston, which has played a crucial role in American history. But there’s much more to the state of Massachusetts than its famous capital and largest city.

The area that comprises the state today was home to North America’s first European settlers. In 1620, English ‘Pilgrims’ founded the Plymouth colony, the second colony to be set up in what would later come to be known as ‘New England’.

Affectionately referred to as ‘the ‘Old Colony State’, Massachusetts is internationally recognized today as a center of finance, engineering and biotechnology.

Birthplace of Revolution

The state derives its name from the Massachusett people, a native tribe that lived in the territory prior to the arrival of the colonists. Other tribes indigenous to the area include the Narragansett, Mohican and Wampanoag peoples.

Massachusetts played a central role in the American Revolution, which ultimately led to the new country’s independence from Britain. The war’s first military engagements, the battles of Lexington and Concord (1775), both took place in Massachusetts.

Modern Massachusetts

Today, the state draws visitors from all over the US and beyond. While most tourists tend to focus on Boston (along with its sister-city, Cambridge), Massachusetts is home to a number of other must-see attractions.

These include picturesque Cape Cod, a peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean; Martha’s Vineyard, a summer getaway for the rich and famous; and the city of Salem, which was made famous (or infamous) by the witch trials of 1692.