), officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
is the most populous state
in the New England
region of the United States
. It borders on the Atlantic Ocean
and Gulf of Maine
to the east, Connecticut
to the southwest and Rhode Island
to the southeast, New Hampshire
to the northeast, Vermont
to the northwest, and New York
to the west. The capital of Massachusetts is Boston
, which is also the most populous city in New England. It is home to the Greater Boston
metropolitan area, a region influential upon American history
, and industry
Originally dependent on agriculture
Massachusetts was transformed into a manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution
During the 20th century, Massachusetts's economy shifted from manufacturing to services
Modern Massachusetts is a global leader in biotechnology
, higher education
, and maritime trade
Massachusetts was a site of early English colonization: the Plymouth Colony
was founded in 1620 by the Pilgrims
of the Mayflower
, and in 1630 the Massachusetts Bay Colony
, taking its name from the indigenous Massachusett
, established settlements in Boston and Salem. In 1692, the town of Salem
and surrounding areas experienced one of America's most infamous cases of mass hysteria
, the Salem witch trials
In 1777, General Henry Knox
founded the Springfield Armory
, which, during the Industrial Revolution
, catalyzed numerous important technological advances, including interchangeable parts
In 1786, Shays' Rebellion
, a populist revolt led by disaffected American Revolutionary War
veterans, influenced the United States Constitutional Convention
In the 18th century, the Protestant First Great Awakening
, which swept Britain and the Thirteen Colonies
, originated from the pulpit of Northampton
preacher Jonathan Edwards
In the late 18th century, Boston became known as the "Cradle of Liberty"
for the agitation there that later led to the American Revolution
The entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts has played a powerful scientific, commercial, and cultural role in the history of the United States. Before the American Civil War
, Massachusetts was a center for the abolitionist
In the late 19th century, the sports of basketball
were invented in the western Massachusetts cities of Springfield
In 2004, Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legally recognize same-sex marriage
as a result of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
's decision in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health
Many prominent American political dynasties have hailed from the state, including the Adams
families. Harvard University
is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States
with the largest financial endowment
of any university,
and Harvard Law School
has educated a contemporaneous majority of Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States
. Kendall Square
has been called "the most innovative square mile on the planet", in reference to the high concentration of entrepreneurial start-ups
and quality of innovation
which have emerged in the vicinity of the square since 2010.
Both Harvard and MIT
, also in Cambridge, are perennially ranked as either the most or among the most highly regarded academic institutions
in the world.
Massachusetts residents have been described by the World Population Review as having the highest average IQ
of all U.S. states, exceeding 104,
and the state's public-school students place among the top tier in the world in academic performance.
The state has been ranked as one of the top states in the United States for citizens to live in, as well as one of the most expensive.
The Massachusetts Bay Colony
was named after the indigenous
population, the Massachusett
, whose name likely derived from a Wôpanâak
, segmented as mus(ây)
"big" + wach8
"mountain" + -s
"diminutive" + -ut
"locative" (the '8' in these words refers to the 'oo' sound according to the Wôpanâak orthographic chart).
It has been translated as "near the great hill",
"by the blue hills", "at the little big hill", or "at the range of hills", referring to the Blue Hills
, or in particular the Great Blue Hill
, which is located on the boundary of Milton
has been represented as Moswetuset
—from the name of the Moswetuset Hummock
(meaning "hill shaped like an arrowhead") in Quincy
, where Plymouth Colony
commander Myles Standish
(a hired English military officer) and Squanto
(a member of the now disappeared Patuxet band
of the Wampanoag peoples
) met Chief Chickatawbut
The official name of the state is the "Commonwealth
While the designation "Commonwealth" forms part of the state's official name, it has no practical implications.
Massachusetts has the same position and powers within the United States as other states. John Adams
in 1779 may have chosen the word for the second draft of what became the 1780 Massachusetts Constitution
because unlike the word "state", "commonwealth" at the time had the connotation of a republic
, in contrast to the monarchy
the former American colonies were fighting against. (The name "State of Massachusetts Bay" appeared in the first—rejected—draft.)
The Puritans, who believed the Church of England
needed to be purified and experienced harassment from English authority because of their beliefs,
came to Massachusetts intending to establish an ideal religious society.
Unlike the Plymouth colony, the bay colony was founded under a royal charter in 1629.
Both religious dissent and expansionism resulted in several new colonies being founded, shortly after Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay, elsewhere in New England. The Massachusetts Bay banished dissenters such as Anne Hutchinson
and Roger Williams
due to religious and political disagreements. In 1636, Williams founded the colony of Rhode Island
, and Hutchinson joined him there several years later. Religious intolerance continued. Among those who objected to this later in the century were the English Quaker preachers Alice and Thomas Curwen
, who were publicly flogged and imprisoned in Boston in 1676.
Currency was another issue in the colonies. In 1652 the Massachusetts legislature
authorized John Hull
to produce coinage (mintmaster
). "The Hull Mint produced several denominations of silver coinage, including the pine tree shilling
, for over 30 years until the political and economic situation made operating the mint no longer practical." Mostly political for Charles II of England
deemed the "Hull Mint" high treason in the United Kingdom
which had a punishment of Hanging, drawing and quartering
. "On April 6, 1681, Randolph petitioned the king, informing him the colony was still pressing their own coins which he saw as high treason and believed it was enough to void the charter. He asked that a writ of Quo warranto (a legal action requiring the defendant to show what authority they have for exercising some right, power, or franchise they claim to hold) be issued against Massachusetts for the violations."[better source needed]
The Revolutionary War
, 2nd President of the United States (1797–1801)
Bostonian John Adams
, known as the "Atlas of Independence",
was highly involved in both separation from Britain and the Constitution of Massachusetts
, which effectively (the Elizabeth Freeman
and Quock Walker
cases as interpreted by William Cushing
) made Massachusetts the first state to abolish slavery. David McCullough points out that an equally important feature was its placing for the first time the courts as a co-equal branch separate from the executive.
(The Constitution of Vermont
, adopted in 1777, represented the first partial ban on slavery. Vermont became a state in 1791 but did not fully ban slavery until 1858 with the Vermont Personal Liberty Law. The Pennsylvania Gradual Abolition Act of 1780
the first state to abolish slavery by statute.) Later, Adams was active in early American foreign affairs and succeeded Washington as the second United States President. His son John Quincy Adams
, also from Massachusetts,
would go on to become the sixth United States President.
In 1820, Maine
separated from Massachusetts and entered the Union as the 23rd state as a result of the ratification of the Missouri Compromise
During the 19th century, Massachusetts became a national leader in the American Industrial Revolution
, with factories around cities such as Lowell
producing textiles and shoes, and factories around Springfield producing tools, paper, and textiles.
The economy transformed from one based primarily on agriculture to an industrial one, initially making use of water-power and later the steam engine
to power factories. Canals and railroads were used for transporting raw materials and finished goods.
At first, the new industries drew labor from Yankees
on nearby subsistence farms, and later relied upon immigrant labor
from Europe and Canada.
Although significant opposition to abolitionism existed early on in Massachusetts, resulting in anti-abolitionist riots between 1835 and 1837,
opposition to slavery gradually increased throughout the next few decades.
Abolitionists John Brown
and Sojourner Truth
lived in Springfield and Northampton, respectively, while Frederick Douglass
lived in Boston and Susan B. Anthony
in Adams, Massachusetts. The works of such abolitionists contributed to Massachusetts's actions during the Civil War. Massachusetts was the first state to recruit, train, and arm a Black
regiment with White
officers, the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment
In 1852, Massachusetts became the first state to pass compulsory education
With the departure of several manufacturing companies, the area's industrial economy began to decline during the early 20th century. By the 1920s, competition from the South and Midwest, followed by the Great Depression
, led to the collapse of the three main industries in Massachusetts: textiles, shoemaking, and precision mechanics.
This decline would continue into the latter half of the century; between 1950 and 1979, the number of Massachusetts residents involved in textile manufacturing declined from 264,000 to 63,000.
The 1969 closure of the Springfield Armory
, in particular, spurred an exodus of high-paying jobs from Western Massachusetts, which suffered greatly as it de-industrialized during the last 40 years of the 20th century.
Massachusetts manufactured 3.4 percent of total United States military armaments produced during World War II
, ranking tenth among the 48 states.
In Eastern Massachusetts, following World War II, the economy was transformed from one based on heavy industry into a service-based economy.
Government contracts, private investment, and research facilities led to a new and improved industrial climate, with reduced unemployment and increased per capita income. Suburbanization flourished, and by the 1970s, the Route 128
corridor was dotted with high-technology
companies who recruited graduates of the area's many elite institutions of higher education.
In 1987, the state received federal funding for the Central Artery/Tunnel Project. Commonly known as "the Big Dig
", it was, at the time, the biggest federal highway project ever approved.
The project included making the Central Artery
a tunnel under downtown Boston, in addition to the re-routing of several other major highways.[failed verification]
Often controversial, with numerous claims of graft and mismanagement, and with its initial price tag of $2.5 billion increasing to a final tally of over $15 billion, the Big Dig nonetheless changed the face of Downtown Boston.
It connected areas that were once divided by elevated highway (much of the raised old Central Artery was replaced with the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway
), and improved traffic conditions along with several routes.
Notable 20th century politicians
John F. Kennedy
, Massachusetts native and 35th President of the United States (1961–1963)
The Kennedy family
was prominent in Massachusetts politics in the 20th century. Children of businessman and ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy Sr.
included John F. Kennedy
, who was a senator
and U.S. president
before his assassination
in 1963, and Ted Kennedy
, a senator
from 1962 until his death in 2009,
and Eunice Kennedy Shriver
, a co-founder of the Special Olympics
In 1966, Massachusetts became the first state to directly elect an African American to the U.S. senate with Edward Brooke
. George H. W. Bush
, 41st President of the United States
(1989–1993) was born in Milton
Other notable Bay State politicians on the national level included John W. McCormack
, Speaker of the House
in the 1960s, and Tip O'Neill
, whose service as Speaker of the House from 1977 to 1987 was the longest continuous tenure in United States history.
On May 17, 2004, Massachusetts became the first state in the U.S. to legalize same-sex marriage
after a Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling in November 2003 determined that the exclusion of same-sex couples from the right to a civil marriage was unconstitutional.
This decision was eventually superseded by the U.S. Supreme Court's affirmation of same-sex marriage in the United States
In 2004, Massachusetts senator John Kerry
who won the Democratic nomination for President of the United States narrowly lost to incumbent George W. Bush
. Eight years later, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney
(Republican nominee) lost to Barack Obama
in 2012. Another eight years later, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren
was a frontrunner in the Democratic primaries for the 2020 Presidential Election, but suspended her campaign and then endorsed presumptive nominee Joe Biden
Boston Marathon bombing
Many coastal areas in Massachusetts provide breeding areas for species such as the piping plover
The primary biome
of inland Massachusetts is temperate deciduous forest
Although much of Massachusetts had been cleared for agriculture, leaving only traces of old-growth forest
in isolated pockets, secondary growth has regenerated in many rural areas as farms have been abandoned.
Currently, forests cover around 62% of Massachusetts.
The areas most affected by human development include the Greater Boston area in the east and the Springfield metropolitan area in the west, although the latter includes agricultural areas throughout the Connecticut River Valley.
There are currently 219 endangered species
A number of species are doing well in the increasingly urbanized Massachusetts. Peregrine falcons
utilize office towers in larger cities as nesting areas,
and the population of coyotes
, whose diet may include garbage and roadkill, has been increasing in recent decades. White-tailed deer
, wild turkeys
, and eastern gray squirrels
are also found throughout Massachusetts. In more rural areas in the western part of Massachusetts, larger mammals such as moose
and black bears
have returned, largely due to reforestation following the regional decline in agriculture.
Freshwater fish species in Massachusetts include bass
, and trout
, while saltwater species such as Atlantic cod
, and American lobster
populate offshore waters.
Other marine species include Harbor seals
, the endangered North Atlantic right whales
, as well as humpback whales
, fin whales
, minke whales
, and Atlantic white-sided dolphins
The European corn borer, a significant agricultural pest, was first found in North America near Boston, Massachusetts in 1917.
Most of Massachusetts has a humid continental climate
, with cold winters and warm summers. Far southeast coastal areas are the broad transition zone to Humid Subtropical
climates. The warm to hot summers render the oceanic climate
rare in this transition, only applying to exposed coastal areas such as on the peninsula of Barnstable County
. The climate of Boston
is quite representative for the commonwealth, characterized by summer highs of around 81 °F (27 °C) and winter highs of 35 °F (2 °C), and is quite wet. Frosts are frequent all winter, even in coastal areas due to prevailing inland winds. Due to its location near the Atlantic
, Massachusetts is vulnerable to nor'easters
, hurricanes and tropical storms
Average daily maximum and minimum temperatures for selected cities in Massachusetts
Climate change in Massachusetts will affect both urban and rural environments, including forestry, fisheries, agriculture, and coastal development.
The Northeast is projected to warm faster than global average temperatures; by 2035, the Northeast is "projected to be more than 3.6°F (2°C) warmer on average than during the preindustrial era".
As of August 2016, the EPA reports that Massachusetts has warmed by over two degrees Fahrenheit, or 1.1 degrees Celsius.
This is almost twice as much as the average for the contiguous United States. Shifting temperatures also result in the shifting of rainfall patterns and the intensification of precipitation events. To that end, average precipitation in the Northeast United States has risen by ten percent from 1895 to 2011, and the number of heavy precipitation events has increased by seventy percent during that time.
These increased precipitation patterns are focused in the winter and spring. Increasing temperatures coupled with increasing precipitation will result in earlier snow melts and subsequent drier soil in the summer months.
The shifting climate in Massachusetts will result in a significant change to the built environment and ecosystems. In Boston
alone, costs of climate change-related storms will result in 5 to 100 billion dollars in damage.
These costs are attributed to expected coastal home damage, roadway destruction, and existing utility infrastructure exposure. Warmer temperatures will also disrupt the migration of birds and the blooming of flora. With these changes, deer populations are expected to increase, resulting in a decrease in underbrush which smaller fauna use as camouflage. Additionally, rising temperatures will increase the number of reported Lyme disease
cases in the state. Ticks
can transmit the disease once temperatures reach 45 degrees, so shorter winters will increase the window of transmission. These warmer temperatures will also increase the prevalence of mosquitos, a carrier of the West Nile virus
To combat this change, the state of Massachusetts’ Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs has outlined a path to decarbonization of the state's economy. On April 22, 2020, the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs of Massachusetts, Kathleen A. Theoharides, released a Determination of Statewide Emissions limits for 2050. In her letter, Theoharides stresses that as of 2020, the Commonwealth has experienced property damage attributable to climate change of more than $60 billion. To ensure that the Commonwealth experiences warming no more than 1.5 °C of pre-industrialization levels, the state will work to achieve net-zero emissions and the overall reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent by the year 2050.
The State of Massachusetts has developed a plethora of incentives to encourage the implementation of renewable energy
and efficient appliances and home facilities. Mass Save has been formed in conjunction with the State by Berkshire Gas, Blackstone Gas Company, Cape Light Compact, Eversource, Liberty Utilities, National Grid and Unitil to provide homeowners and renters with incentives to retrofit
their homes with efficient HVAC equipment and other household appliances. For example, up to a 100-dollar rebate can be obtained for upgrading to an ENERGY STAR
certified smart or programmable thermostat. Other appliances such as water heaters, air conditioners, washers and driers, and heat pumps are eligible for additional rebates.
The concept of Mass Save was created in 2008 by the passing of the Green Communities Act of 2008 during Deval Patrick
’s tenure as governor
. The main goal of the Green Communities Act was to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels
in the State and to encourage new, more efficient technologies. Among others, one result of this act was a requirement for Program Administrators of utilities to invest in saving energy, as opposed to purchasing and generating additional energy where economically feasible. In Massachusetts, eleven Program Administrators, including NSTAR, National Grid, Western Massachusetts Electric, Cape Light Compact, Until, and Berkshire Gas, jointly own the rights to this program, in conjunction with the MA Department of Energy Resources (DOER) and the Energy Efficiency Advisory Council (EEAC).
Mass Save also conducts no-cost in-home energy assessments so that homeowners, renters, and small business owners may educate themselves about energy efficiency-related home improvements and find opportunities to save money and energy. During the home assessment, Mass Save provides ENERGY STAR certified LED
light bulbs, power strips, low flow showerheads, faucet aerators
, and efficient thermostats
free of charge. Additionally, air leaks will be detected in the home or building and patched, and recommendations will be made to install additional insulation
to decrease the loss of heated or cooled air. Discounts of 75 percent or more are available on these insulation improvements. Due to COVID-19, Mass Save is currently conducting assessments remotely. Residents can schedule a remote assessment using the program's website or phone line.
The State Revenue Service provides incentives for the installation of solar panels
. In addition to the Federal Residential Renewable energy credit
, Massachusetts residents may be eligible for a tax credit of up to 15 percent of the project.
Once installed, arrays are eligible for net metering
Certain municipalities will offer up to $1.20 per watt, up to 50 percent of the system's cost on PV arrays 25 kW or less.
The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources also offers low-interest, fixed-rate financing with loan support for low-income residents. This program is currently set to terminate on December 31, 2020.
As a part of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources’ effort to incentivize the usage of renewable energy
, the MOR-EV, or Massachusetts Offers Rebates for Electric Vehicles initiative was created. With this incentive, residents may qualify for a State incentive of up to $2,500 dollars for the purchase or lease of an electric vehicle
, or $1,500 for the purchase or lease of a plug-in hybrid
This rebate is available in addition to the tax credits offered by the United States Department of Energy
for the purchase of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
For income-eligible residents, Mass Save has partnered with Massachusetts Community Action Program Agencies and Low-Income Energy Affordability Network (LEAN) to offer residents assistance with upgrades to their homes that will result in more efficient energy usage. Residents may qualify for a replacement of their heating system, insulation installation, appliances, and thermostats if they meet the income qualifications provided on Mass Save's website. For residents of 5+ family residential buildings, there are additional income-restricted benefits available through LEAN. If at least 50 percent of the residents of the building qualify as low income, energy efficiency improvements like those available through Mass Save are available. Residential structures operated by non-profit organizations, for profit operations, or housing authorities may take advantage of these programs.
In late 2020, the Baker Administration released a Decarbonization Roadmap that aims for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The plan calls for major investments in offshore wind
and solar energy and would require all new automobiles sold to be zero-emissions (electric or hydrogen powered) by 2035.
Massachusetts population density map. The centers of high-density settlement, from east to west, are Boston, Worcester, Springfield, and Pittsfield
Like the rest of the Northeastern United States
, the population of Massachusetts has continued to grow in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Massachusetts is the fastest-growing state in New England
and the 25th fastest-growing state in the United States.
Population growth was largely due to a relatively high quality of life and a large higher education system in the state.
By sex, 48.4% were male, and 51.6% were female in 2014. In terms of age, 79.2% were over 18 and 14.8% were over 65.
Race and ancestry
As of 2014, in terms of race and ethnicity, Massachusetts was 83.2% White (73.7% Non-Hispanic White
), 8.8% Black
or African American, 0.5% Native American
and Alaska Native
, 6.3% Asian American, <0.1% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 2.1% from some other race, and 3.1% from two or more races. Hispanics
and Latinos of any race made up 11.2% of the population.
The state's most populous ethnic group, non-Hispanic white, has declined from 95.4% in 1970 to 73.7% in 2014.
As of 2011, non-Hispanic whites were involved in 63.6% of all the births,
while 36.4% of the population of Massachusetts younger than age 1 was minorities (at least one parent who was not non-Hispanic white).
One major reason for this is that non-Hispanic whites in Massachusetts recorded a total fertility rate
of 1.36 in 2017, the second-lowest in the country after neighboring Rhode Island.
As late as 1795, the population of Massachusetts was nearly 95% of English ancestry.
During the early and mid-19th century, immigrant groups began arriving in Massachusetts in large numbers; first from Ireland in the 1840s;
today the Irish and part-Irish are the largest ancestry group in the state at nearly 25% of the total population. Others arrived later from Quebec as well as places in Europe such as Italy, Portugal, and Poland.
In the early 20th century, a number of[vague] African Americans migrated to Massachusetts
, although in somewhat fewer numbers than many other Northern states.
Later in the 20th century, immigration from Latin America increased considerably. More than 156,000 Chinese Americans
made their home in Massachusetts in 2014,
and Boston hosts a growing Chinatown
accommodating heavily traveled Chinese-owned bus lines
to and from Chinatown, Manhattan
in New York City
. Massachusetts also has large Dominican
, Puerto Rican
, Cape Verdean
populations. Boston's South End
and Jamaica Plain
are both gay villages
, as is nearby Provincetown, Massachusetts
on Cape Cod.
The largest ancestry group in Massachusetts are the Irish
(22.5% of the population), who live in significant numbers throughout the state but form more than 40% of the population along the South Shore in Norfolk and Plymouth counties (in both counties overall, Irish-Americans comprise more than 30% of the population). Italians
form the second-largest ethnic group in the state (13.5%), but form a plurality in some suburbs north of Boston and in a few towns in the Berkshires. English Americans
, the third-largest (11.4%) group, form a plurality in some western towns. French
and French Canadians
also form a significant part (10.7%),
with sizable populations in Bristol, Hampden, and Worcester Counties. Lowell
is home to the second-largest Cambodian
community of the nation.
Massachusetts is home to a small community of Greek Americans
as well, which according to the American Community Survey
there are 83,701 of them scattered along the state (1.2% of the total state population).
There are also several populations
of Native Americans
in Massachusetts. The Wampanoag
tribe maintains reservations at Aquinnah
on Martha's Vineyard and at Mashpee
on Cape Cod—with an ongoing native language revival project underway
since 1993, while the Nipmuc
maintain two state-recognized reservations in the central part of the state, including one at Grafton
Top 11 Non-English Languages Spoken in Massachusetts
As of 2010, 78.93% (4,823,127) of Massachusetts residents 5 and older spoke English at home as a first language
, while 7.50% (458,256) spoke Spanish, 2.97% (181,437) Portuguese
, 1.59% (96,690) Chinese (which includes Cantonese
), 1.11% (67,788) French, 0.89% (54,456) French Creole
, 0.72% (43,798) Italian, 0.62% (37,865) Russian, and Vietnamese
was spoken as a primary language by 0.58% (35,283) of the population over 5. In total, 21.07% (1,287,419) of Massachusetts's population 5 and older spoke a first language other than English.
Today, Christians make up 57% of the state's population, with Protestants
making up 21% of them. Roman Catholics
make up 34% and now predominate because of massive immigration from primarily Catholic countries and regions—chiefly Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Quebec, and Latin America. Both Protestant and Roman Catholic communities have been in decline since the late 20th century, due to the rise of irreligion
in New England
. It is the most irreligious region of the country, along with the Western United States
. A significant Jewish population immigrated to the Boston and Springfield areas between 1880 and 1920. Jews
currently make up 3% of the population. Mary Baker Eddy
made the Boston Mother Church
of Christian Science
serve as the world headquarters of this new religious movement
, Seventh-day Adventists
, and Mormons
may also be found. Kripalu Center
, the Shaolin Meditation Temple in Springfield, and the Insight Meditation Center in Barre
are examples of non-Abrahamic religious centers in Massachusetts. According to 2010 data from The Association of Religion Data Archives
, (ARDA) the largest single denominations are the Catholic Church
with 2,940,199 adherents; the United Church of Christ
with 86,639 adherents; and the Episcopal Church
with 81,999 adherents.
32% of the population identifies as having no religion.
Towns in Massachusetts by combined mean SAT of their public high school district for the 2015–2016 academic year
In 2018, Massachusetts's overall educational system was ranked the top among all fifty U.S. states by U.S. News & World Report
Massachusetts was the first state in North America to require municipalities to appoint a teacher or establish a grammar school with the passage of the Massachusetts Education Law
and 19th century reforms pushed by Horace Mann
laid much of the groundwork for contemporary universal public education
which was established in 1852.
Massachusetts is home to the oldest school in continuous existence in North America (The Roxbury Latin School
, founded in 1645), as well as the country's oldest public elementary school (The Mather School
, founded in 1639),
its oldest high school (Boston Latin School
, founded in 1635),
its oldest continuously operating boarding school (The Governor's Academy
, founded in 1763),
its oldest college (Harvard University
, founded in 1636),
and its oldest women's college (Mount Holyoke College
, founded in 1837).
Massachusetts is also home to the highest ranked private high school in the United States, Phillips Academy
in Andover, Massachusetts
, which was founded in 1778.
Massachusetts's per-student public expenditure for elementary and secondary schools was eighth in the nation in 2012, at $14,844.
In 2013, Massachusetts scored highest of all the states in math and third-highest in reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress
Massachusetts' public-school students place among the top tier in the world in academic performance.
Massachusetts is home to 121 institutions of higher education. Harvard University
and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
, both located in Cambridge
, consistently rank among the world's best private universities and universities in general.
In addition to Harvard and MIT, several other Massachusetts universities currently rank in the top 50 at the undergraduate level nationally in the widely cited rankings
of U.S. News and World Report
: Tufts University
(#27), Boston College
(#32), Brandeis University
(#34), Boston University
(#37) and Northeastern University
(#40). Massachusetts is also home to three of the top five U.S. News and World Report'
s best Liberal Arts Colleges: Williams College
(#1), Amherst College
(#2), and Wellesley College
(#4). Boston Architectural College
is New England's largest private college of spatial design
. The public University of Massachusetts
) features five campuses in the state, with its flagship campus
, which enrolls more than 25,000.
In 2015, twelve Fortune 500
companies were located in Massachusetts: Liberty Mutual
, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company
, TJX Companies
, General Electric
, American Tower
, Global Partners
, Thermo Fisher Scientific
, State Street Corporation
, Eversource Energy
, and Boston Scientific
CNBC's list of "Top States for Business for 2014" has recognized Massachusetts as the 25th-best state in the nation for business,
and for the second year in a row the state was ranked by Bloomberg as the most innovative state in America.
According to a 2013 study by Phoenix Marketing International, Massachusetts had the sixth-largest number of millionaires per capita in the United States, with a ratio of 6.73 percent.
Billionaires living in the state include past and present leaders (and related family) of local companies such as Fidelity Investments
, New Balance
, Kraft Group
, Boston Scientific
, and the former Continental Cablevision
Sectors vital to the Massachusetts economy include higher education, biotechnology
, information technology
, finance, health care, tourism, manufacturing, and defense. The Route 128 corridor
and Greater Boston continue to be a major center for venture capital investment
and high technology
remains an important sector. In recent years tourism has played an ever-important role in the state's economy, with Boston and Cape Cod
being the leading destinations.
Other popular tourist destinations include Salem
, and the Berkshires
. Massachusetts is the sixth-most popular tourist destination for foreign travelers.
In 2010, the Great Places in Massachusetts Commission published '1,000 Great Places in Massachusetts' that identified 1,000 sites across the commonwealth to highlight the diverse historic, cultural, and natural attractions.
While manufacturing comprised less than 10% of Massachusetts's gross state product in 2016, the Commonwealth ranked 16th in the nation in total manufacturing output in the United States.
This includes a diverse array of manufactured goods such as medical devices, paper goods, specialty chemicals and plastics, telecommunications and electronics equipment, and machined components.
As of 2012, there were 7,755 farms in Massachusetts encompassing a total of 523,517 acres (2,120 km2
), averaging 67.5 acres (27.3 hectares) apiece.
Particular agricultural products of note include green house products making up more than one third of the state's agricultural output, cranberries, sweet corn and apples are also large sectors of production.
Massachusetts is the second-largest cranberry-producing state in the union after Wisconsin
The more than 33,000 nonprofits in Massachusetts employ one-sixth of the state's workforce.
In 2007, Governor Deval Patrick signed into law a state holiday, Nonprofit Awareness Day.
In February 2017, U.S. News & World Report
ranked Massachusetts the best state in the United States based upon 60 metrics
including healthcare, education, crime, infrastructure, opportunity, economy, and government. The Bay State ranked number one in education, number two in healthcare, and number five in the handling of the economy.
Depending on how it is calculated, state and local tax burden in Massachusetts has been estimated among U.S. states and Washington D.C. as 21st-highest (11.44% or $6,163 per year for a household with nationwide median income)
or 25th-highest overall with below-average corporate taxes (39th-highest), above-average personal income taxes, (13th-highest), above-average sales tax (18th-highest), and below-average property taxes (46th-highest).
In the 1970s, the Commonwealth ranked as a relatively high-tax state, gaining the pejorative nickname "Taxachusetts". This was followed by a round of tax limitations during the 1980s—a conservative period in American politics—including Proposition 2½
As of January 1, 2020, Massachusetts has a flat-rate personal income tax of 5.00%,
after a 2002 voter referendum to eventually lower the rate to 5.0%
as amended by the legislature.
There is a tax exemption
for income below a threshold that varies from year to year. The corporate income tax rate is 8.8%,
and the short-term capital gains tax
rate is 12%.
An unusual provision allows filers to voluntarily pay at the pre-referendum 5.85% income tax rate, which is done by between one and two thousand taxpayers per year.
The state imposes a 6.25% sales tax
on retail sales of tangible personal property—except for groceries, clothing (up to $175.00), and periodicals.
The sales tax is charged on clothing that costs more than $175.00, for the amount exceeding $175.00.
Massachusetts also charges a use tax
when goods are bought from other states and the vendor does not remit Massachusetts sales tax; taxpayers report and pay this on their income tax forms or dedicated forms, though there are "safe harbor" amounts that can be paid without tallying up actual purchases (except for purchases over $1,000).
There is no inheritance tax
and limited Massachusetts estate tax
related to federal estate tax collection.
Massachusetts's electricity generation
market was made competitive in 1998, enabling retail customers to change suppliers without changing utility companies.
In 2018, Massachusetts consumed 1,459 trillion BTU
making it the seventh-lowest state in terms of consumption of energy per capita, and 31 percent of that energy came from natural gas
In 2014 and 2015, Massachusetts was ranked as the most energy efficient state the United States
while Boston is the most efficient city,
but it had the fourth-highest average residential retail electricity prices of any state.
In 2018, renewable energy was about 7.2 percent of total energy consumed in the state, ranking 34th.
Regional public transportation
Fifteen other regional transit authorities provide public transportation in the form of bus services in the rest of the state.
Four heritage railways
are also in operation:
Long-distance rail and bus
operates several inter-city rail
lines connecting Massachusetts. Boston's South Station
serves as the terminus for three lines, namely the high-speed Acela Express
, which links to cities such as Providence
, New Haven
, New York City
, and eventually Washington DC; the Northeast Regional
, which follows the same route but includes many more stops, and also continues further south to Newport News
in Virginia; and the Lake Shore Limited
, which runs westward to Worcester
, and eventually Chicago
Boston's other major station, North Station
, serves as the southern terminus for Amtrak's Downeaster
, which connects to Portland
Outside of Boston, Amtrak connects several cities across Massachusetts, along the aforementioned Acela
, Northeast Regional
, Lake Shore Limited
, and Downeaster
lines, as well as other routes in central and western Massachusetts. The Hartford Line
to New Haven
, operated in conjunction with the Connecticut Department of Transportation
, and the Valley Flyer
runs a similar route but continues further north to Greenfield
. Several stations in western Massachusetts are also served by the Vermonter
, which connects St. Albans, Vermont
to Washington DC.
Amtrak carries more passengers between Boston and New York than all airlines combined (about 54% of market share in 2012),
but service between other cities is less frequent. There, more frequent intercity service is provided by private bus carriers, including Peter Pan Bus Lines
(headquartered in Springfield), Greyhound Lines
. Various Chinatown bus lines
depart for New York from South Station in Boston.
Ferry services are operated throughout different regions of the states.
On the southern shore of the state, several different passenger ferry lines connect Martha's Vineyard
to ports along the mainland, including Woods Hole
, New Bedford
, and Falmouth
, all in Massachusetts, as well as North Kingstown
in Rhode Island, Highlands
in New Jersey, and New York City
in New York.
Similarly, several different lines connect Nantucket
to ports including Hyannis, New Bedford, Harwich
, and New York City.
Service between the two islands is also offered. The dominant companies serving these routes include SeaStreak
, Hy-Line Cruises
, and The Steamship Authority
, the latter of which regulates all passenger services in the region and is also the only company permitted to offer freight ferry services to the islands.
As of 2018, a number of freight railroads
were operating in Massachusetts, with Class I railroad CSX
being the largest carrier, and another Class 1, Norfolk Southern
serving the state via its Pan Am Southern
joint partnership. Several regional and short line railroads also provide service and connect with other railroads.
Massachusetts has a total of 1,110 miles (1,790 km) of freight trackage in operation.
Prominent roads and cities in Massachusetts
There are a total of 36,800 miles (59,200 km) of interstates
and other highways in Massachusetts. Interstate 90
(I-90, also known as the Massachusetts Turnpike), is the longest interstate in Massachusetts. The route travels 136 mi (219 km) generally west to east, entering Massachusetts at the New York state line in the town of West Stockbridge
, and passes just north of Springfield
, just south of Worcester
and through Framingham
before terminating near Logan International Airport in Boston.
Other major interstates include I-91
, which travels generally north and south along the Connecticut River
, which travels north and south through central Boston, then passes through Methuen
before entering New Hampshire; and I-95
, which connects Providence, Rhode Island
with Greater Boston, forming a partial loop concurrent
with Route 128
around the more urbanized areas before continuing north along the coast into New Hampshire.
forms a wide loop around the outer edge of Greater Boston. Other major interstates in Massachusetts include I-291
, and I-190
. Major non-interstate highways in Massachusetts include U.S. Routes1
, and 20
, and state routes 2
, 9, 24
, and 128. A great majority of interstates in Massachusetts were constructed during the mid-20th century, and at times were controversial, particularly the intent to route I-95 northeastwards from Providence, Rhode Island, directly through central Boston
, first proposed in 1948. Opposition to continued construction grew, and in 1970 Governor Francis W. Sargent
issued a general prohibition on most further freeway construction within the I-95/Route 128 loop in the Boston area.
A massive undertaking to bring I-93 underground in downtown Boston, called the Big Dig
, brought the city's highway system under public scrutiny for its high cost and construction quality.
Government and politics
The Government of Massachusetts
is divided into three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. The governor of Massachusetts
heads the executive branch; duties of the governor include signing or vetoing legislation, filling judicial and agency appointments, granting pardons, preparing an annual budget, and commanding the Massachusetts National Guard
Massachusetts governors, unlike those of most other states, are addressed as His/Her Excellency.
The current governor is Charlie Baker
a Republican from Swampscott
The executive branch also includes the Executive Council, which is made up of eight elected councilors and the Lieutenant Governor
currently occupied by Karyn Polito
, a Republican from Shrewsbury
Abilities of the Council include confirming gubernatorial appointments and certifying elections.
The Massachusetts House of Representatives
and Massachusetts Senate
comprise the legislature of Massachusetts, known as the Massachusetts General Court
The House consists of 160 members while the Senate has 40 members.
Leaders of the House and Senate are chosen by the members of those bodies; the leader of the House is known as the Speaker while the leader of the Senate is known as the President.
Each branch consists of several committees.
Members of both bodies are elected to two-year terms.
Massachusetts is one of the most Democratic states in the country. Democratic core concentrations are everywhere, except for a handful of Republican leaning towns in the Central and Southern parts of the state. Until recently, Republicans were dominant in the Western and Northern suburbs of Boston, however both areas heavily swung Democratic in the Trump era. The state as a whole has not given its Electoral College
votes to a Republican in a presidential election
since Ronald Reagan
carried it in 1984
. Additionally, Massachusetts provided Reagan with his smallest margins of victory in both the 1980
and 1984 elections.
Massachusetts had been the only state to vote for Democrat George McGovern
in the 1972 Presidential Election
. In 2020, Biden received 65.6% of the vote
, the best performance in over 50 years for a Democrat.
Democrats have an absolute grip on the Massachusetts congressional delegation; there are no Republicans elected to serve at the federal level. Both Senators and all nine Representatives are Democrats; only one Republican (former Senator Scott Brown
) has been elected to either house of Congress from Massachusetts since 1994. Massachusetts is the most populous state to be represented in the United States Congress
entirely by a single party.
As of the 2018 elections, the Democratic Party holds a super-majority over the Republican Party in both chambers
of the Massachusetts General Court
(state legislature). Out of the state house
's 160 seats, Democrats hold 127 seats (79%) compared to the Republican Party's 32 seats (20%), an independent sits in the remaining one
and 37 out of the 40 seats in the state senate
(92.5%) belong to the Democratic Party compared to the Republican Party's three seats (7.5%).
Both houses of the legislature have had Democratic majorities since the 1950s.
Despite the state's Democratic-leaning tendency, Massachusetts has generally elected Republicans as Governor
: only one Democrat (Deval Patrick
) has served as governor since 1991, and among gubernatorial election results from 2002 to 2018, Republican nominees garnered 48.4% of the vote compared to 45.7% for Democratic nominees.
These have been considered to be among the most moderate Republican leaders in the nation;
they have received higher net favorability ratings from the state's Democrats than Republicans.
A number of contemporary national political issues have been influenced by events in Massachusetts, such as the decision in 2003 by the state Supreme Judicial Court allowing same-sex marriage
and a 2006 bill
which mandated health insurance for all Bay Staters.
In 2008, Massachusetts voters passed an initiative
decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana
Voters in Massachusetts also approved a ballot measure in 2012 that legalized the medical use of marijuana.
Following the approval of a ballot question endorsing legalization in 2016, Massachusetts began issuing licenses for the regulated sale of recreational marijuana in June 2018. The licensed sale of recreational marijuana became legal on July 1, 2018; however, the lack of state-approved testing facilities prevented the sale of any product for several weeks.
However, in 2020, a ballot initiative to implement Ranked-Choice Voting
failed, despite being championed by many progressives
Massachusetts is one of the most pro-choice
states in the Union. A 2014 Pew Research Center
poll found that 74% of Massachusetts residents supported the right to an abortion
in all/most cases, making Massachusetts the most pro-choice state in the United States.
In 2020, the state legislature overrode Governor Charlie Baker
's veto of the ROE Act, a controversial law that codified existing abortion laws in case the Supreme Court
overturned Roe v. Wade
, dropped the age of parental consent for those seeking an abortion from 18 to 16, and legalized abortion after 24 weeks, if a fetus had fatal anomalies, or "to preserve the patient's physical or mental health."
Cities, towns, and counties
There are 50 cities and 301 towns
in Massachusetts, grouped into 14 counties
The fourteen counties, moving roughly from west to east, are Berkshire
, and Nantucket
. Eleven communities which call themselves "towns" are, by law, cities since they have traded the town meeting
form of government for a mayor-council or manager-council form.
Boston is the state capital in Massachusetts. The population of the city proper is 692,600,
and Greater Boston
, with a population of 4,873,019, is the 11th largest metropolitan area
in the nation.
Other cities with a population over 100,000 include Worcester
, and Cambridge
is the largest municipality in the state by land area, followed by Middleborough
Massachusetts, along with the five other New England
states, features the local governmental structure known as the New England town
In this structure, incorporated towns—as opposed to townships or counties—hold many of the responsibilities and powers of local government.
Most of the county governments were abolished by the state of Massachusetts beginning in 1997 including Middlesex County
the largest county in the state by population.
The voters of these now-defunct counties elect only Sheriffs and Registers of Deeds, who are part of the state government. Other counties have been reorganized, and a few still retain county councils.
Arts, culture, and recreation
Massachusetts has the largest population of the New England
states. New Englander culture and identity remains strong in Massachusetts (Flag of New England
Massachusetts has contributed to American arts and culture. Drawing from its Native American
roots, along with later immigrant groups, Massachusetts has produced several writers, artists, and musicians. Some major museums and important historical sites are also located there, and events and festivals throughout the year celebrate the state's history and heritage.
Massachusetts was an early center of the Transcendentalist
movement, which emphasized intuition, emotion, human individuality and a deeper connection with nature. Ralph Waldo Emerson
, who was born in Boston but spent much of his later life in Concord
, largely created the philosophy with his 1836 work Nature
, and continued to be a key figure in the movement for the remainder of his life. Emerson's friend, Henry David Thoreau
, who was also involved in Transcendentalism, recorded his year spent alone in a small cabin at nearby Walden Pond
in the 1854 work Walden; or, Life in the Woods
Other famous authors and poets born or strongly associated with Massachusetts include Anne Bradstreet
, Nathaniel Hawthorne
, Louisa May Alcott
, Robert Frost
, Emily Dickinson
, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
, Edith Wharton
, e.e. cummings
, Herman Melville
, W.E.B. Du Bois
, Sylvia Plath
, Elizabeth Bishop
, John Updike
, Anne Sexton
, H.P. Lovecraft
, Edgar Allan Poe
, Helen Hunt Jackson
, Khalil Gibran
, Mary Higgins Clark
, Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
, Jack Kerouac
and Theodor Seuss Geisel
, better known as "Dr. Seuss".
Famous painters from Massachusetts include Winslow Homer
and Norman Rockwell
many of the latter's works are on display at the Norman Rockwell Museum
Other performing arts and theater organizations in Massachusetts include the Boston Ballet
, the Boston Lyric Opera
and the Lenox
-based Shakespeare & Company
. In addition to classical and folk music, Massachusetts has produced musicians and bands spanning a number of contemporary genres, such as the classic rock
, the proto-punk band The Modern Lovers
, the new wave
band The Cars
, and the alternative rock
The state has also been the birthplace of the Nu Metal
and Heavy Metal
, since they both formed in 1995, in Springfield
and in Lawrence
Film events in the state include the Boston Film Festival
, the Boston International Film Festival
, and a number of smaller film festivals in various cities throughout Massachusetts.
fires a salute during its annual Fourth of July turnaround cruise
Massachusetts is home to a large number of museums and historical sites. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
, and the DeCordova
contemporary art and sculpture museum in Lincoln
are all located within Massachusetts,
and the Maria Mitchell Association
includes several observatories, museums, and an aquarium.
Historically themed museums and sites such as the Springfield Armory National Historic Site
Boston's Freedom Trail
and nearby Minute Man National Historical Park
, both of which preserve a number of sites important during the American Revolution
the Lowell National Historical Park
, which focuses on some of the earliest mills and canals of the industrial revolution
in the US,
the Black Heritage Trail
in Boston, which includes important African-American and abolitionist sites in Boston,
and the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park
all showcase various periods of Massachusetts's history.
There are two major television media markets located in Massachusetts. The Boston/Manchester market is the fifth-largest in the United States.
The other market surrounds the Springfield area. WGBH-TV
in Boston is a major public television station and produces national programs such as Nova
, and American Experience
Map showing the average medicare reimbursement per enrollee for the counties in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts generally ranks highly among states in most health and disease prevention categories. In 2015, the United Health Foundation
ranked the state as third-healthiest overall.
Massachusetts has the most doctors per 100,000 residents,
the second-lowest infant mortality rate
and the lowest percentage of uninsured residents (children as well as the total population).
According to Businessweek
, commonwealth residents have an average life expectancy of 80.41 years, the fifth-longest in the country.
37.2% of the population is overweight and 21.7% is obese,
and Massachusetts ranks sixth-highest in the percentage of residents who are considered neither obese nor overweight (41.1%).
Massachusetts also ranks above average in the prevalence of binge drinking
, which is the 20th-highest in the country.
Several universities in Massachusetts are notable for their collegiate athletics. The state is home to two Division I FBS
teams, Boston College
of the Atlantic Coast Conference
, and FBS IndependentUniversity of Massachusetts at Amherst
play includes Harvard University
, which competes in the famed Ivy League
, and College of the Holy Cross
of the Patriot League
. Boston University
, Northeastern University
, UMASS Lowell
, and Merrimack College
also participate in Division I athletics.
Many other Massachusetts colleges compete in lower divisions such as Division III
, where MIT
, Tufts University
, Amherst College
, Williams College
, and others field competitive teams.
Massachusetts is one of only four U.S. states to use the term "Commonwealth" in its official name, along with Kentucky
, and Pennsylvania
- ^ Herman, Jennifer (2008). Massachusetts Encyclopedia. State History Publications, LLC. p. 7. Various nicknames have been given to describe Massachusetts, including the Bay State, the Old Bay State, the Pilgrim State, the Puritan State, the Old Colony State and, less often, the Baked Bean State
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