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Boston Tea Party

In 1620, a ship called the Mayflower sailed from England. It carried about 100 people who wanted to settle in Virginia, a colony in the New World. The ship went off course and reached a rocky shore far north of Virginia. The settlers, who were later called Pilgrims, decided to stay. They founded Massachusetts.

Massachusetts was named after a group of Native Americans. The Massachuset people lived around Massachusetts Bay when the Pilgrims first arrived.

Massachusetts is one of the New England states. It has a population of about 6.4 million people. Boston is the state’s capital and largest city. Many important events that led to the American Revolution (1775-1783) took place in Boston. Massachusetts was the second of the 13 British colonies that eventually became the United States.

Facts About Massachusetts






6,430,000 people

Rank among states in population


Major cities

Boston, Worcester, Springfield


10,560 square miles
27,300 square kilometers

Rank among states in area



February 6, 1788, the 6th state

State nickname

The Bay State

Name for residents


State bird

Black-Capped Chickadee

State flower


State tree

American Elm




The Boston area is home to about 5.8 million people. The city sits on Boston Harbor, an inlet of Massachusetts Bay at the mouth of the Charles River.

Boston is an old city. Its downtown park, called Boston Common, is the oldest public park in the United States. Its subway system was the first in the United States. It opened in 1897.

The city is an important center for the arts. Among its great institutions are the Museum of Fine Arts and the Boston Museum of Science. The Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops are two of the world’s most famous symphonies.

Across the Charles River from Boston is Harvard University. It was founded in 1636. It’s the oldest university in the United States, and one of the best-known schools in the world.


Massachusetts is called the Bay State. That’s because Massachusetts Bay dominates the state’s coast. Eastern Massachusetts has an irregular, rocky shore. Cape Cod reaches way out into the ocean like an arm flexing its muscles!

Cape Cod is a popular vacation spot. It has fine beaches and shops. Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard—small, sandy islands off the coast—are also popular places for vacations.

The interior of Massachusetts is dotted with small lakes and ponds. Central and western Massachusetts are hilly or mountainous. The Appalachian Mountains run through the western part of the state.


Massachusetts is famous for sports. The Boston Marathon, founded in 1897, is the oldest yearly marathon in the world. Every year in April thousands of runners start in Hopkinton and race 26.2 miles (42.2 kilometers) to downtown Boston!

In 1891, James Naismith invented basketball in Springfield, Massachusetts. Today, Springfield is home to the Basketball Hall of Fame. Boston is home to the Celtics, one of professional basketball’s most famous teams.

Massachusetts is also home to football’s New England Patriots and hockey’s Boston Bruins. Boston’s Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox, is the oldest ballpark in major league baseball.


Thanksgiving originated in Massachusetts. Another native group, the Wampanoag, helped the Pilgrims survive their first difficult year in the new colony. The Wampanoag taught them how to grow corn and catch fish. In 1621, the Pilgrims and Native Americans shared a meal to give thanks for the first harvest in the New World. That was the first Thanksgiving feast.


The American Revolution might not have happened without Massachusetts. The Boston Massacre in 1770 was an early spark to the Revolution. British troops shot and killed several citizens who were protesting the troops’ presence in the city. Boston was also the site of the famous Boston Tea Party in 1773. That’s when colonists protested a British tax on tea by throwing tea from a ship into Boston Harbor.

The war of independence started in Massachusetts on April 19, 1775. The war began with the “shot heard ‘round the world” at Lexington, and the Battle of Concord the same day. The famous Battle of Bunker Hill took place two months later just north of downtown Boston.

In Boston today, you can follow the Freedom Trail. It connects 16 historic sites important to the Revolution. A red path along the streets and sidewalks marks the Freedom Trail.

 Source: Microsoft ® Encarta