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First Slaves Arrive in Massachusetts - History

First Slaves Arrive in Massachusetts - History

The first slaves are recorded as having arrived at the Massachusetts colony on December 12, 1638 on board Desire. In 1641 slavery was officially recognized in Massachusetts. In the Body of Liberty of 1641 it stated: "there shall never be any bond slaveried, villing age or Captivities amongst us, unless it be lawful captives taken in just warres, and such strngers as willingly sell themselves or are sold to us."

The Misguided Focus on 1619 as the Beginning of Slavery in the U.S. Damages Our Understanding of American History

In 1619, 󈬄. and odd Negroes” arrived off the coast of Virginia, where they were “bought for victualle” by labor-hungry English colonists. The story of these captive Africans has set the stage for countless scholars and teachers interested in telling the story of slavery in English North America. Unfortunately, 1619 is not the best place to begin a meaningful inquiry into the history of African peoples in America. Certainly, there is a story to be told that begins in 1619, but it is neither well-suited to help us understand slavery as an institution nor to help us better grasp the complicated place of African peoples in the early modern Atlantic world. For too long, the focus on 1619 has led the general public and scholars alike to ignore more important issues and, worse, to silently accept unquestioned assumptions that continue to impact us in remarkably consequential ways. As a historical signifier, 1619 may be more insidious than instructive.

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The overstated significance of 1619—still a common fixture in American history curriculum—begins with the questions most of us reflexively ask when we consider the first documented arrival of a handful of people from Africa in a place that would one day become the United States of America. First, what was the status of the newly arrived African men and women? Were they slaves? Servants? Something else? And, second, as Winthrop Jordan wondered in the preface to his 1968 classic, White Over Black, what did the white inhabitants of Virginia think when these dark-skinned people were rowed ashore and traded for provisions? Were they shocked? Were they frightened? Did they notice these people were black? If so, did they care?

In truth, these questions fail to approach the subject of Africans in America in a historically responsible way. None of these queries conceive of the newly-arrived Africans as actors in their own right. These questions also assume that the arrival of these people was an exceptional historical moment, and they reflect the worries and concerns of the world we inhabit rather than shedding useful light on the unique challenges of life in the early seventeenth century.

There are important historical correctives to the misplaced marker of 1619 that can help us ask better questions about the past. Most obviously, 1619 was not the first time Africans could be found in an English Atlantic colony, and it certainly wasn’t the first time people of African descent made their mark and imposed their will on the land that would someday be part of the United States. As early as May 1616, blacks from the West Indies were already at work in Bermuda providing expert knowledge about the cultivation of tobacco. There is also suggestive evidence that scores of Africans plundered from the Spanish were aboard a fleet under the command of Sir Francis Drake when he arrived at Roanoke Island in 1586. In 1526, enslaved Africans were part of a Spanish expedition to establish an outpost on the North American coast in present-day South Carolina. Those Africans launched a rebellion in November of that year and effectively destroyed the Spanish settlers’ ability to sustain the settlement, which they abandoned a year later. Nearly 100 years before Jamestown, African actors enabled American colonies to survive, and they were equally able to destroy European colonial ventures.

These stories highlight additional problems with exaggerating the importance of 1619. Privileging that date and the Chesapeake region effectively erases the memory of many more African peoples than it memorializes. The “from-this-point-forward” and “in-this-place” narrative arc silences the memory of the more than 500,000 African men, women, and children who had already crossed the Atlantic against their will, aided and abetted Europeans in their endeavors, provided expertise and guidance in a range of enterprises, suffered, died, and – most importantly – endured. That Sir John Hawkins was behind four slave-trading expeditions during the 1560s suggests the degree to which England may have been more invested in African slavery than we typically recall. Tens of thousands of English men and women had meaningful contact with African peoples throughout the Atlantic world before Jamestown. In this light, the events of 1619 were a bit more yawn-inducing than we typically allow.

Telling the story of 1619 as an “English” story also ignores the entirely transnational nature of the early modern Atlantic world and the way competing European powers collectively facilitated racial slavery even as they disagreed about and fought over almost everything else. From the early 1500s forward, the Portuguese, Spanish, English, French, Dutch and others fought to control the resources of the emerging transatlantic world and worked together to facilitate the dislocation of the indigenous peoples of Africa and the Americas. As historian John Thornton has shown us, the African men and women who appeared almost as if by chance in Virginia in 1619 were there because of a chain of events involving Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands and England. Virginia was part of the story, but it was a blip on the radar screen.

These concerns about making too much of 1619 are likely familiar to some readers. But they may not even be the biggest problem with overemphasizing this one very specific moment in time. The worst aspect of overemphasizing 1619 may be the way it has shaped the black experience of living in America since that time. As we near the 400th anniversary of 1619 and new works appear that are timed to remember the “firstness” of the arrival of a few African men and women in Virginia, it is important to remember that historical framing shapes historical meaning. How we choose to characterize the past has important consequences for how we think about today and what we can imagine for tomorrow.

In that light, the most poisonous consequence of raising the curtain with 1619 is that it casually normalizes white Christian Europeans as historical constants and makes African actors little more than dependent variables in the effort to understand what it means to be American. Elevating 1619 has the unintended consequence of cementing in our minds that those very same Europeans who lived quite precipitously and very much on death’s doorstep on the wisp of America were, in fact, already home. But, of course, they were not. Europeans were the outsiders. Selective memory has conditioned us to employ terms like settlers and colonists when we would be better served by thinking of the English as invaders or occupiers. In 1619, Virginia was still Tsenacommacah, Europeans were the non-native species, and the English were the illegal aliens. Uncertainty was still very much the order of the day.

When we make the mistake of fixing this place in time as inherently or inevitably English, we prepare the ground for the assumption that the United States already existed in embryonic fashion. When we allow that idea to go unchallenged, we silently condone the notion that this place is, and always has been, white, Christian, and European.

Where does that leave Africans and people of African descent? Unfortunately, the same insidious logic of 1619 that reinforces the illusion of white permanence necessitates that blacks can only be, ipso facto, abnormal, impermanent, and only tolerable to the degree that they adapt themselves to someone else’s fictional universe. Remembering 1619 may be a way of accessing the memory and dignifying the early presence of black people in the place that would become the United States, but it also imprints in our minds, our national narratives, and our history books that blacks are not from these parts. When we elevate the events of 1619, we establish the conditions for people of African descent to remain, forever, strangers in a strange land.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We shouldn’t ignore that something worth remembering happened in 1619. There are certainly stories worth telling and lives worth remembering, but history is also an exercise in crafting narratives that give voice to the past in order to engage with the present. The year 1619 might seem long ago for people more attuned to the politics of life in the 21st century. But if we can do a better job of situating the foundational story of black history and the history of slavery in North America in its proper context, then perhaps we can articulate an American history that doesn’t essentialize notions of “us” and “them” (in the broadest possible and various understandings of those words). That would be a pretty good first step, and it would make it much easier to sink our teeth into the rich and varied issues that continue to roil the world today.

This story was originally published on Black Perspectives, an online platform for public scholarship on global black thought, history and culture. 

Fact check: First slaves in North American colonies were not “100 white children from Ireland”

Shared thousands of times on Facebook, a meme showing a black-and-white photograph of three white children in ragged clothing claims that “the first slaves imported into the American colonies were 100 White children in 1619, four months before the arrival of the first shipment of Black slaves.” This claim is false.

Examples of the posts can be found here , here , and here .

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a civil rights organization that tracks hate and extremist groups ( www.splcenter.org/hate-map ), the myth of the “Irish slaves” has been a favorite meme of the far-right for the past few years ( here ). Described by the SPLC as historical “revisionism,” the narrative “has attracted Neo-Nazis, White Nationalists, Neo-Confederates, and even Holocaust deniers, while racist trolls have deployed the myth to attack the Black Lives Matter movement.”

Interviewed by the SPLC, Liam Hogan, an Irish librarian and independent scholar, has written extensively on these memes since he first saw one in 2013 ( here, tinyurl.com/y9yho7mg ).

The image in the social media posts, taken by Lewis W. Hine, is titled “Young Oyster Shuckers” and has the following caption: “Group portrait of young girls working as oyster shuckers at the canning company at Port Royal, SC, 1911. From left to right: Josie, six years old, Bertha, six years old, and Sophie, 10 years old.” The photo was taken over four decades after the end of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery in the U.S. (here ).

The claim that the first slaves to arrive in the American colonies were white children is false. The Africans who were taken to the colony of Virginia in 1619 had been captured in Angola ( here ). In the summer of 1619, two English ships attacked a Portuguese ship carrying 350 African captives, taking 50-60 Africans with them to Virginia. The first British ship arrived with 20 enslaved Africans, making them the first to arrive in the American colonies and inspiring the New York Times’ 1619 Project ( here , here ).

A timeline of Virginia records provided by the Library of Congress does not mention the arrival of a shipment of “100 White children” from Ireland at any point between 1600 and 1743 (here).

It is true that Irish people were among the hundreds of thousands of indentured servants who came to North America between the 17th and 19th centuries ( here , here ). Indentured servitude describes a system of labor by which a servant worked for four to seven years in exchange for passage to and food and shelter in the New World ( here ). Historian Alan Taylor explained that many of these indentured servants prior to 1620 “were forcibly transported either as unwanted orphans or as criminals punished for vagrancy and petty theft,” while after 1620 most were “technically volunteers” ( here ).

The life of an indentured servant was hard ( here ). Servants received severe punishments, and contracts could be extended for breaking a law like running away, or becoming pregnant. But although the system was harsh, it can’t be equated with the brutal system of racialized chattel slavery that came to dominate the American agricultural economy by the turn of the 18th century. Though some of the first enslaved Africans were initially treated similarly to indentured servants, slave laws passed in Massachusetts in 1641 and in Virginia in 1661 stripped blacks of any freedom they had been previously given.

Slavery in British North America and eventually the United States was not only a permanent condition, but a hereditary one passed down from mother to child ( here , here ). Considered chattel, enslaved people were bought, sold, and treated as property ( here ). This was not the case with indentured servitude, which declined in the second half of the 17th century as colonists made the full transition to African slave labor ( here, here, here ) Provided by the Library of Congress, collections of primary sources on American slavery can be found here .

The Horrible Fate of John Casor, The First Black Man to be Declared Slave for Life in America

The only date definitely connected to John Casor’s life is this day in 1654 or 1655. It’s not when he was born, when he achieved something or when he died. It’s when he became a slave.

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Casor was originally an indentured servant, which meant he was practically a slave in some senses. But what was bought or sold wasn’t him, it was his contract of indenture, which obligated him to work for its holder for the period it set. At the end of that time, indentured servants—who could be of any race—were considered legally free and sent out into the world.

This might sound like a rough deal, but indenture was how the British colonizers who lived in what would later become the United States managed to populate the land and get enough people to do the back-breaking work of farming crops like tobacco in the South.

People who survived their period of indenture (many didn’t) went on to live free lives in the colonies, often after receiving some kind of small compensation like clothes, land or tools to help set them up, writes Ariana Kyl for Today I Found Out.

That was the incentive that caused many poor whites to indenture themselves and their families and move to the so-called New World. But Africans who were indentured were often captured and brought over against their will. That's what happened to the holder of Casor’s indenture, Anthony Johnson. Johnson served out his contract and went on to run his own tobacco farm and hold his own indentured servants, among them Casor. At this time, the colony of Virginia had very few black people in it: Johnson was one of the original 20.

After a disagreement about whether or not Casor's contract was lapsed, a court ruled in favor of Johnson and Casor saw the status of his indenture turn into slavery, where he—not his contract—was considered property. Casor claimed that he had served his indenture of “seaven or Eight years” and seven more years on top of that. The court sided with Johnson, who claimed that Casor was his slave for life.

So Casor became the first person to be arbitrarily declared a slave for life in the U.S. (An earlier case had ended with a man named John Punch being declared a slave for life as a punishment for trying to escape his indentured servitude. His fellow escapees, who were white, were not punished in this way.) Of course, as Wesleyan University notes, “the Transatlantic slave trade from Africa to the Americas had been around for over a century already, originating around 1500.” Slaves, usually captured and sold by other African tribes, were transported across the Atlantic to the Americas, the university’s blog notes. Around 11 million people were transported from 1500 to 1850, mostly to Brazil and the Caribbean islands. If they arrived in America, originally they became indentured servants if they arrived elsewhere, they became slaves.

Casor’s story is particularly grim in hindsight. His slip into slavery would be followed by many, many other people of African descent who were declared property in what became the United States. It was a watershed moment in the history of institutional slavery.

“About seven years later, Virginia made this practice legal for everyone, in 1661, by making it state law for any free white, black or Indian to be able to own slaves, along with indentured servants,” Kyl writes. The step from there to a racialized idea of slavery wasn’t a huge one, she writes, and by the time Johnson died in 1670, his race was used to justify giving his plantation to a white man rather than Johnson’s children by his wife, Mary. He was “not a citizen of the colony,” a judge ruled, because he was black.

About Kat Eschner

Kat Eschner is a freelance science and culture journalist based in Toronto.


Massachusetts was originally inhabited by tribes of the Algonquian language family such as the Wampanoag, Narragansetts, Nipmucs, Pocomtucs, Mahicans, and Massachusetts. [1] [2] The Vermont and New Hampshire borders and the Merrimack River valley was the traditional home of the Pennacook tribe. Cape Cod, Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, and southeast Massachusetts were the home of the Wampanoags who established a close bond with the Pilgrim Fathers. The extreme end of the Cape was inhabited by the closely related Nauset tribe. Much of the central portion and the Connecticut River valley was home to the loosely organized Nipmucs. The Berkshires were the home of both the Pocomtuc and the Mahican tribes. Narragansetts from Rhode Island and Mahicans from Connecticut Colony were also present.

These tribes were generally dependent on hunting and fishing for most of their food supply. [1] Villages consisted of lodges called wigwams as well as long houses, [2] and tribes were led by male or female elders known as sachems. [3] Europeans began exploring the coast in the 16th century, but they made few attempts at permanent settlement anywhere. Early European explorers of the New England coast included Bartholomew Gosnold who named Cape Cod in 1602, Samuel de Champlain who charted the northern coast as far as Cape Cod in 1605 and 1606, John Smith, and Henry Hudson. Fishing ships from Europe also worked in the rich waters off the coast, and may have traded with some of the tribes. Large numbers of Indians were decimated by virgin soil epidemics, perhaps including smallpox, measles, influenza, or leptospirosis. [4] In 1617–1619, a disease killed 90 percent of the Indians in the region. [5]

The first settlers in Massachusetts were the Pilgrims who established Plymouth Colony in 1620 and developed friendly relations with the Wampanoag people. [6] This was the second permanent English colony in America following Jamestown Colony. The Pilgrims had migrated from England to Holland to escape religious persecution for rejecting England's official church. They were allowed religious liberty in Holland, but they gradually became concerned that the next generation would lose their distinct English heritage. They approached the Virginia Company and asked to settle "as a distinct body of themselves" [ citation needed ] in America. In the fall of 1620, they sailed to America on the Mayflower, first landing near Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod. The area did not lie within their charter, so the Pilgrims created the Mayflower Compact before landing, one of America's first documents of self-governance. The first year was extremely difficult, with inadequate supplies and very harsh weather, but Wampanoag sachem Massasoit and his people assisted them.

In 1621, the Pilgrims celebrated their first Thanksgiving Day together to thank God for the blessings of good harvest and survival. This Thanksgiving came to represent the peace that existed at that time between the Wampanoags and the Pilgrims, although only about half of the Mayflower company survived the first year. The colony grew slowly over the next ten years, and was estimated to have 300 inhabitants by 1630. [7]

A group of fur-trappers and traders established Wessagusset Colony near the Plymouth colony in Weymouth in 1622. They abandoned it in 1623, and it was replaced by another small colony led by Robert Gorges. This settlement also failed, and individuals from these colonies returned to England, joined the Plymouth colonists, or established individual outposts elsewhere on the shores of Massachusetts Bay. In 1624, the Dorchester Company established a settlement on Cape Ann. This colony only survived until 1626, although a few settlers remained.

The Pilgrims were followed by Puritans who established the Massachusetts Bay Colony at Salem (1629) and Boston (1630). [8] The Puritans strongly dissented from the theology and church polity of the Church of England, and they came to Massachusetts for religious freedom. [9] The Bay Colony was founded under a royal charter, unlike Plymouth Colony. The Puritan migration was mainly from East Anglia and southwestern regions of England, with an estimated 20,000 immigrants between 1628 and 1642. Massachusetts Bay colony quickly eclipsed Plymouth in population and economy, the chief factors being the large influx of population, more suitable harbor facilities for trade, and the growth of a prosperous merchant class.

Religious dissension and expansionism led to the founding of several new colonies shortly after Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay. Dissenters such as Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson were banished due to religious disagreements with Massachusetts Bay authorities. Williams established Providence Plantations in 1636. Over the next few years, another group, which included Hutchinson, established Newport and Portsmouth these settlements eventually joined to form the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Others left Massachusetts Bay in order to establish other settlements, including Connecticut Colony on the Connecticut River and New Haven Colony on the coast.

In 1636, a group of settlers led by William Pynchon founded Springfield, Massachusetts (originally named Agawam), after scouting for the region's most advantageous location for trading and farming. [10] [11] Springfield is located just north of the first of Connecticut River's unnavigable waterfalls, and it also sits amid the fertile valley which contains New England's best agricultural land. The Indian tribes surrounding Springfield were friendly, which was not always the case for the fledgling Connecticut colonies. [11] [12] Pynchon annexed Springfield to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1640 rather than the much closer Connecticut Colony over tensions with Connecticut following the Pequot War. [13] Massachusetts Bay Colony's southern and western borders were thus established in 1640. [14]

King Philip's War (1675–76) was the bloodiest Indian war of the colonial period. In little over a year, Indians attacked nearly half of the region's towns, and they burned to the ground the major settlements at Providence and Springfield. New England's economy was all but ruined, and much of its population was killed. [15] [16] Proportionately, it was one of the bloodiest and costliest wars in the history of North America. [17]

The Massachusetts legislature established a mint to produce the pine tree shilling beginning in 1642. John Hull and his partner Robert Sanderson in charge of the "Hull Mint". [18] In 1645, the General Court ordered rural towns to increase sheep production. Sheep provided meat and especially wool for the local cloth industry, avoiding the expense of imports of British cloth. [19] Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660 and began to scrutinize the governmental oversight in the colonies, and Parliament passed the Navigation Acts to regulate trade for England's benefit. Massachusetts and Rhode Island had thriving merchant fleets, and they often ran afoul of the trade regulations. King Charles formally vacated the Massachusetts charter in 1684.

Friction erupted with the Indians in King Philip's War in the 1670s. Puritanism was the established religion in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and dissenters were banished, leading to the establishment of the Rhode Island Colony.

In 1660, King Charles II was restored to the throne. Colonial matters brought to his attention led him to propose the amalgamation of all of the New England colonies into a single administrative unit. In 1685, he was succeeded by James II, an outspoken Catholic who implemented the proposal. In June 1684, the charter of the Massachusetts Bay Colony was annulled, but its government continued to rule until James appointed Joseph Dudley to the new post of President of New England in 1686. Dudley established his authority later in New Hampshire and the King's Province (part of current Rhode Island), maintaining this position until Sir Edmund Andros arrived to become the Royal Governor of the Dominion of New England. The rule of Andros was unpopular. He ruled without a representative assembly, vacated land titles, restricted town meetings, enforced the Navigation Acts, and promoted the Church of England, angering virtually every segment of Massachusetts colonial society. Andros dealt a major blow to the colonists by challenging their title to the land unlike England the great majority of New Englanders were land-owners. Taylor says that because they "regarded secure real estate as fundamental to their liberty, status, and prosperity, the colonists felt horrified by the sweeping and expensive challenge to their land titles." [20]

After James II was overthrown by William III and Mary II in late 1688, Boston colonists overthrew Andros and his officials in 1689. Both Massachusetts and Plymouth returned to their previous governments until 1692. During King William's War (1689–1697), the colony launched an unsuccessful expedition against Quebec under Sir William Phips in 1690, which had been financed by issuing paper bonds set against the gains expected from taking the city. [21] The colony continued to be on the front lines of the war, and experienced widespread French and Indian raids on its northern and western frontiers.

In 1691, William and Mary chartered the Province of Massachusetts Bay, combining the territories of Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, Maine, Nova Scotia (which then included New Brunswick), and the islands south of Cape Cod. For its first governor they chose Sir William Phips. Phips came to Boston in 1692 to begin his rule, and was immediately thrust into the witchcraft hysteria in Salem. He established the court that heard the notorious Salem witch trials, and oversaw the war effort until he was recalled in 1694.

Economy Edit

The province was the largest and most economically important in New England, and one where many American institutions and traditions were formed. Unlike southern colonies, it was built around small towns rather than scattered farms. The westernmost portion of Massachusetts, the Berkshires, was settled during the three decades following the end of the French and Indian War, largely by Scots. Sir Francis Bernard, the Royal Governor, named this new area "Berkshire" after his home county in England. The largest settlement in Berkshire County was Pittsfield, Massachusetts, founded in 1761. [22]

The educational system, headed by Harvard College, was the best in the 13 colonies. Newspapers became a major communications system in the 18th century, with Boston taking a leading role in the British colonies. [23] Teenaged Benjamin Franklin (born on January 17, 1706, in Milk Street) worked on one of the earliest newspapers, The New-England Courant (owned by his brother) until he ran away to Philadelphia in 1723. Five Boston newspapers presented a full range of opinions during the coming of the American revolution. In Worcester, printer Isaiah Thomas made the Massachusetts Spy the influential voice of the western settlers. [24]

Farming was the largest economic activity. Most farming towns were largely self-sufficient, with families trading with each other for items they did not produce themselves the surplus was sold to cities. [25] and Fishing was important in coastal towns like Marblehead. Great quantities of cod were exported to the slave colonies in the West Indies. [26] Merchant trade was based in Salem and Boston, and numerous wealthy merchants traded internationally. They typically stationed their sons and nephews as agents in ports around the empire. [27] Their business grew dramatically after 1783 when they no longer were confined to the British Empire. [28] Shipbuilding was a fast-growing industry. Most other manufactured products were imported from Britain (or smuggled in from the Netherlands).

Banking Edit

In 1690, the Massachusetts Bay Colony became the first to issue paper money in what would become the United States, but soon others began printing their own money as well. The demand for currency in the colonies was due to the scarcity of coins, which had been the primary means of trade. [29] Colonies' paper currencies were used to pay for their expenses and lend money to the colonies' citizens. Paper money quickly became the primary means of exchange within each colony, and it even began to be used in financial transactions with other colonies. [30] However, some of the currencies were not redeemable in gold or silver, which caused them to depreciate. [29] With the Currency Act of 1751, the British parliament limited the ability of the New England colonies to issue fiat paper currency. Under the 1751 act, the New England colonial governments could make paper money legal tender for the payment of public debts (such as taxes), and could issue bills of credit as a tool of government finance, but barred the use of paper money as legal tender for private debts. [31] Under continued pressure from the British merchant-creditors who disliked being paid in depreciated paper currency, the subsequent Currency Act of 1764 banned the issuance of bills of credit (paper money) throughout the colonies. [31] [32] Colonial governments used workarounds to accept paper notes as payment for taxes and pressured Parliament to repeal the prohibition on paper money as legal tender for public debts, which Parliament ultimately did in 1773. [31]

The colony was always short of gold and silver and printed a great deal of paper money, which caused inflation that favored farmers but angered business interests. By 1750, however, the colony recalled its paper currency and transitioned to a specie currency based on the British reimbursement (in gold and silver) for its spending in the French and Indian wars. The large-scale merchants and Royal officials welcomed the transition but many farmers and smaller businessmen were opposed. [33]

Wars with France Edit

The colony fought alongside British regulars in a series of French and Indian Wars characterized by brutal border raids and attacks by Indians organized and supplied by New France. Particularly in King William's War (1689–97) and Queen Anne's War (1702–13), the colony's rural communities were directly exposed to French and Indian attacks, with Deerfield raided in 1704 and Haverhill raided in 1708. Boston responded, launching naval expeditions against Acadia and Quebec in both wars.

During Queen Anne's War, Massachusetts men were involved in the Conquest of Acadia (1710), which became the Province of Nova Scotia. The province was also involved in Dummer's War, which drove Indian tribes from northern New England. In 1745, during King George's War, Massachusetts provincial forces successfully besieged Fortress Louisbourg. The fortress was returned to France at the end of the war, angering many colonists who viewed it as a threat to their security. During the French and Indian War, Governor William Shirley was instrumental in the Expulsion of the Acadians from Nova Scotia and trying to settle them in New England. After the expulsion, Shirley also was involved in transporting New England Planters to settle Nova Scotia on the former Acadian farms. [34] Many troops from Massachusetts participated in the successful Siege of Havana in 1762. Britain's victory in the war led to its acquisition of New France, removing the immediate northern threat to Massachusetts that the French had posed.

Disasters Edit

Boston was hit by a major smallpox epidemic in 1721. Some colonial leaders called for use of the new technique of inoculation, whereby a patient would get a weak form of the disease and become permanently immune. Puritan minister Cotton Mather and physician Zabdiel Boylston led the drive for inoculation, while physician William Douglass and newspaper editor James Franklin led the opposition. [35]

In 1755, about 4:15 am on Tuesday, November 18, was the most destructive earthquake yet known in New England. The first pulsations of the ground were followed for about a minute of tremulous motion. Next came a quick vibration and several jerks much worse than the first. Houses rocked and cracked furniture fell over. Dr. Edward A. Holyoke, of Salem, wrote in his diary that he "thought of nothing less than being buried instantly in the ruins of the house." The shaking continued for two to three minutes more, and seemed to move from northwest to southeast. The ocean along the coast was affected ships shook so much that sleeping sailors awoke, thinking they had run aground. In Boston, the earthquake threw dishes on the floor, stopped clocks, and bent vane-rods on churches and Faneuil Hall. Stone walls collapsed. New springs appeared, and old springs dried up. Subterranean streams changed their courses, emptying many wells. The worst damage was to chimneys. In Boston alone, about a hundred were leveled about fifteen hundred were damaged, the streets in some places almost covered with fallen bricks. Falling chimneys broke some roofs. Many wooden buildings in Boston were thrown down, and some brick buildings suffered the gable ends of twelve or fifteen were knocked down to the eaves. Despite the danger and many narrow escapes, no one was killed or seriously injured. Aftershocks continued for four days. [36] [37]

Politics Edit

The relationship between the provincial government and the crown-appointed governor was often difficult and contentious. The governors sought to assert the royal prerogatives granted in the provincial charter, and the provincial government sought to strip or minimize the governor's power. For example, each governor was ordered to enact legislation for providing permanent salaries for crown officials, but the legislature refused to do so, using its ability to grant stipends annually as a means of control over the governor. The province's periodic issuance of paper currency was also a persistent source of friction between factions in the province, due to its inflationary effects. Notable royal governors during this period were Joseph Dudley, Thomas Hutchinson, Jonathan Belcher, Francis Bernard, and General Thomas Gage. Gage was the last British governor of Massachusetts, and his effective rule extended to little more than Boston.

Massachusetts was a center of the movement for independence from Great Britain, earning it the nickname, the "Cradle of Liberty". Colonists here had long had uneasy relations with the British monarchy, including open rebellion under the Dominion of New England in the 1680s. [38] The Boston Tea Party is an example of the protest spirit in the early 1770s, while the Boston Massacre escalated the conflict. [39] Anti-British activity by men like Sam Adams and John Hancock, followed by reprisals by the British government, were a primary reason for the unity of the Thirteen Colonies and the outbreak of the American Revolution. [40] The Battles of Lexington and Concord initiated the American Revolutionary War and were fought in the Massachusetts towns of Lexington and Concord. [41] Future President George Washington took over what would become the Continental Army after the battle. His first victory was the Siege of Boston in the winter of 1775–76, after which the British were forced to evacuate the city. [42] The event is still celebrated in Suffolk County as Evacuation Day. [43] In 1777, George Washington and Henry Knox founded the Arsenal at Springfield, which catalyzed many innovations in Massachusetts' Connecticut River Valley.

Boston Massacre Edit

Boston was the center of revolutionary activity in the decade before 1775, with Massachusetts natives Samuel Adams, John Adams, and John Hancock as leaders who would become important in the revolution. Boston had been under military occupation since 1768. When customs officials were attacked by mobs, two regiments of British regulars arrived. They had been housed in the city with increasing public outrage.

In Boston on March 5, 1770, what began as a rock-throwing incident against a few British soldiers ended in the shooting of five men by British soldiers in what became known as the Boston Massacre. The incident caused further anger against British authority in the commonwealth over taxes and the presence of the British soldiers.

Boston Tea Party Edit

One of the many taxes protested by the colonists was a tax on tea, imposed when Parliament passed the Townshend Acts, and retained when most of the provisions of those acts were repealed. With the passage of the Tea Act in 1773, tea sold by the British East India Company would become less expensive than smuggled tea, and there would be reduced profit-making opportunities for Massachusetts merchants traded in tea. This led to protests against the delivery of the company's tea to Boston. On December 16, 1773, when a tea ship of the East India Company was planning to land taxed tea in Boston, a group of local men known as the Sons of Liberty sneaked onto the boat the night before it was to be unloaded and dumped all the tea into the harbor, an act known as the Boston Tea Party.

American Revolution Edit

The Boston Tea Party prompted the British government to pass the Intolerable Acts in 1774 that brought stiff punishment on Massachusetts. They closed the port of Boston, the economic lifeblood of the Commonwealth, and reduced self-government. Local self-government was ended and the colony put under military rule. The Patriots formed the Massachusetts Provincial Congress after the provincial legislature was disbanded by Governor Gage. The suffering of Boston and the tyranny of its rule caused great sympathy and stirred resentment throughout the Thirteen Colonies. On February 9, 1775, the British Parliament declared Massachusetts to be in rebellion, and sent additional troops to restore order to the colony. With the local population largely opposing British authority, troops moved from Boston on April 18, 1775, to destroy the military supplies of local resisters in Concord. Paul Revere made his famous ride to warn the locals in response to this march. On the 19th, in the Battles of Lexington and Concord, where the famous "shot heard 'round the world" was fired, British troops, after running over the Lexington militia, were forced back into the city by local resistors. The city was quickly brought under siege. Fighting broke out again in June when the British took the Charlestown Peninsula in the Battle of Bunker Hill after the colonial militia fortified Breed's Hill. The British won the battle, but at a very large cost, and were unable to break the siege. The British made a desperate attempt by using biological weapons against the Americans by sending infected civilians with smallpox behind American lines but this was soon contained by Continental General George Washington who launched a vaccination program to ensure his troops and civilians were in good health after the damage biological warfare caused. Soon after the Battle of Bunker Hill, General George Washington took charge of the rebel army, and when he acquired heavy cannon in March 1776, the British were forced to leave, marking the first great colonial victory of the war. Ever since, "Evacuation Day" has been celebrated as a state holiday.

Massachusetts was not invaded again but in 1779 the disastrous Penobscot Expedition took place in the District of Maine, then part of the Commonwealth. Trapped by the British fleet, the American sailors sank the ships of the Massachusetts state navy before it could be captured by the British. In May 1778, the section of Freetown that later became Fall River was raided by the British, and in September 1778, the communities of Martha's Vineyard and New Bedford were also subjected to a British raid.

John Adams was a leader in the independence movement and he helped secure a unanimous vote for independence and on July 4, 1776, the United States Declaration of Independence was adopted in Philadelphia. It was signed first by Massachusetts resident John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress. Soon afterward the Declaration of Independence was read to the people of Boston from the balcony of the State House. Massachusetts was no longer a colony it was a state and part of a new nation, the United States of America.

A Constitutional Convention drew up a state constitution, which was drafted primarily by John Adams, and ratified by the people on June 15, 1780. Adams, along with Samuel Adams and James Bowdoin, wrote in the Preamble to the Constitution of the Commonwealth:

We, therefore, the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the goodness of the Great Legislator of the Universe, in affording us, in the course of His Providence, an opportunity, deliberately and peaceably, without fraud, violence or surprise, on entering into an Original, explicit, and Solemn Compact with each other and of forming a new Constitution of Civil Government, for Ourselves and Posterity, and devoutly imploring His direction in so interesting a design, Do agree upon, ordain and establish, the following Declaration of Rights, and Frame of Government, as the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Bostonian John Adams, known as the "Atlas of Independence", was an important figure in both the struggle for independence as well as the formation of the new United States. [44] Adams was highly involved in the push for separation from Britain and the writing of the Massachusetts Constitution in 1780 (which, in the Elizabeth Freeman and Quock Walker cases, effectively made Massachusetts the first state to have a constitution that declared universal rights and, as interpreted by Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice William Cushing, abolished slavery). [44] [45] Adams became minister to Britain in the 1780s, Vice President in 1789 and succeeded Washington as President in 1797. His son, John Quincy Adams, would go on to become the sixth US President.

The new constitution Edit

Massachusetts was the first state in the United States to abolish slavery. (Vermont, which became part of the U.S. in 1791, abolished adult slavery somewhat earlier than Massachusetts, in 1777.) The new constitution also dropped any religious tests for political office, though local tax money had to be paid to support local churches. People who belonged to non-Congregational churches paid their tax money to their own church, and the churchless paid to the Congregationalists. Baptist leader Isaac Backus vigorously fought these provisions, arguing people should have freedom of choice regarding financial support of religion. Adams drafted most of the document and despite numerous amendments it still follows his line of thought. He distrusted utopians and pure democracy, and put his faith in a system of checks and balances he admired the principles of the unwritten British Constitution. He insisted on a bicameral legislature which would represent both the gentlemen and the common citizen. Above all he insisted on a government by laws, not men. [46] The constitution also changed the name of the Massachusetts Bay State to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Still in force, it is the oldest constitution in current use in the world.

Shays' Rebellion Edit

The economy of rural Massachusetts suffered an economic depression after the war ended. Merchants, pressured for hard currency by overseas partners, made similar demands on local debtors, and the state raised taxes in order to pay off its own war debts. Efforts to collect both public and private debts from cash-poor farmers led to protests that flared into direct action in August 1786. Rebels calling themselves Regulators (after the North Carolina Regulator movement of the 1760s) succeeded in shutting down courts meeting to hear debt and tax collection cases. By the end of 1786 a farmer in western Massachusetts named Daniel Shays emerged as one of the ringleaders, and government attempts to squelch the protests only served to radicalize the protestors. In January 1787 Shays and Luke Day organized an attempt to take the federal Springfield Armory state militia holding the armory beat back the attempt with cannon fire. A private militia raised by wealthy Boston merchants and led by General Benjamin Lincoln broke the back of the rebellion in early February at Petersham, but small-scale resistance continued in the western parts of the state for a while. [47]

The state put down the rebellion—but if it had been too weak to do so it would be no help to call on the ineffective federal government. The event led nationalists like George Washington to redouble efforts to strengthen the weak national government as necessary for survival in a dangerous world. Massachusetts, divided along class lines polarized by the rebellion, only narrowly ratified the United States Constitution in 1788. [48]

Johnny Appleseed Edit

John Chapman often called Johnny "Appleseed" (born on September 26, 1774, in Leominster, Massachusetts) was an American folk hero and pioneer nurseryman who introduced apple trees and established orchards to many areas in the Midwestern region of the country including Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana. Today, Appleseed is the official folk hero of Massachusetts and his stature has served a focus in many children's books, movies, and folk tales since the end of the Civil War. [49]

In 1836, Mary Lyon opened Mount Holyoke College, the first women's college in America. Lyon, a very active Congregationalist, promoted the college as an exemplification of the ideas of revivalist Jonathan Edwards regarding self-restraint, self-denial, and disinterested benevolence. [50] One of the first students was reclusive poet Emily Dickinson.

During the 19th century, Massachusetts became a national leader in the American Industrial Revolution, with factories around Boston producing textiles and shoes, and factories around Springfield producing precision manufacturing tools and paper. [51] The economy transformed from one based primarily on agriculture to an industrial one, initially making use of waterpower and later the steam engine to power factories, and canals and later railroads for transporting goods and materials. [52] At first, the new industries drew labor from Yankees on nearby subsistence farms, and later relied upon Catholic immigrants from Ireland and Canada. [53]

Industrial development Edit

Massachusetts became a leader in industrial innovation and development during the 19th century. Since colonial times, there had been a successful iron making industry in New England. The first successful ironworks in America was established at Saugus in 1646, [54] utilizing bog iron from swamps to produce plows, nails, firearms, hoops for barrels and other items necessary for the development of the Colony. Other industries would be established during this period, such as shipbuilding, lumber, paper and furniture making. These small-scale shops and factories often utilized the State's many rivers and streams to power their machinery.

While Samuel Slater had established the first successful textile mill at Pawtucket, Rhode Island, in 1793, there remained no way to efficiently mass-produce cloth from the spun yarn produced by the early mills. The yarn was still outsourced to small weaving shops where it was woven into cloth on hand looms. The first woolen mill, and the second textile mill in the Blackstone Valley, was a "wool carding mill", established in 1810 by Daniel Day, near the West River and Blackstone River at Uxbridge, Massachusetts. Then, in 1813, a group of wealthy Boston merchants led by Francis Cabot Lowell, known as the Boston Associates, established the first successful integrated textile mill in North America at Waltham. [55] Lowell had visited England in 1810 and studied the Lancashire textile industry. Because the British government prohibited the export of this new technology, Lowell memorized plans for the power looms on his return trip to Boston. With the skill of master mechanic Paul Moody, the first successful power looms were produced, harnessing the power of the Charles River. For the first time, all phases of textile production could now be performed under one roof, greatly increasing production, and profits. This was the real beginning of the Industrial Revolution in America.

With the early success of the Boston Manufacturing Company at Waltham, the Boston Associates would also later establish several other textile towns, including Lowell in 1823, Lawrence in 1845, Chicopee in 1848 and Holyoke in 1850.

Lowell grew quickly to a city of 33,000 people by 1850. Its mills were highly integrated and centrally controlled. An ingenious canal system provided the water power that drove the machinery. Steam power would be introduced beginning in the 1850s. The mill owners initially employed local farm women, often recruited from poor, remote parts of New England, and attempted to create a Utopian industrial society by providing housing, churches, schools and parks for their workers, unlike their English counterparts. Eventually, as the mills grew larger and larger, the owners turned to newly arrived Irish immigrants to fill their factories.

Industrial cities, especially Worcester and Springfield, became important centers in textile machinery (in Worcester's case) and precision tool production and innovation (in Springfield's case.) While Boston did not have many large factories, it became increasingly important as the business and transportation hub of all of New England, as well as a national leader in finance, law, medicine, education, arts and publishing.

Railroads Edit

In 1826, the Granite Railway became the first commercial railroad in the nation. In 1830, the legislature chartered three new railroads—the Boston and Lowell, the Boston and Providence, and most important of all, the Boston and Worcester. In 1833, it chartered the Western Railroad to connect Worcester with Albany and the Erie Canal. The system flourished and western grain began flowing to the port of Boston for export to Europe, thereby breaking New York City's virtual monopoly on trade from the Erie Canal system. Much of the construction work was done by Irish Catholic work gangs. They lived in temporary camps but many settled in the new industrial cities along the line, where the gang bosses became leaders in the Democratic Party. [56] Some of their work is still used. For example, the stone Canton Viaduct at Canton, Massachusetts, built in 1835, is still used by Amtrak's high-speed Acela Express along the Boston–Washington, Northeast Corridor. The viaduct required only minor changes to bring it up to late-20th-century standards. [57]

Whaling Edit

Beginning in the late colonial period, Massachusetts leveraged its strong seafaring tradition, advanced shipbuilding industry, and access to the oceans to make the U.S. the pre-eminent whaling nation in the world by the 1830s. [58] Whale oil was in demand chiefly for lamps. By the 1750s whaling in Nantucket had become a highly lucrative deep-sea industry, with voyages extending for years at a time and with vessels traveling as far as South Pacific waters. The British Navy captured most of the whalers during the revolution, but at the same time many whalers refitted as privateers against the British. Whaling recovered after the war as New Bedford became the center. Whalers took greater economic risks to turn major profits: expanding their hunting grounds and securing foreign and domestic workforces for the Pacific. Investment decisions and financing arrangements were set up so that managers of whaling ventures shared their risks by selling some equity claims but retained a substantial portion due to moral hazard considerations. As a result, they had little incentive to consider the correlation between their own returns and those of others in planning their voyages. This stifled diversity in whaling voyages and increased industry-wide risk. After 1860, kerosene replaced whale oil—concurrent with the devastation of the whaling fleet by Confederate commerce raiders—and the entrepreneurs shifted to manufacturing. [59]

Political and social movements Edit

On March 15, 1820, Maine was separated from Massachusetts and entered the Union as the 23rd State as a result of the enactment of the Missouri Compromise.

Horace Mann made the state system of schools the national model. The Commonwealth made its mark in Washington with such political leaders as Daniel Webster and Charles Sumner. Building on the many activist Congregational churches, abolitionism flourished. William Lloyd Garrison was the outstanding spokesperson, though many "cotton Whig" mill owners complained that the agitation was bad for their strong business ties to southern cotton planters.

The Congregationalists remained dominant in rural areas, but, in the cities, a new religious sensibility had replaced their straight-laced Calvinism. By 1826, reported Harriet Beecher Stowe:

All the literary men of Massachusetts were Unitarians. All the trustees and professors of Harvard College were Unitarians. All the élite of wealth and fashion crowded Unitarian churches. The judges on the bench were Unitarian, giving decisions by which the peculiar features of church organization, so carefully ordained by the Pilgrim fathers, had been nullified.

Some of the most important writers and thinkers of this time came from Massachusetts. Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson are well known today for their contributions to American thought. Part of an intellectual movement known as Transcendentalism, they emphasized the importance of the natural world to humanity and were also part of the abolitionist call.

Know Nothing movement Edit

The Know Nothing movement formed a new party in 1854 and captured almost all the seats in the legislature, the state government, and many cities. Historian John Mulkern finds the new party was populist and highly democratic, hostile to wealth, elites, and to expertise, and deeply suspicious of outsiders especially Catholics. The new party's voters were concentrated in the rapidly growing industrial towns, where Yankee workers faced direct competition with new Irish immigrants. Whereas the Whig party was strongest in high income districts, the Know Nothing electorate was strongest in the poor districts. They voted out the traditional upper-class closed political leadership class, especially the lawyers and merchants. In their stead they elected working-class men, farmers, and a large number of teachers and ministers. Replacing the moneyed elite were men who seldom owned $10,000 in property. [60]

In national perspective, the most aggressive and innovative legislation came out of Massachusetts, Both in terms of nativism and in terms of reforms. Historian Stephen Taylor says that in addition to nativist legislation:

the party also distinguished itself by its opposition to slavery, support for an expansion of the rights of women, regulation of industry, and support of measures designed to improve the status of working people. [61]

It passed legislation to regulate railroads, insurance companies, and public utilities. It funded free textbooks for the public schools, and raised the appropriations for local libraries and for the school for the blind. Purification of Massachusetts against divisive social evils was a high priority. The legislature set up the state's first reform school for juvenile delinquents, while trying to block the importation of supposedly subversive government documents and academic books from Europe. It upgraded the legal status of wives, giving them more property rights and more rights in divorce courts. It passed harsh penalties on speakeasies, gambling houses and bordellos. Prohibition legislation imposed severe penalties: serving one glass of beer was punishable by six months in prison. Many juries refused to convict. Many of the reforms were quite expensive State spending rose 45% on top of a 50% hike in annual taxes on cities and towns. The extravagance angered the taxpayers few Know Nothings were reelected so the brief two-year experiment ended. [62]

The highest priority included attacks on the civil rights of Irish Catholic immigrants. State courts lost the power to process applications for citizenship the public schools had to require compulsory daily reading of the Protestant Bible (which the nativists were sure would transform the Catholic children). The governor disbanded the Irish militias, and replaced Catholics holding state jobs with Protestants. It failed to reach the two-thirds vote needed to pass a state constitutional amendment to restrict voting and office holding to men who had resided in Massachusetts for at least 21 years. The legislature then called on Congress to raise the requirement for naturalization from five years to 21 years, but Congress never acted. [63]

The most dramatic move by the Know Nothing legislature was to appoint an investigating committee designed to prove widespread sexual immorality under way in Catholic convents. The press had a field day following the story, especially when it was discovered that the key reformer was using committee funds to pay for a prostitute. The legislature shut down its committee, ejected the reformer, and saw its investigation became a laughing stock. [64] [65] [66]

In the years leading up to the Civil War, Massachusetts was a center of social progressivism, Transcendentalism, and abolitionist activity. Horace Mann made the state system of schools the national model. [67] [68] Two prominent abolitionists from the Commonwealth were William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips. Garrison founded the New England Anti-Slavery Society in 1832, and helped change perceptions on slavery. The movement increased antagonism over the issues of slavery, resulting in anti-abolitionist riots in Massachusetts between 1835 and 1837. [69] The works of abolitionists contributed to the eventual actions of the Commonwealth during the Civil War.

Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson made major contributions to American thought. [70] Members of the Transcendentalism movement, they emphasized the importance of the natural world and emotion to humanity. [70] Although significant opposition to abolitionism existed early on in Massachusetts, resulting in anti-abolitionist riots between 1835 and 1837, [71] opposition to slavery gradually increased in the next few decades. [72] [73] Famed abolitionist John Brown moved to the ideologically progressive town of Springfield in 1846. It was there that Brown first became a militant anti-slavery proponent. In Springfield and in Boston, Brown met the connections that would both influence him, (Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth in Springfield,) and later fund his efforts, (Simon Sanborn and Amos Adams Lawrence in Boston,) in Bleeding Kansas and John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry. In 1850, Brown founded his first militant, anti-slavery organization – The League of the Gileadites – in Springfield, to protect escaped slaves from 1850s Fugitive Slave Act. Massachusetts was a hotbed of abolitionism – particularly the progressive cities of Boston and Springfield – and contributed to subsequent actions of the state during the Civil War. Massachusetts was among the first states to respond to President Lincoln's call for troops. Massachusetts was the first state to recruit, train, and arm a Black regiment with White officers, the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. [74] The Robert Gould Shaw Memorial in Boston Common contains a relief depicting the 54th regiment. [75] Much of the Union's weaponry for the Civil War was produced in Springfield, at the Springfield Armory.

Following the Civil War, thousands of immigrants from Canada and Europe continued to settle in the major cities of Massachusetts, attracted by employment in the state's ever-expanding factories. [76] The state also became a leader in education and innovation through this period, particularly in the Boston area.

Invention of basketball and volleyball Edit

In 1891, and 1895, the sports of basketball and volleyball—both now Olympic sports, popular worldwide—were invented in the Western Massachusetts cities of Springfield and Holyoke, respectively. Both inventors, James Naismith, and William G. Morgan sought to create games for groups at the YMCA, with Naismith seeking a fast-paced game for youths often confined indoors during New England's harsh winters. [77] Morgan's invention of mintonette, soon renamed volleyball at the suggestion of colleague Professor Alfred T. Halsted, was a direct response to the then-new sport basketball, as he sought to create a fast-paced game with similar objectives that could be more easily played by a wider variety of players young and old, athletic and non-athletic. [78] Today, Springfield is home to the international Basketball Hall of Fame. Holyoke is home to the international Volleyball Hall of Fame. [79]

Industrial advance Edit

In the 1890s—largely due to the presence of the Springfield Armory, which employed many skilled, mechanical workers—Greater Springfield became the United States' first major center of automobile and motorcycle innovation. The United States' first gasoline-powered automobile company, the Duryea Motor Wagon Company, was founded in Chicopee in 1893. The first American motorcycle company, the Indian Motorcycle Company, was founded in Springfield in 1901. Knox Automobile produced the world's first motorized fire engines in Springfield in 1906. [80] File:Street railway workers with a thermite crucible on Main Street, Holyoke, 1904.png

Although the basic rail system was in place by 1860, the railways continued to make major improvements in tracks, signals, bridging, and facilities. With steel came heavier trains and more powerful locomotives. In the 1880s the Boston & Albany Railroad invested heavily in its physical facilities, including the construction of over 30 new passenger stations. Famed Boston architect H. H. Richardson did much of the design work. [81]

Passenger transportation was revolutionized by the electric trolley. Thomas Davenport, the first American to construct a DC electric motor, first demonstrated the feasibility of the electric railway in Springfield with a small circular railway in late 1835, which was subsequently exhibited in Boston that winter. [82] Decades later in 1889, Springfield's first line was constructed and by 1905 the city had more track than New York City. The lines provided rapid, cheap transportation for farm produce and workers, created land booms in suburbia, and permitted Sunday outings in the country. They were highly profitable and the base of numerous fortunes. [83] The numerous trolley operators around the Commonwealth during this time would drive innovation in best practices, and while it would not be until the 1930s that American steam railroads would adopt thermite welding, [84] it was on August 8, 1904 that the Holyoke Street Railway became the first rail line in the United States to lay track with the process. [85] One of its engineers at the time, a recent graduate from Worcester Polytechnic named George Pellissier, introduced the process developed by German chemist Hans Goldschmidt to the railway company soon after the inventor's Goldschmidt Thermit Company opened its first American office in New York City. During his tenure with both the railway and Goldscmidt's company, Pellissier would contribute to thermite manufacturing plant design, as well as improvements toward continuously welded rail. [86] While other track-laying techniques exist the process is now considered a standard operating procedure by railmen across the world. [84]

On the subject of securities laws in the early 1930's in response to the Great Depression, Boston figured prominently. Governor of Massachusetts Frank G. Allen appointed John C. Hull the first Securities Director of Massachusetts in January 1930. [87] [88] [89] On May 4 1932, Hull introduced a bill to the committee on Banks and Banking in the Massachusetts House of Representatives for revision and simplification of the law relative to the sale of securities (Chapter 110A). [90] The act was approved June 6. 1932. [91] Three Harvard professors, Felix Frankfurter, Benjamin V. Cohen and James M. Landis drafted both Securities Act of 1933 and Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The 1st Chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. was from Boston. [92] . Kennedy Sr. had this to say before the Boston Chamber of Commerce on November 15, 1934: "Necessary, legitimate, useful, profitable enterprise will be encouraged. Only the senseless, vicious, and fraudulent activities will be curtailed, and these must and will be eradicated. The initials S-E-C, we hope, will come to stand for Securities Ex-Crookedness. Confidence is an outgrowth of character. We believe that character exists strongly in the financial world, so we do not have to compel virtue we seek to prevent vice.” [93] On June 6, 1934, FDR signed the Securities Exchange Act into law with Pecora. At one point Roosevelt asked Pecora, "Ferd, now that I have signed this bill and it has become law, what kind of law will it be?" "It will be a good or bad bill, Mr. President," replied Pecora, "depending upon the men who administer it." (Ritchie, 59) [94]

Massachusetts entered the 20th century with a strong industrial economy. Despite a lack of agricultural progress, the economy prospered between 1900 and 1919. Factories throughout the Commonwealth produced goods varying from paper to metals. Boston, in the year 1900, was still the second most important port in the United States, as well as the most valuable U.S. port in terms of its fish market. By 1908, however, the value of the port dropped considerably due to competition. Population growth during this period, which was aided by immigration from abroad, helped in urbanization and forced a change in the ethnic make-up of the Commonwealth.

The largely industrial economy of Massachusetts began to falter, however, due to the dependence of factory communities upon the production of one or two goods. External low-wage competition, coupled with other factors of the Great Depression in later years, led to the collapse of the state's two main industries: shoes and textiles. Between 1921 and 1949 the failure of those industries resulted in rampant unemployment and the urban decay of once-prosperous industrial centers which would persist for several decades.

The industrial economy began a decline in the early 20th century with the exodus of many manufacturing companies. 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 mechanized transportation. [95] This decline would continue into the latter half of the century between 1950 and 1979, the number of Bay Staters involved in textile manufacturing declined from 264,000 to 63,000. [96] The Springfield Armory, the United States' Military's munitions producer since 1777, was controversially shut down by the Pentagon in 1968. This 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. [97] In Eastern Massachusetts, following World War II, the economy was transformed from one based on heavy industry into a service and high-tech based economy. [98] 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. [99]

On Thursday, October 1, 1903, the city of Boston made history by hosting the inaugural World Series at the Huntington Avenue Grounds. The Boston Red Sox won the best-of-nine series and launched into a baseball dynasty in the following years by capturing five championships in fifteen years behind Hall of Famer Babe Ruth.

Even before the Great Depression struck the United States, Massachusetts was experiencing economic problems. The crash of the Commonwealth's major industries led to declining population in factory towns. The Boston metropolitan area became one of the slowest-growing areas in the United States between 1920 and 1950. Internal migration within the Commonwealth, however, was altered by the Great Depression. In the wake of economic woes, people moved to the metropolitan area of Boston looking for jobs, only to find high unemployment and dismal conditions. In the depressed situation that predominated in Boston during this era, racial tension sometimes manifested itself in gang warfare, notably with clashes between the Irish and Italians.

Massachusetts also endured class conflict during this period. In the 1912 general strike in Lawrence, almost all of the town's mills were forced to shut down as a result of strife over wages that sustained only poverty. The Commonwealth was confronted with issues of worker conditions and wages. For example, when the legislature decreed that women and children could work only 50 hours per week, employers cut wages proportionally. Eventually, the demands of the Lawrence strikers were heeded, and a pay increase was made.

The economic and social turmoil in Massachusetts marked the beginning of a change in the Commonwealth's way of functioning. Politics helped to encourage stability among social groups by elevating members of various ranks in society, as well as ethnic groups, to influential posts. The two major industries of Massachusetts, shoes and textiles, had declined in a way that even the post-World War II economic boom could not reverse. Thus, the Commonwealth's economy was ripe for change as the post-war years dawned.

World War II precipitated great changes in the economy of Massachusetts, which led to changes in society. The aftermath of WWII created a global economy that was focused upon the interests of the United States, both militarily and in relation to business. The domestic economy in the United States was altered by government procurement policies focused on defense. In the years following WWII, Massachusetts was transformed from a factory-based economy to one based on services and technology. During WWII, the U.S. government had built facilities that they leased, and in the post-war years sold, to defense contractors. Such facilities contributed to an economy focused on creating specialized defense goods. That form of economy prospered as a result of the Cold War, the Vietnam War, and the Korean War.

In the ensuing years, government contracts, private investment, and research facilities helped to create a modern industry, which reduced unemployment and increased per capita income. All of these economic changes encouraged suburbanization and the formation of a new generation of well-assimilated and educated middle-class workers. At the same time, suburbanization and urban decay highlighted differences between various social groups, leading to a renewal of racial tension. Boston, a paragon of the problems in Massachusetts cities, experienced numerous challenges that led to racial problems. The problems facing urban centers included declining population, middle-class flight, departure of industry, high unemployment, rising taxes, low property values, and competition among ethnic groups.

The Kennedy family was prominent in Massachusetts politics in the 20th century. Children of businessman and ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. included:

    , a United States senator from Massachusetts from 1953 to 1960 and president of the United States from 1961 until his assassination in 1963 , United States Attorney General from 1961 to 1964, United States senator from New York from 1965 to 1968, and presidential candidate in 1968 until his assassination , a United States senator from Massachusetts from 1962 until his death in 2009 and presidential candidate in 1980[100] , a co-founder of the Special Olympics. [101]

Over the past 20–30 years, Massachusetts has cemented its place in the country as a center of education (especially higher education) and high-tech industry, including the biotechnology and information technology sectors. With better-than-average schools overall and many elite universities, the area was well placed to take advantage of the technology-based economy of the 1990s. The rebound from the decay of manufacturing into the high-technology sector is often referred to as the Massachusetts Miracle.

The Commonwealth had several notable citizens in federal government in the 1980s, including presidential hopeful Senator Ted Kennedy and House Speaker Tip O'Neill. This legislative influence allowed the Commonwealth to receive federal highway funding for the $14.6 billion Boston Central Artery/Tunnel Project. Known colloquially as "the Big Dig", it was, at the time, the most expensive federal highway project ever approved. Designed to relieve some of the traffic problems of the poorly planned city, it was approved in 1987, and effectively completed in 2005. The project was controversial due to massive budget overruns, repeated construction delays, water leaks in the new tunnels in 2004, and a ceiling collapse in 2006 that killed a Bostonian.

Several Massachusetts politicians have run for the office of President of the United States in this period, won the primary elections, and gone on to contest the national elections. These include:

In 2002, the Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandal involving local priests became public. The Archdiocese of Boston was found to have knowingly moved priests who sexually molested children from parish to parish and to have covered up abuse. The revelations caused the resignation of the archbishop, Cardinal Bernard Law, and resulted in an $85 million settlement with the victims. With the large Irish and Italian Catholic populations in Boston, this was a big concern. The diocese, under financial pressure, closed many of its churches. In some churches, parishioners camped out in the churches to protest and block closure.

On November 18, 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) decided that the Commonwealth could not deny marriage rights to gay couples under the state constitution. On February 4, 2004, the SJC followed that ruling with a statement saying that allegedly separate but equal civil unions, implemented as of late in Vermont, would not pass constitutional muster and that only full gay marriage rights met constitutional guarantees. On May 17, 2004, the ruling took effect and thousands of gay and lesbian couples across the Commonwealth entered into marriage. Opponents of gay marriage subsequently pushed for an amendment to the state constitution that would allow the state to deny marriage rights to gay couples. It was necessary for the amendment to be approved by at least 1/4 of the members present in two consecutive legislative sessions of the Massachusetts legislature, and to receive majority support in a popular referendum. It passed the first legislative session, but was defeated in the second session, receiving less than 1/4 of the votes of the legislators present. As public opinion polls currently [ when? ] indicate majority support for gay marriage among the people of the Commonwealth, it is likely that the issue is settled in Massachusetts. [ citation needed ]

Increased white-collar jobs have driven suburban sprawl, but the consequent effects of sprawl have been lessened by regulations on land use and zoning, as well as an emphasis on "smart growth". In recent years, the Commonwealth has lost population as high housing costs have driven many away from Massachusetts. The Boston area is the third most expensive housing market in the country. Over the last several years there has been a net outflow of about 19,000 people from the Commonwealth. [ citation needed ] [ needs update ]

In 2006, the Massachusetts legislature enacted the first plan in the United States to provide all Commonwealth citizens with universal health insurance coverage, using a variety of private insurance providers. Insurance coverage for low-income individuals is paid for with tax revenues, and higher income people who don't have health insurance are required to purchase it. (The health insurance market is publicly regulated, so, at least in Massachusetts, no one can be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions or be forced to pay exorbitant rates.) The implementation of Commonwealth Care, the new universal coverage law, is proceeding, as of 2007.

Two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, killing three spectators and injuring 264. The 2 brothers Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev set the bombs because they were motivated by extremist Islamic beliefs and learned to build explosive devices from an online magazine of an al-Qaeda affiliate. [103]

On November 8, 2016, Massachusetts voted for The Massachusetts Marijuana Legalization Initiative, also known as Question 4. [104] It was included on the United States presidential election, 2016 ballot in Massachusetts as an indirect initiated state statute. [105]

The Big Dig Edit

In 1987, the state received federal funding for the Central Artery/Tunnel Project. Known as "the Big Dig", it was at the time the biggest federal highway project ever approved. [106] The project included making the Central Artery a tunnel under downtown Boston, in addition to the re-routing of several other major highways. [107] 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 has nonetheless changed the face of Downtown Boston. [106] It has connected areas once divided by elevated highway (much of the raised old Central Artery was replaced with the Rose Kennedy Greenway), and improved traffic conditions along a number of routes. [106] [107]

The history of the boundaries of Massachusetts is somewhat complex and covers several centuries. Land grants made to various groups of early colonists, mergers and secessions, and settlements of various boundary disputes all had a major influence on the modern definition of the Commonwealth. Disputes arose due to both overlapping grants, inaccurate surveys (creating a difference between where the border "should" be and where markers are placed on the ground). Having loyal settlers actually on the ground also partially determined which portions of their vast claims early groups held on too.

Founding grants Edit

In 1607, the Plymouth Company was granted a coastal charter for all coastal territory up to a certain distance from the eastern shoreline of North America, from 38°N to 45°N. The northern boundary was thus slightly farther north than the current Maine–New Brunswick border, and the southern border intentionally overlapped with the Virginia Company of London ("London Company") from the 38th parallel (near the current Maryland–Virginia border) to the 41st (near the current Connecticut–New York border in Long Island Sound). Neither colony was allowed to settle within 100 miles of the other. The Plymouth Company's patent fell into disuse after the failure of the Popham Colony in what is now Maine. Meanwhile, the Plymouth Colony had settled outside the territory of the London company due to navigational difficulties. The Plymouth Company was reorganized as the Plymouth Council for New England, and given a new royal sea-to-sea charter for all North American territory from 40° North (just east between present-day Philadelphia and Trenton, New Jersey) and 48° N (thus including all of modern-day New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island). The Plymouth Colony was granted land patents between 1621 and 1630 from the Council to legitimize its settlement, though it maintained political independence under the Mayflower Compact.

The Plymouth Council for New England made sub grants to various entities before it was surrendered to the crown in 1635 and ceased to operate as a corporate entity.

The Sheffield Patent granted the use of Cape Ann to members of the Plymouth Colony and the Dorchester Company. The fishing colony there failed, but led to the foundation of Salem, Massachusetts. The bankrupt Dorchester Company's lands were reissued as part of a larger grant to the Massachusetts Bay Company. Massachusetts Bay obtained in 1628/29 a sea-to-sea patent for all lands and islands from three miles north of the Merrimack River (roughly the current Massachusetts–New Hampshire border), to three miles south of the extents of the Charles River and Massachusetts Bay. The Charles River starts in Hopkinton (in the middle of the territory) but flows in a circuitous path southeast to near present-day Bellingham on the modern Rhode Island border. Land belonging to any other colonies as of November 3, 1629, was excluded from the grant.

The boundary between the Massachusetts Bay Colony and Plymouth Colony was settled in 1639, and today forms most of the border between Norfolk County to the north and Plymouth and Bristol counties to the south.

In 1622, Sir Ferdinando Gorges obtained a patent for the Province of Maine, lands north of the Massachusetts Bay border near the Merrimack River, up to the Kennebec River. This was soon split at the Piscataqua River, with the southern portion eventually becoming the Province of New Hampshire. The northern portion came under Massachusetts Bay control in the 1640s. In 1664, James, Duke of York, obtained a charter for land from the Kennebec to the St. Croix River, joining it to his Province of New York. New Hampshire was joined with Massachusetts Bay from 1641 to 1679 and during the dominion period (1686–1692).

The 1629 charter of Massachusetts Bay was canceled by a judgment of the high court of chancery of England, June 18, 1684. [108]

The Province of Massachusetts Bay was formed in 1691–92 by the British monarchs William III and Mary II. It included the lands of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the Plymouth Colony, the Province of Maine (including the eastern territories that had been part of Province of New York), and Nova Scotia (which included present-day New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island). Dukes County, Massachusetts (Martha's Vineyard and the Elizabeth Islands), and Nantucket were also transferred from the Province of New York. In 1696, Nova Scotia was restored to France (who called it Acadia), but the northern and eastern boundaries of Maine would not be fixed until the 1840s.

New Hampshire boundary Edit

The Province of New Hampshire received a separate royal charter in 1679, but the language defining the southern border with Massachusetts Bay referenced the Merrimack River in an ambiguous way:

all that parte of New England in America lying and extending from the greate River commonly called Monomack als Merrimack on the northpart and from three Miles Northward of the said River to the Atlantick or Western Sea or Ocean on the South part [Pacific Ocean] [108]

The result was disagreement over the northern boundary of Massachusetts that was often ignored by its governors because in those years they governed both Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Massachusetts claimed land west of the Merrimack as calculated from the headwaters of the river (which early colonial officials claimed to be the outlet of Lake Winnipesaukee in modern-day Franklin, New Hampshire), but New Hampshire claimed that its southern boundary was the line of latitude three miles north of the river's mouth. The parties appealed to King George II of Great Britain, who ordered the dispute be settled by agreement between the parties. Commissioners from both colonies met at Hampton, New Hampshire in 1737, but were unable to reach agreement.

In 1740, the King settled the dispute in a surprising manner, by declaring "that the northern boundary of Massachusetts be a similar curve line pursuing the course of the Merrimack River at three miles distance on the north side thereof, beginning at the Atlantic Ocean and ending at a point due north of a place called Pawtucket Falls [now Lowell, Massachusetts], and by a straight line drawn from thence west till it meets his Majesty's other governments." This ruling favored New Hampshire and actually gave it a strip of land 50 miles beyond its claim. Massachusetts declined to do a physical survey, so New Hampshire laid markers on its own. [108]

Rhode Island eastern border Edit

In 1641, the Plymouth Colony (at the time separate from the Massachusetts Bay Colony) purchased from the Indians a large tract of land which today includes the northern half of East Providence (from Watchemoket to Rumford), Rehoboth, Massachusetts, Seekonk, Massachusetts, and part of Pawtucket, Rhode Island. In 1645, John Brown of Plymouth bought a considerably smaller piece of land from the Indians, which today comprises the southern part of East Providence (Riverside), Barrington, Rhode Island, and a small part of Swansea, Massachusetts. Finally, in 1661, Plymouth completed the "North Purchase", from which Cumberland, Rhode Island, Attleboro, Massachusetts, and North Attleborough, Massachusetts, were later to be formed. The whole territory, which also included parts of modern Somerset, Massachusetts, and Warren, Bristol, and Woonsocket in Rhode Island, was at the time called "Rehoboth". The center of "Old Rehoboth" was within the borders of modern East Providence, Rhode Island.

By the 1650s, Massachusetts Bay, the Colony of Rhode Island (not yet unified with Providence) the Connecticut Colony, and two different land companies all claimed what is now Washington County, Rhode Island, what was referred to as Narragansett Country. Massachusetts Bay had conquered Block Island in 1636 in retaliation for the murder of a trader at the start of the Pequot War, and Massachusetts families settled there in 1661. The Plymouth Colony's land grant specified its western boundary as the Narragansett River [109] it is unclear whether this referred to the Pawcatuck River (on the current Connecticut–Rhode Island Border) or Narragansett Bay (much farther east, near the modern-day Rhode Island–Massachusetts border).

In 1663, Rhode Island obtained a patent extending its territory in certain places three miles east of Narragansett Bay. In 1664, a royal commission appointed by King Charles II of England denied the claims of Massachusetts and Plymouth to land west of Narragansett Bay, granting jurisdiction to the newly unified Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (pending resolution of the claims of Connecticut). However, the claims of Plymouth to all lands east of Narragansett Bay were upheld, and so the border was set in practice. [109]

The 1691 charter unified Massachusetts Bay with Plymouth Colony (including Rehoboth) and said that the combined territory would extend as far south as "Our Collonyes of Rhode Island Connecticut and the Narragansett Countrey" [108] (Narragansett Country).

In 1693, the monarchs William III and Mary II issued a patent extending Rhode Island's territory to three miles "east and northeast" of Narragansett Bay, conflicting with the claims of Plymouth Colony. [110] This enlarged the area of conflict between Rhode Island and the Province of Massachusetts.

The issue was not addressed until 1740, when Rhode Island appealed to King George II of Great Britain. Royal commissioners from both colonies were appointed in 1741, and decided in favor of Rhode Island. The King affirmed the settlement in 1746 after appeals from both colonies. The royally approved three-mile boundary moved several towns on the eastern shore of Narragansett Bay (east of the mouth of the Blackstone River) from Massachusetts to Rhode Island.

This included what is now Bristol County, Rhode Island (the towns of Barrington, Bristol, and Warren), along with Tiverton, Little Compton, and Cumberland, Rhode Island (which was carved out of Attleborough, Massachusetts). East Freetown, which was left on the Massachusetts side of the border, was officially purchased by Freetown, Massachusetts, from Tiverton in 1747.

Commissioners from Rhode Island had the new boundary surveyed in 1746 (without consulting Massachusetts), based on six reference points, from each of which a distance was measured 3 miles inland. Massachusetts accepted this border until 1791, when its own surveyors found that the Rhode Island surveyors had "encroached" on Massachusetts territory by a few hundred feet in certain places. (Rhode Island disagreed.) Of particular concern was the boundary near Fall River, Massachusetts, which would later fall in the middle of a thickly settled area of high taxable value. [109]

In 1812, after a court case involving the Massachusetts border, the western half of Old Rehoboth was set off as a separate township called Seekonk, Massachusetts, leaving the eastern part as Rehoboth, Massachusetts. Old Rehoboth's town center now became the heart of Old Seekonk.

In 1832, Rhode Island filed a case with the U.S. Supreme Court, but after six years of deliberations, it was dismissed. The court decided it did not have the jurisdiction to rule on the matter. [111]

In 1844, and 1845, commissioners were once again authorized to survey and mark the boundary from Wrentham to the Atlantic Ocean, to address the inaccuracies of the 1746 survey. A report was issued in 1848, but the Massachusetts legislature refused to agree to the proposed solution after petitions from residents of Fall River. [109] [112]

Both states filed bills of equity with the Supreme Court in 1852, and after more surveying and negotiation, a decree was issued on December 16, 1861. On March 1, 1862, when the Supreme Court ruling became effective, [108] the western part of Old Seekonk (all of which was on the eastern shore of the Blackstone River) was ceded by Massachusetts and incorporated as East Providence, Rhode Island. Part of North Providence, Rhode Island, was also combined with the former Pawtucket, Massachusetts and a sliver of Seekonk to form the modern Pawtucket, Rhode Island. A small amount of land was also added to Westport, Massachusetts. [112] The southern boundary of Fall River, Massachusetts, was moved from Columbia Street to State Avenue, expanding its territory. The Supreme Court made these adjustments not in conformance with King George's instructions, but to unify the thickly settled areas of Pawtucket and Fall River under the jurisdiction of a single state. [109]

The 1861–2 boundary was slightly redefined in 1897, using stone markers instead of high-water levels. The physical survey was performed in 1898, and ratified by both states.

Rhode Island northern border Edit

In 1710–11, commissioners from the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations and the Province of Massachusetts Bay agreed that the stake planted in 1642 by Nathaniel Woodward and Solomon Saffrey at Burnt Swamp Corner on the plains of Wrentham, Massachusetts, said to be at 41°55′N and thought to be three miles south of the southernmost part of the Charles River, would represent the starting point for the border.

The line extending west from the stake was surveyed in 1719, but inaccurately. [108]

In 1748, Rhode Island appointed a commission to survey the line from the stake to the Connecticut border, but Massachusetts failed to send a delegation. The surveyors could not find the 1642 stake, and so marked a line from three miles south, by their reckoning, of "Poppatolish Pond" (presumably Populatic Pond, near Norfolk Airpark in Norfolk, Massachusetts). It was discovered that the Woodward and Saffrey stake was considerably farther south than three miles from the Charles River. [108]

Rhode Island claimed that its commissioners had made a mistake in basing the border on the 1642 stake, and in 1832 filed a case with the Supreme Court of the United States. In 1846, the Court ruled in favor of Massachusetts. The same surveyors that marked the eastern boundary the previous year then marked the northern boundary, filing their report in 1848. Rhode Island accepted the markings as the legal boundary on the condition that Massachusetts do the same, but the Commonwealth failed to do so until 1865. But by that time, Rhode Island claimed that the 1861 Supreme Court case had changed matters so much as to render the "line of 1848" unacceptable.

Connecticut border Edit

The town of Springfield was settled in 1636 by William Pynchon (as Agawam Plantation), encompassing the modern towns of Westfield, Southwick, West Springfield, Agawam, Chicopee, Holyoke, Wilbraham, Ludlow and Longmeadow in Massachusetts, and Enfield, Suffield, Somers, and East Windsor in Connecticut. It was connected to the Atlantic and major avenues of trade by the Connecticut River, which ran past Hartford and through the territory of the Connecticut Colony. Initially, Springfield's founders attended the Connecticut Colony meetings held in Hartford however, relations quickly soured between the strong-minded leaders of each settlement, the iconoclastic William Pynchon of Springfield and Puritan Reverend Thomas Hooker of Hartford. Pynchon proved to be a very savvy businessman, and his settlement quickly eclipsed the Connecticut towns in trade with the Natives. In 1640, during a grain shortage, Hooker and other Connecticut leaders gave Pynchon permission to buy grain for them however, because the Indians were refusing to sell at reasonable prices, Pynchon refused the Indians' offers. Pynchon's perceived greed infuriated Hartford however, Pynchon explained that he was merely trying to keep market prices steady so that colonists need not pay exorbitant amounts in the future. Infuriated, Hartford sent famed Indian-killer Captain John Mason up to Pynchon's settlement "with money in one hand and a sword in the other." Mason threatened the Natives by Springfield with war if they did not sell grain at the prices he demanded. Pynchon was disgusted by this behavior, as he had enjoyed a congenial relationship with the Natives – and Mason's threats made him look bad. Mason believed that Natives were untrustworthy, and thus exchanged some "hard words" with Pynchon before leaving Springfield. After Mason left, settlers of Agawam Plantation rallied in support of Pynchon. In 1640, they voted to annex their settlement – with arguably the best position on the Connecticut River, near Enfield Falls, surrounded by fertile farmland and friendly Natives – to the faraway government in Boston, rather than the nearby government in Hartford. [113] (Springfield had been settled by permission of the Massachusetts General Court, so Massachusetts assumed it had jurisdiction over Pynchon's settlement anyway however, they renamed it Springfield in Pynchon's honor).

In 1641, Connecticut founded a trading post at Woronoke, which was in what was strongly considered to be Massachusetts territory (now Westfield). [114] Massachusetts complained, and Connecticut demanded that Springfield pay taxes to support the upkeep of the fort at the mouth of the river, in the Saybrook Colony. Springfield's magistrate, William Pynchon, would have been amenable to the tax if Springfield could have representation at the fort at Saybrook however, Connecticut refused Springfield's request for representation. Pynchon appealed to Boston, which responded to Connecticut by threatening to charge Connecticut traders for the use of the port of Boston on which they heavily depended. [113]

To assert its sovereignty on the northern Connecticut River, the Massachusetts Bay Colony sent Nathaniel Woodward and Solomon Saffrey to survey and mark the boundary. They accidentally marked the boundary with Rhode Island significantly farther than the royally decreed three miles south of the southernmost part of the Charles River. Instead of traversing the territory of Massachusetts by land, they sailed around and up the Connecticut River, calculating the same latitude at which they had misplaced the stake on the Rhode Island border. This compounded the error even further, resulting in a four to seven mile discrepancy between where the border should have been and where it was marked, and awarding more territory to Massachusetts Bay than it had been granted by its charter. Although it was suspicious of this survey, Connecticut would not even receive a charter until 1662, and so the dispute would lie dormant for several decades. [114] [ dead link ]

The towns of Woodstock, Suffield, Enfield, and Somers were incorporated by Massachusetts, and mainly settled by migrants from the Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth Colonies. In 1686, Suffield and Enfield (incorporated in Massachusetts) were in a dispute over town territory with Windsor and Simsbury (incorporated in Connecticut, and which then included Granby). Massachusetts did not agree to a re-survey, so Connecticut hired John Butler and William Whitney to do the job. They found the southernmost part of the Charles River, and then traveled by land westward. Their 1695 report found that the 1642 line had been drawn too far south.

Consternation ensued. Abortive pleas to England were made in 1702. In 1713, a joint commission awarded control of Springfield-area towns to Massachusetts (without consulting the residents of those towns), compensating Connecticut with an equal amount of land further north. But the inhabitants of the Connecticut River border towns petitioned to be part of Connecticut in 1724, perhaps due to high taxes in Massachusetts or the greater civil liberties granted in the Connecticut charter. [115]

In 1747, Woodstock petitioned the General Assembly of Connecticut to be admitted to the colony because the transfer of lands from Massachusetts in 1713 had not been authorized by The Crown. Suffield and Enfield soon followed, and the legislature accepted them in May 1749, and declared the 1713 compromise null and void. Massachusetts continued to assert sovereignty. [108] [115]

In 1770, Southwick, Massachusetts, was granted independence from Westfield, Massachusetts. In May 1774, residents in southern Southwick also petitioned Connecticut for entry and secession from northern Southwick, on the grounds they were south of the royally approved border of the Massachusetts Bay Colony (three miles south of the Charles River). As a compromise, the area west of Congamond Lake remained in Massachusetts, and the area of Massachusetts east of the lake joined Suffield and became part of Connecticut. [116] [115]

In 1791, and 1793, commissioners were sent from both states to survey the boundary line yet again, but were unable to agree until a compromise was reached in 1803–04. Massachusetts accepted the nullification of the 1713 compromise and the loss of the border towns, but regained the portion of southern Southwick west of the lake. This resulted in the modern boundary with Connecticut, a relatively straight east-west line except for the "Southwick jog", a small, mostly rectangular piece of Massachusetts surrounded by Connecticut on three sides. [115]

New York border Edit

Massachusetts claimed all territory to the Pacific Ocean, based on its 1629 charter, but the Province of New York claimed the west bank of the Connecticut River (passing through Springfield, Massachusetts) as its eastern boundary, based on 1664 and 1674 grants to the Duke of York. The 1705 Westenhook Patent from the governor of New York allocated land west of the Housatonic River to specific individuals, resulting in ownership conflicts. [117]

In 1773, the western boundary of Massachusetts was settled with New York in its present location, and surveyed in 1787, following the line of magnetic north at the time. The starting point was a 1731 marker at the Connecticut–New York border, 20 miles inland from the Hudson River. [108]

Massachusetts relinquished sovereignty over its western lands (east of the Great Lakes) to New York in the Treaty of Hartford in 1786, but retained the economic right to buy the Boston Ten Townships from Native Americans before any other party. These purchase rights were sold to private individuals in 1788. The Commonwealth also ceded its claim to far western lands (Michigan and all other land to the Pacific Ocean) to Congress in 1785.

In 1853, a small triangle of land in the southwest corner of the Commonwealth, known as Boston Corners, was ceded from Mount Washington, Massachusetts, to Ancram, New York. The mountainous terrain made it difficult for Massachusetts authorities to enforce the law there, making the neighborhood a haven for outlaws and prize-fighters. Residents petitioned for the transfer to allow New York authorities to clean up the hamlet.

Maine Edit

From 1658 to 1820 Maine was an integral part of Massachusetts. In 1820, Maine was separated from Massachusetts (with its consent) and admitted into the Union as an independent state, as part of the Missouri Compromise. (See the History of Maine for information about its boundaries, including disputes with New Hampshire and Canadian provinces.)

What Began in 1619

The human cargo that arrived in Virginia in 1619 had come from the port city of Luanda, now the capital of present-day Angola. Back then, it was a Portuguese colony, and most of the enslaved are believed to have been captured during an ongoing war between Portugal and the kingdom of Ndongo, as John Thornton wrote in the The William and Mary Quarterly in 1998. Between 1618 and 1620, about 50,000 enslaved people &mdash many of whom had been prisoners of war &mdash were exported from Angola. An estimated 350 of these captives were loaded onto a Portuguese slave ship called the São João Bautista (more commonly known as the San Juan Batista).

That ship was en route to the Spanish colony of Veracruz when two English privateer ships, the White Lion and the Treasurer, intercepted it and seized some of the Angolans on board. According to James Horn, President and Chief Officer of Jamestown Rediscovery, both ships were owned by a powerful English nobleman, the Earl of Warwick Robert Rich. Rich was anti-Spanish and anti-Catholic, and profited from thwarting Spanish shipping in the Caribbean. The White Lion &mdash which flew under the flag of a Dutch port known for its pirates &mdash came to Virginia first in late August 1619, followed four days later by the Treasurer.

The most-cited account of those events in 1619 is found in that letter to the Virginia Company of London, which had run the Jamestown settlement since its establishment in 1607, from John Rolfe, one of the early English settlers there (and most famously Pocahontas’ husband).

Historians do not know much about the men and women who were sold to Yeardley and Piersey, or what happened to them, though some of their names have been revealed. Anthony and Isabella (sometimes spelled “Isabela”) stayed in present-day Hampton, Va., in an area then known as Elizabeth Cittie. They worked for William Tucker, a Virginia Company of London stockholder, and had a son also named William Tucker. Another woman who came off the Treasurer is identified as Angelo, and a 1625 census places her in William Pierce’s house in an area outside the James Fort city called New Towne.


Six years before ratification of the United States Constitution in 1789, and 20 years before Marbury v. Madison firmly established the principle of judicial review on a national level in 1803, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recognized the supremacy of the Massachusetts Constitution. Conceived and ratified by a unique and democratic process, the Constitution "justified and indeed compelled" judges to act so as to enforce its provisions over laws and customs that otherwise conflicted with it.

President George Washington appointed Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice William Cushing to be one of the first justices on the United States Supreme Court in 1790. Justice Cushing remained on that Court until 1810, and participated in deciding the case of Marbury v. Madison.

First Slaves Arrive in Massachusetts - History

Episode 1: "The Downward Spiral"

Morgan Freeman, Narrator: They were from Africa and Europe. Some were enslaved. Some were indentured servants. All of them were poor and exploited. Their status as workers was confusing and complex. Their lives were controlled by the Dutch West India Company. Day after day, they struggled to survive the harsh world of Dutch New Amsterdam in the 1620s. Evening after evening they gathered in taverns.

Jim Horton: Taverns were places where you gathered to talk about your problems. And slaves would complain about their masters and indentured servants would complain about their masters and you had a lot of interracial bonding in these taverns.

Leslie Harris: You also have people who indenture themselves. They promise their labor to a wealthy person for seven years in order to pay off the price of coming to the New World.

Morgan Freeman, Narrator: The Dutch West India Company had established a fur trading post in 1624 on a hilly island called Manahattes. The area would become New York City. Less than 200 people lived in the settlement. Most were men from Northern Europe who worked for the Company. To make larger profits the Dutch West India Company wanted free labor.

Morgan Freeman, Narrator: Free Africans had come to the new world with European explorers in the 1530's. English settlers in Jamestown, Virginia purchased twenty Africans from Dutch traders in 1619. Seven years later the first enslaved Africans arrived in Dutch New Amsterdam. Their bondage began approximately two hundred years of slavery in what would become America's Northern states.

Leslie Harris: The first 11 enslaved people, all male, who came to New Amsterdam, were brought by the Dutch West Indian Company. They were owned by the company, not by individuals. So they're company slaves. And they're bought by the company for the purpose of building the colony.

Graham Russell Hodges: It was quite common for the Dutch and for the English to raid the wealthier Spanish and the Portuguese shipping to get people and to get property. So these people are really prisoners of war.

Ira Berlin: These people come out of a larger Atlantic world. In the 14th and 15th century as Africa and Europe and the Americas meet for the first time. We call them Atlantic Creoles.

Morgan Freeman, Narrator: Atlantic Creoles had cultural roots in both Africa and Europe. Some were the offspring of European men and African women. Some traveled the seas with Europeans. Some may have been literate. Many spoke multiple languages.

Leslie Harris: The names of the first 11 indicate some of that mixture. The name Simon Congo or Anthony Portuguese or John D'angola -- these names are European names. Simon, Anthony, John -- they're Christian names. And then the last name's Portuguese indicating a connection with Portugal perhaps with a Portuguese explorer or Congo indicating this is a Christian African who came from the Congo.

Morgan Freeman, Narrator: The enslaved did not know if or when freedom would come. In the settlements of Virginia, Massachusetts and New Amsterdam slavery was undefined. There were no laws, no rules, no regulations.

Jim Horton: It was a difficult, harsh life. They are expected to work regardless of the weather, regardless of the temperature because their work is what was valuable not their person.

Morgan Freeman, Narrator: Work began at sunrise. The company forced the first eleven to clear land, construct roads and unload ships. They were both manual and skilled workers. Their labor helped build the Dutch New Amsterdam economy.

Leslie Harris: The first 11 slaves were there really to provide the infrastructure. So they were really the backbone of this early colony and really were integral to the survival of Europeans.

Graham Russell Hodges: Because the Dutch did fear racial mixture, they were not interested in marriages between Creoles and Dutch women or Belgian women. Therefore by the late 1620s they brought in Creole or African women into the colony.

Jennifer Morgan: The women are ostensibly brought -- as the company says -- for the comfort of our Negro men. They will need to perform at least two jobs -- which is to be sexual partners for the men but to be hard workers as well. The men are going to be very important then in helping these women navigate since the men have been there for slightly longer than the women and understand the terrain.

Leslie Harris: Slaves in New Amsterdam during this time have rights that we think of as unusual for enslaved people. They have the right to earn wages. They have the right to keep those wages. Europeans are dependent on enslaved people and so they need to in a sense appease them.

Morgan Freeman, Narrator: Because slavery had no legal structure, the Atlantic Creoles were able to negotiate for greater autonomy. In 1635, several of them petitioned the Dutch West India Company for wages they believed the company owed them. Anthony Portuguese sued a white merchant in 1638. A year later Pedro Negretto and Manuel D. Rues successfully sued Europeans for wages due. Court records indicate that Atlantic Creoles made the system work for them when they could.

Leslie Harris: In some African slavery there is a greater sense of the rights of the enslaved people. There is a greater sense of obligation on the part of the community. And I think that these enslaved people bring that idea of slavery with them.

Morgan Freeman, Narrator: In 1641, Anthony Van Angola, one of the first eleven, married Lucie D'Angola. It was the first recorded marriage between black people in Dutch New Amsterdam.

Jennifer Morgan: The enslaved understand legitimating a marriage is a way to claim ground. They are sophisticated interpreters of the landscape.

Leslie Harris: In Europeans' religious beliefs you were not supposed to enslave another Christian and African people knew this and attempted to convert to Christianity. So, Christianity was this space that Africans tried to build onto a space of negotiations for greater freedom. Now in reality many enslaved people were Christian and the fact that they were baptized and were practicing Christians meant nothing in terms of their status as a free people.

Graham Russell Hodges: The Dutch West India company has a very problematic relationship with the area Native Americans. By 1639 relations had deteriorated into war. At that point a number of the Creoles are put into the military force against the Indians.

Leslie Harris: There is a fear among Europeans during this time that African Americans may join with Native Americans. And the first eleven in fact use this fear to negotiate.

Graham Russell Hodges: They had been part of the reform church. They had served in the military. They had built the fort. They had done all of the critical labor that was necessary to make New Amsterdam into a viable town. Now it was their time to be free.

Leslie Harris: The company responded with what has become known as half freedom these men and their wives could live on what became known as the free negro lots. They could farm their own land and they paid a kind of tribute in return to the company. The company also had the right to call them up if they needed their labor.

Jim Horton: Don't get the idea that these were just nice people and wanted to allow these Africans an opportunity. They calculated they could make more money with half freedom and therefore they used that system. But even under those conditions work in the Dutch colony for a slave was slavery.

Jennifer Morgan: The members of this community of half free people had to be very profoundly struck with the tentative and tenuous nature of their freedom. The evidence of that is that their children who are not half free who remain enslaved. And therefore in a very profound way speak to the fact that the community itself is, is vulnerable.

Leslie Harris: Half free blacks don't separate themselves from enslaved blacks. In fact they work. um at times try to negotiate freedom for other enslaved people. Over the years these 11 men and their wives continue to bargain, petition for freedom for their children.

Peter Wood: New Amsterdam is now becoming a good-sized town. At least 20 percent of the people are black. Some of them are slaves, some are half free some are free but wherever you are in that spectrum you can see the possibilities.

Leslie Harris: Half freedom is this moment where a group of slaves is moved to a new status. And there's probably a belief among the slave community that they too can achieve a new status. Not perfect -- not full freedom but something better, more autonomous than what had existed before.

Morgan Freeman, Narrator: Freedom was also the goal of black and white indentured servants in Chesapeake tobacco country. Since the early 1600s Black people had trickled into the area. Most were enslaved, others indentured servants. A few were free. John Punch was a black indentured servant. James Gregory a Scotsman and Victor from the Netherlands served with him on a small tobacco farm.

Peter Wood: In the New World, every European colony needed to provide a profit. In the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia, Maryland, the more tobacco you could plant the more profits you could reap. The more pleased the investors back in England would be. And there is tremendous pressure for labor.

Jim Horton: They hoped to use Native Americans that they found in Virginia as a labor supply. They were disappointed because Native Americans in Virginia were powerful enough to frustrate the attempts to use them as forced laborers. It was at that point that the British turned to British laborers under the indentured servitude system.

Marvin Dulaney: The status of indentured white servants and indentured Africans was very similar. They were both of course hired for a period of time. And, and both could become free. And let's also say that both were treated real bad. To be an indentured servant in this country meant that you literally didn't have any rights.

Ira Berlin: In this world there's not much practical difference in terms of the oppression that they face. In some measure that equality is an equality because these people can't be treated worse.

Morgan Freeman, Narrator: By 1640 indentured servants were essential to the profits of Virginia tobacco farmers. Their labor made tobacco the colony's most profitable export.

Norrece Jones: Three men on the same farm, doing the same labor, being harassed and oppressed on a comparable level to the point that these three men chose to flee their owner.

Morgan Freeman, Narrator: John Punch, Victor, and James Gregory crossed the Virginia border into Southern Maryland. Days later they were captured and returned. In the colony's highest court it was said that Hugh Gwyn's servants caused him considerable "loss and prejudice."

Norrece Jones: The two white men are sentenced to simply a number of years added to their indentures. For John Punch -- the one black among these three men -- his fate is infinitely worse, it's servitude for life.

Marvin Dulaney: Now there's no law that says that John Punch had to have been enslaved for life but it was clear that 1640 is sort of the turning point. The beginning of the point where Africans are gonna be treated differently as opposed to whites who are indentured servants.

Norrece Jones: Rather than distinguishing people because they are un-free people are being distinguished now because they're black or white. And that whiteness is privileging in ever increasing and beneficial ways.

Douglas Deal: Emanuel Driggus first appears in the records of the eastern shore of Virginia in about 1645 as the slave of Captain Francis Pott. Emanuel Driggus fits nicely into the category of people that we are coming to call Atlantic Creoles. He had this European name -- Portuguese really. Driggus is just an anglicization, a shortened form of Rodridges.

Morgan Freeman, Narrator: As part of Emanuel's servitude Captain Pott provided him with a cow and a calf. When Emmanuel began his service, his wife, Frances, and daughters, ages eight and one, were bound to Captain Pott as well. Captain Pott informed the court: "[I have] taken to service two daughters of my Negro, Emanuel Driggus to serve and be with me." The terms of Emanuel's enslavement guaranteed that these children would attain their freedom after a specified number of years. However, no such provision was made for their brothers and sisters.

Douglas Deal: Captain Pott ran into some financial difficulties. He instructed his nephew to try to arrange things to get him out of debt and told him particularly that he would rather part with anything other than his Negroes.

Morgan Freeman, Narrator: Yet, in 1657, after twelve years of service, Emanuel's family became Captain Pott's way to "arrange things."

Jennifer Morgan: Their family is completely disrupted, um in fact destroyed by Potts's economic insecurities. So that when Pott accrues debt their younger child is sold and later their oldest daughter Ann is sold for about 5,000 pounds of tobacco.

Morgan Freeman, Narrator: When Captain Pott died his widow inherited a farm, farm animals, and Emanuel. However, by 1661 court records show that Emanuel had attained his freedom, leased 145 acres and expanded his livestock holdings.

Jim Horton: Even if you get your freedom as a black person your life is not going to be like that of a free white person. Emanuel Driggus gets his freedom. He leases land he's got to pay many times what a white person would have paid to lease that land. He is not treated like your average free person. Race is really by now a factor and becoming a more and more significant factor.

Morgan Freeman, Narrator: By 1665 Maryland and New York had legalized slavery. Three years earlier Virginia law makers decreed, "all children born in Virginia shall be held bond or free according to the condition of the mother."

Deborah Gray White : Even children of say a white master and a slave woman it makes those children not free it makes them a slave. It makes them chattel, it makes them valuable, it makes the white father a slave owner of his own children.

Norrece Jones: Black men and black women raised thousands of mulatto children as families. That love of children transcended the pain and the horror of how that child was created. Unlike some Europeans who created these children and saw their lives so meaningless and insignificant that they sold them no differently than any other slave.

Douglas Deal: Emanuel Driggus continued to see to the needs of his enslaved children. He transferred title to livestock to them -- ah -- later on hoping against hope that the livestock might be a source for some route to freedom for them.

Morgan Freeman, Narrator: The court records of September 29, 1673 state "I Emanuel ..grant unto my said two daughters one bay mare." The same day he granted another mare to his free children. Despite his efforts, Emanuel could not free Thomas and Anne, the son and daughter sold by Captain Pott. However, because Thomas married a free black woman, his children were born free.

Douglas Deal: One of those children was named Frances, born in about 1677. Though she was free, she was bound out to serve a local blacksmith planter named John Brewer.

Morgan Freeman, Narrator: Frances entered the service of the blacksmith in 1694. Later that year she found herself in court charged by John Brewer with the sin of fornication. No partner was named. Seventeen-year-old Frances was sentenced to thirty lashes. In addition her servitude to Brewer was extended for two years. Months later Frances was back in court this time charged with having a child out of wedlock.

Jim Horton: It becomes increasingly difficult for free blacks to make their case before a court of law. Frances Driggus accuses her master of fathering her child. Now the court won't hear of this. They will not take the word of a black woman against that of a white man and especially a white man who is a planter.

Douglas Deal: This throws the court into an uproar. The justices decide to send the case on to a higher level. However, they do sentence her to yet another whipping.

Douglas Deal: Her master, John Brewer, decides he's had enough of Frances and assigns her to another man. Frances brings a court case against this move.

Morgan Freeman, Narrator: Judges were still unlikely to accept the testimony of a black woman against a white man. Un-deterred, Frances argued that Brewer was conspiring to place her in a community where her status as a free woman would not be recognized. The letter binding Frances to Brewer was ruled invalid.

Jennifer Morgan: Frances actually wins her suit and she's released from the terms of her indenture. Frances is really extraordinary because there are very few black women who are able to use the courts in the way that she does. Unfortunately her father has died. Her mother is sick and by 1700 Frances is improvised and destitute. She reappears in the courts because, um, in a desperate act she steals food to try to ah feed herself and her child.

Douglas Deal: She decides that ah she'd better link up to another household, again become a servant, have some steady kind of support. So she binds over herself and her child to Isaac and Bridgett Foxcroft. She promises to serve them for 10 years and any children that she has are to serve for 25 years.

Deborah Gray White : Now if you were a free black woman what are you going to do? There were very few means of making money for any woman in the colony. To be free ironically meant that you were going to be impoverished. And in fact you could find yourself worse off than someone who was enslaved.

Morgan Freeman, Narrator: Isaac Foxcroft had promised Frances freedom upon his death. However, when he died his widow assigned Frances and her children to another master. Again, Frances sought justice. Without a document and only her word for evidence, the court ruled against her. After 1704 she disappeared from the public record.

Douglas Deal: In Virginia and a number of other colonies the Atlantic Creoles knew how to negotiate their way through this system and, and win gains and advantages for themselves. Limited gains sometimes but gains nonetheless. It had gone from a situation where they could do that to a situation where there was no space left to do that.

Peter Wood: A small group of elite Virginia planters have committed to the use of race slavery to expand their tobacco holdings. In 1691 they forbid free blacks from living in certain counties. If you're African-American you cannot have an educatio, ah, you cannot move about freely. You cannot hold property. All of these constraints are falling in on one generation.

Deborah Gray White : It's a link in a chain of slavery whereby people cannot become free. Before this there were ways of becoming free.

Jim Horton: Slavery is replacing indentured servitude as the labor system of choice. And by the beginning of the 18th century it is clear that through law in the Chesapeake slavery is being made a racially based institution and people are being considered property.

Morgan Freeman, Narrator: New Amsterdam was renamed New York in 1664 after the British took over the colony. New York and other British colonies including Massachusetts, New Jersey and Maryland, were societies with slaves. Of the original thirteen colonies Carolina was the first in which slavery was the center of economic production, making it the first slave society. Racial slavery was sanctioned by Carolinas' 1669 constitution.

Peter Wood: The Carolina colony, which was originally South Carolina and North Carolina -- founded in about 1670. It's one of these gifts from Charles the second to his friend. Here's a place to exploit fellows -- go to it.

Edward Ball: Many South Carolinian whites came initially from Barbados where the British had established a giant sugar economy with some 50 thousand Afro-Caribbean slaves. The plantation system was merely transplanted like a kind of virus from the Caribbean to the American coast.

Marvin Dulaney: The more slaves that you brought gave you more land. You got 50 acres of land for every person that you brought into the Carolina colony. And so slavery was encouraged, ah, from the outset here. And of course the key was to find ah the, the type of work that slaves could do to make the colony profitable.

Morgan Freeman, Narrator: As the enslaved cleared land the planters searched for a way to exploit the Carolina low country. They tried growing cotton and indigo and raising livestock. The more they tried the more they failed to find a lucrative cash crop. The enslaved were growing something they called oryza (or rice) for themselves. They had grown it for hundreds of years in West Africa.

Peter Wood: Now it's not knowledge that they hold to themselves. Once they have shown other people how to plant this crop they've lost control of the knowledge. And an entire economy based on exploitation of Africans is in place within a generation. And the shipment of Africans to South Carolina skyrockets.

John K. Thornton: So many of the Africans who were enslaved during the 17th and 18th century were ex-soldiers some of them would be captured through wars or civil wars. And these victors would sell the captives off to the Europeans. This had the advantage from their point of view of reducing their numerical strength, especially the solider population, of the opponents.

Jim Horton: They're marched to the coast. Many of them had not been to the coast before -- they had not seen the ocean. They see white people for the first time. Who are these people? There was this folklore about cannibalism. Lots of slaves who were brought to the coast really were so afraid that these people were gonna eat them.

Peter Wood: Some of the people owning South Carolina are also invested in the Royal Africa Company, in the slave trade themselves. They're getting a profit at both ends out of this.

Morgan Freeman, Narrator: The major profit came from the "human cargo" of enslaved Africans. Slave trading had become the basis of an international economy.

Ira Berlin: There are a variety of auxiliary industries, that is -- ship building, insuring, ah, those ships, ah making sails for those ships. So the expansion of slavery is an essential part of the expansion of capitalism.

Edward Ball: As the ships came from West Africa and people were dying, their bodies would be thrown overboard usually in the middle of the Atlantic. But once in a while the captains would wait until they arrived Charleston Harbor. So one of these captains threw several dozen over board and their bodies including children began to wash ashore. So the governor became very upset. And it wasn't because this was a crime against humanity. It was because the smell was irritating to the white population.

Norrece Jones: In many African communities there's this reverence for the ancestors and this reverence for those who are now in the spirit world -- a belief that they're watching over. And I think that that is what sustained so many people at their, their weakest and their lowest moment.

Peter: On Sullivan's Island the English established a pest house where they could quarantine people off of incoming ships.

Jim Horton: These people were thought of as goods, as cargo. And in the language of the slave trader this was a place where goods were held until they could reach full market value. This is the perfect example of the inhumanity of the slave system.

Edward Ball: The most valuable workers were men younger than 20. And the second most valuable were women younger than 20. Children were young and inexpensive and they would grow up and live a long time and produce a lot of rice.

Jim Horton: For a person just arriving, you know, you've been aboard this ship for a long time but you probably don't know exactly how long. You don't know where you have gone. Of course the number one thing on your mind is how do I get out of here? How do I get myself free?

Edward Ball: Those who died were probably buried in mass graves. The people who had died en route were probably one quarter to one third of those who had actually boarded the ship. Those who finally survived were taken to Charleston where they were waxed down with oil, fed a good meal, and put on the auction block.

Morgan Freeman, Narrator: For the enslaved, survival took many forms. Some pretended to be ignorant or represented their masters' interests. However, many refused to conform. They maintained their dignity by drawing strength from their spirituality and culture.

Norrece Jones: Even though people may not have spoken the same language and even though people may have been rivals traditionally in their homelands there would've been a certain spiritual bonding that took place -- that people came together and fused themselves together in this new world.

Morgan Freeman, Narrator: By the 1720s enslaved black people outnumbered whites by more than two to one in the Carolina low country.

Edward Ball: Slavery was probably unique in every region where it flourished -- in Massachusetts, New York, Virginia and Barbados. But in South Carolina, it was probably the most industrial form of slavery. Because the scale was so, so great. The task system was something that was unique to South Carolina whereby enslaved people had a given assignment on each day. So they usually went to work in the morning at sunrise and a day's task in the field would be to hoe a quarter of an acre, which was 105 feet square. And people spent most of the year up to their knees in mud bent over tilling away at the soil under the sun. Rice was a very demanding master.

Deborah Gray White : In South Carolina slaves are worked almost to death. And then they go back to Africa and they go get some more and they're continually replenished.

John K. Thornton: In Central Africa, men generally don't do agricultural work. There's even a proverb: if you want to humiliate another man you say, "you're no man take up a hoe." Um, indicating that only women would do this kind of work and yet here in South Carolina men were being forced to work, right along side of women.

Peter Wood: In West Africa, the mother would pound a little bit of rice everyday to prepare the evening meal. It was a -- it was an art form -- it was a skill you could be proud of it. You then found yourself doing the same thing. You're growing rice, but now it's completely different.

Daniel C. Littlefield: The sound of the pounding of rice in Africa was the sound of domesticity. Ah -- but the sound of pounding rice in South Carolina was the sound of exploitation.

Edward Ball: Well the more money that the white elites made, the more it was in their interests to make the slave system a kind of invincible fortress that would perpetuate the -- ah -- comforts of the few. And so the incentive was for those who ran the society to set up extensive policing systems.

Jim Horton: A slave, a slave especially under these circumstances wants to survive, wants to be free. And it also doesn't take much imagination to understand the anger of being enslaved of being held against your will of seeing your loved ones subjected to treatment that no human begins ought to experience.

Edward Ball: The first time your punishment was whipping. If you ran away a second time there would be an "R" branded on your right cheek. The third time one of your ears would be severed and another "R" would be burned onto your left cheek for runaway. And if you ran away a fourth time -- if you were a man the punishment was castration.

Peter Wood: Gruesome punishments that had been familiar in England were exaggerated in the slave society. The planter had to calculate that I can punish this person even if they die I can import new people from West Africa. And I'm making so much money in this process that I can afford to do it.

Marvin Dulaney: The inhumane treatment says a lot -- that indeed they're resisting their enslavement. That -- like any other human being whose rights and opportunities are being taken away that they are going to resist and fight back.

Peter Wood: Burning down barns was something that occurred regularly and increased during harvest time when the workload was heaviest. Poisoning could not be caught readily. And it was often something that was feared by whites even when it didn't exist.

Edward Ball: One symptom of their fear was that there was a law that white men had to carry guns when they went to church. Sunday was the only day off for enslaved people. And so people the white folks feared that the uprising, if it ever came, would happen on Sunday when all the whites were gathered in church. Therefore the white men were required to carry their guns to church.

Peter Wood: It was on a Saturday night September 1739. It was a work crew. Many of them are Angolans, including a man named Jemmy who becomes the leader.

Edward Ball: The fated Sunday finally came on the Stono River southwest of Charleston. And they got to a store and broke in and they killed a Mr. Hutchinson. Decapitated him and put his head on a pole and cleared out his store of guns.

Peter Wood: It happens at harvest time, which is the time when blacks are being worked the hardest. It also happens in malaria time and there is an epidemic going on in Charleston which has virtually shut down the town.

John K. Thornton: They must have realized that they couldn't possibly take over the area and drive out the, the Europeans, but they did recognize the possibility that if they took common action as soldiers they might be able to escape.

Marvin Dulaney: The government of Florida had already issued a decree that any African who was a slave who made it to Florida would be free. And there was indeed a colony there of ex-slaves.

Jim Horton: There is this African manned fortification. And when the Stono rebellion breaks out it becomes clear that what these people are trying to do is to reach Fort Mose.

Peter Wood: People begin to join them. They burn successive plantations. Kill some of the white people living there. Draw some of the blacks with them. Others are afraid to join in and refuse to go. But unfortunately for them they meet the lieutenant governor riding north.

Marvin Dulaney: They gave chase to him but he was able to sound the alarm. And then of course sort of a -- a posse is formed and they set out after this group of Africans.

Peter Wood: It's an amazing moment. If they had been able to take him hostage who knows what the dynamics would have been. These people are pursued south for a day or two. If they had been able to go another 24 or 48 hours so -- that more people could have joined them their strength would have been greater and who knows what the prospects would have been.

Edward Ball: And the whites came on them, they surrounded these men and they fired on them. A lot of them were scattered, many of them were killed.

Marvin Dulaney: Some of them escape into the swamp, but those that they did capture they chopped their heads off. Put their heads on poles leading out, down what is today US 17 out of Charleston -- to send a message to the other Africans this is what will happen to you if you rebel.

Morgan Freeman, Narrator: After the Stono Rebellion, all of the separate laws governing slavery were consolidated into a single code. This "black code" restricted the movement of black people and regulated almost every aspect of the lives of the enslaved.

Peter Wood: The crushing of the Stono Rebellion was a tragedy. To me, these people were freedom fighters. Someone like Jemmy, newly arrived from Angola, is able to show others around him that this is not the only way to live, this can change -- it may not change this time but it will change in the future.

Jim Horton: Under the most inhumane conditions that you can possibly imagine, people were able to maintain their human dignity. It gives you some insight into the resilience of the human spirit. That it is possible for human beings to make the decision: I will not be defeated.

Meet ‘Angela,’ One of the 1st Slaves to Arrive in America

What if we could put names and faces to the Africans who were brought over to America as slaves in 1619? Would it humanize slavery instead of making it a category in American history that people love to conveniently forget or urge black folks to “just get over it”?

The first Africans arrived at Point Comfort, a port on the James River in Virginia, during the latter part of the summer in 1619. Among those slaves, there was a woman historians have named “Angela.” Say her name. Even though Angela’s story is intriguing, it’s still frustrating, if just for her name alone. Angela is certainly a whitewashed name, considering that she came from Africa. It reminds me of Kunta Kente from Roots being forced to take the name Toby. He fought for his identity until he lost limbs. I wonder if Angela resented being called Angela or if she even answered to it?

Angela wasn’t just another faceless African sold into slavery she was a human being with an entire life to live. And she survived the rough, unpredictable and violent trip to America.

Full Disclosure: The good folks over at American Revolution invited black press to Hampton, VA to experience an African Arrival Tour, commemorating our ancestors being brought to Virginia and sold into slavery. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go, but looking back, I’m glad I did.

I was given the opportunity to visit Colonial National Historical Park in Yorktown, Va., and the historical settlement of Jamestown grabbed my attention when I was told about Angela. The park’s superintendent, Kym Hall, took my fellow journalists and me down to an excavation site where researchers have dug up remains of a building they think belonged to Capt. William Pierce. He was a planter, and it’s on record that planters were given slaves.

New England Colonies' Use of Slavery

Although slavery ended earlier in the North than in the South (which would keep its slave culture alive and thriving through the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil War), colonial New England played an undeniable role in the long and grim history of American slavery.

Geography, Human Geography, Social Studies, U.S. History

1760s Boston Seaport

Lacking large-scale plantations, New England did not have the same level of demand for slave labor as the South. But slavery still existed there until well into the 19th century. Ships in Boston Seaport sailed enslaved Africans along the Atlantic and throughout the Caribbean.

Image courtesy of Encyclopedia Britannica

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Conversations about slavery in the United States frequently center on the South and the Civil War. Yet the roots of slavery in the New World go much deeper than that&mdashback to the original British colonies, including the northernmost in New England. Although New England would later become known for its abolitionist leaders and its role in helping formerly enslaved Southern blacks and those escaping slavery, the colonies had a history of using enslaved and indentured labor to create and build their economies.

The Origins of American Slavery

The concept of slavery was hardly a new one when England&rsquos colonists reached North American shores, as it had been practiced in Europe for more than a century before the colonies. So the arrival of Africans in Virginia in 1619 was not the start of a new phenomenon, but the beginning of human trafficking between Africa and North America based on the social norms of Europe.

While slavery grew exponentially in the South with large-scale plantations and agricultural operations, slavery in New England was different. Most of those enslaved in the North did not live in large communities, as they did in the mid-Atlantic colonies and the South. Those Southern economies depended upon people enslaved at plantations to provide labor and keep the massive tobacco and rice farms running. But without the same rise in plantations in New England, it was more typical to have one or two enslaved people attached to a household, business, or small farm.

In New England, it was common for individual enslaved people to learn specialized skills and crafts due to the area&rsquos more varied economy. Ministers, doctors, tradesmen, and merchants also used enslaved labor to work alongside them and run their households. As in the South, enslaved men were frequently forced into heavy or farm labor. Enslaved women were frequently forced to work as household servants, whereas in the South women often performed agricultural work.

New England&rsquos Forced Laborers: the Enslaved, Indentured Servants, and Native Americans

Part of the reason slavery evolved differently in New England than in the middle and southern colonies was the culture of indentured servitude. As a carryover from English practice, indentured servants were the original standard for forced labor in New England and middle colonies like Pennsylvania and Delaware. These indentured servants were people voluntarily working off debts, usually signing a contract to perform slave-level labor for four to seven years. Historians estimate that more than half of the original population of the American colonies was brought over as indentured servants.

New England colonies were also slower to start accepting African slavery in general&mdashpossibly because there were local alternatives to enslaved Africans. Early in New England&rsquos history, a different kind of human trafficking emerged: enslaving and shipping local Native Americans to the West Indies. This kind of slavery was limited compared to the number of enslaved Africans and indentured servants that eventually came to New England, but exporting and enslaving these native people was an undeniable part of early New England human trafficking.

Enslaved Africans quickly replaced indentured servants on plantations in Virginia, Maryland, and other Southern colonies, but in New England, imported enslaved people were initially given the same status as indentured servants. This changed in 1641, when the Massachusetts Bay Colony passed laws for enslaved people differentiating enslaved labor from the indentured servants&rsquo contract labor, which took away the enslaved&rsquos rights.

Still, the New England colonies began to show differences in their approaches to slavery, even as slavery became more common in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island in the 18 th century. The colonial government in Rhode Island&mdashwhich had the largest enslaved population by the 1700s&mdashtried, though ultimately failed, to enforce laws that gave the enslaved the same rights as indentured servants and set enslaved individuals free after 10 years of service. Although human trafficking continued to flourish throughout the 1700s, these first moves to break up human trafficking foreshadowed what was to come in the New England colonies.

Becoming the &ldquoFree North&rdquo

The use of slavery throughout the colonies (particularly the southern ones) continued to grow throughout the 18 th century, but as the colonies moved closer to revolution against England, there was a growing trend of questioning slavery and its practices in New England. The number of people freed from bondage in New England grew, as the enslaved who fought in the Revolutionary War (on both sides) were offered freedom.

Religious societies like the Quakers (who believed that slavery was sinful and amoral) began the first stirrings of anti-slavery movements in New England. These early movements would later form the backbone of the 19 th century abolitionist movements that would spread throughout the United States.

New England governments began to step in as well, outlawing active human trafficking in the Connecticut and Rhode Island colonies. However, few colonial leaders wanted a full repeal of slavery at the time. It was not until the last decades of the 18th century that the former New England colonies began the long process of outlawing slavery via emancipation statutes. These were "gradual emancipation" laws, however, designed to phase out the institution over many years. Though the enslaved populations dwindled over time after these laws were passed, enslaved people were still legally held for decades in some northern states. Despite passage of these gradual emancipation laws in 1784, Rhode Island and Connecticut didn't free their last enslaved people until the 1840s.

Lacking large-scale plantations, New England did not have the same level of demand for slave labor as the South. But slavery still existed there until well into the 19th century. Ships in Boston Seaport sailed enslaved Africans along the Atlantic and throughout the Caribbean.

Watch the video: Rassismus in den USA: Von den Anfängen bis heute (January 2022).