Massachusetts (English: /ˌmæsəˈtʃuːsɪts/ (listen), /-zɪts/, Massachusett: Muhsachuweesee [məhsatʃəwiːsiː]), officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state in the New England region of the United States. It borders on the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Maine to the east, Connecticut and Rhode Island to the south, New Hampshire and Vermont to the north and New York to the west. The capital of Massachusetts is Boston, which is the most populous city in New England. It is home to the Greater Boston metropolitan area, which is known for being rich with American history, academia, and industry. Originally, the local economy was dependent on agriculture, fishing and trade. However, Massachusetts was transformed into a manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution. In the late 20th century during an era known as the Massachusetts Miracle, the Commonwealth shifted from being known for their manufacturing to services to being a global leader in biotechnology, engineering, higher education, finance, and maritime trade.
What became known as Plymouth was colonized in 1620 by the Pilgrims of the Mayflower. In 1630, the Massachusetts Bay Colony—taking its name from the indigenous Massachusett people—established settlements in Boston and Salem. In 1692, the town of Salem and surrounding areas experienced the Salem Witch Trials, which is now considered an infamous case of mass hysteria. In 1777, General Henry Knox founded the Springfield Armory, which was responsible for many important technological advances—including interchangeable parts—during the Industrial Revolution. In 1786, a populist revolt led by disaffected American Revolutionary War veterans known as Shays’ Rebellion influenced the United States Constitutional Convention. In the 18th century, the Protestant First Great Awakening swept Britain and the Thirteen Colonies and originated in Northampton from the pulpit of preacher Jonathan Edwards. In the late 18th century, Boston became known as the “Cradle of Liberty” for its role in the American Revolution.
Before the American Civil War, Massachusetts was a center for the abolitionist, temperance, and transcendentalist movements. In the late 19th century, the sports basketball and volleyball were invented in the western Massachusetts cities of Springfield and Holyoke, respectively. In 2004, Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legally recognize same-sex marriage as a result of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s decision in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health. Many prominent American political dynasties have hailed from the state, including the Adams and Kennedy families. Harvard University in Cambridge is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States, with the largest financial endowment of any university. Harvard Law School has educated a contemporaneous majority of Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. Kendall Square in Cambridge has been called “the most innovative square mile on the planet”, in reference to the high concentration of entrepreneurial start-ups and quality of innovation which have emerged in the vicinity of the square since 2010. Both Harvard and MIT, also in Cambridge, are perennially ranked as either the most or among the most highly regarded academic institutions in the world. The state’s public schools are some of the best in the world in terms of academic performance. The state has been ranked as one of the top states in the United States for citizens to live in—however, due to the process of gentrification, it is also one of the most expensive.