Province of Massachusetts Bay
A map depicting the colonial claims related to the province
|Status||Colony of England (1691–1707)|
Colony of Great Britain (1707–1776)
|Common languages||English, Massachusett, Mi'kmaq|
|William III and Mary II|
|Sir William Phips|
• Charter issued
• Provincial Congress established
• Massachusetts Declaration of Independence
|May 1, 1776|
• Adoption of the Massachusetts Constitution
|Currency||Massachusetts pound, Spanish dollar|
|Today part of||United States|
The Province of Massachusetts Baywas a crown colony in British America and one of the thirteen original states of the United States from 1776 onward. It was chartered on October 7, 1691 by William III and Mary II, the joint monarchs of the kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland. The charter took effect on May 14, 1692 and included the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the Plymouth Colony, the Province of Maine, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick; the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is the direct successor. Maine has been a separate state since 1820, and Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are now Canadian provinces, having been part of the colony only until 1697.
The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen American Colonies, were a group of British colonies on the Atlantic coast of North America founded in the 17th and 18th centuries. They declared independence in 1776 and formed the United States of America. The Thirteen Colonies had very similar political, constitutional, and legal systems and were dominated by Protestant English-speakers. They were part of Britain's possessions in the New World, which also included colonies in Canada, the Caribbean, and the Floridas.
William III, also widely known as William of Orange, was sovereign Prince of Orange from birth, Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Gelderland and Overijssel in the Dutch Republic from 1672 and King of England, Ireland and Scotland from 1689 until his death in 1702. As King of Scotland, he is known as William II. He is sometimes informally known in Northern Ireland and Scotland as "King Billy".
Mary II was Queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland, co-reigning with her husband and first cousin, King William III and II, from 1689 until her death; popular histories usually refer to their joint reign as that of William and Mary. William and Mary, both Protestants, became king and queen regnant following the Glorious Revolution, which resulted in the adoption of the English Bill of Rights and the deposition of her Roman Catholic father, James II and VII. William became sole ruler upon her death in 1694. He reigned as such until his own death in 1702, when he was succeeded by Mary's sister Anne.
The name Massachusetts comes from the Massachusett Indians, an Algonquian tribe. It has been translated as "at the great hill", "at the place of large hills", or "at the range of hills", with reference to the Blue Hills and to Great Blue Hill in particular.
The Algonquian are one of the most populous and widespread North American native language groups. Today, thousands of individuals identify with various Algonquian peoples. Historically, the peoples were prominent along the Atlantic Coast and into the interior along the Saint Lawrence River and around the Great Lakes. This grouping consists of the peoples who speak Algonquian languages.
Blue Hills Reservation is a 6,000-acre (2,400 ha) state park in Norfolk County, Massachusetts. Managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, it covers parts of Milton, Quincy, Braintree, Canton, Randolph, and Dedham. Located approximately ten miles south of downtown Boston, the reservation is one of the largest parcels of undeveloped conservation land within the Greater Boston metropolitan area. The park's varied terrain and scenic views make it a popular destination for hikers from the Boston area.
Great Blue Hill is a hill of 635 feet located within the Blue Hills Reservation in Milton and Canton, Massachusetts 10 miles (15 km) southwest of downtown Boston. It is the highest point in Norfolk County and the Greater Boston area. The modern name for the hill was given by early European explorers who, while sailing along the coastline, noticed the bluish hue of the exposed granite faces when viewed from a distance. The Blue Hills' eastern slopes face the ocean and lie within Quincy. The area attracted quarrying for its "blue granite". The name of the Massachusett Indian tribe and their language derive from the Massachusett name for the hill: massa-adchu-es-et, where massa- is "large", -adchu- is "hill", -es- is a diminutive suffix meaning "small", and -et is a locative suffix, identifying a place.
Colonial settlement of the shores of Massachusetts Bay began in 1620 with the founding of the Plymouth Colony.Other attempts at colonization took place throughout the 1620s, but expansion of English settlements only began on a large scale with the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1628 and the arrival of the first large group of Puritan settlers in 1630. Over the next ten years, there was a major migration of Puritans to the area, leading to the founding of a number of new colonies in New England. By the 1680s, the number of New England colonies had stabilized at five; the Connecticut Colony, the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, and the Province of New Hampshire all bordered the area surrounding Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth. Massachusetts Bay, however, was the most populous and economically significant, hosting a sizable merchant fleet.
Massachusetts Bay is a bay on the Atlantic Ocean that forms part of the central coastline of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Plymouth Colony was an English colonial venture in North America from 1620 to 1691 at a location that had previously been surveyed and named by Captain John Smith. The settlement served as the capital of the colony and developed as the town of Plymouth, Massachusetts. At its height, Plymouth Colony occupied most of the southeastern portion of Massachusetts.
The Massachusetts Bay Colony (1628–1691) was an English settlement on the east coast of North America in the 17th century around the Massachusetts Bay, the northernmost of the several colonies later reorganized as the Province of Massachusetts Bay. The lands of the settlement were located in southern New England in Massachusetts, with initial settlements situated on two natural harbors and surrounding land, about 15.4 miles (24.8 km) apart—the areas around Salem and Boston.
The colonies had struggles with some of the Indian tribes.The Pequot tribe was virtually destroyed in the Pequot War during the 1630s, and King Philip's War in the 1670s decimated the Narragansetts in southern New England. King Philip's War was also very costly to the colonists of New England, putting a halt to expansion for several years.
The Pequot War was an armed conflict that took place between 1636 and 1638 in New England between the Pequot tribe and an alliance of the colonists of the Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, and Saybrook colonies and their allies from the Narragansett and Mohegan tribes. The war concluded with the decisive defeat of the Pequots. At the end, about 700 Pequots had been killed or taken into captivity. Hundreds of prisoners were sold into slavery to the West Indies; other survivors were dispersed as captives to the victorious tribes.
King Philip's War was an armed conflict in 1675–78 between Indian inhabitants of New England and New England colonists and their Indian allies. The war is named for Metacomet, the Wampanoag chief who adopted the name Philip because of the friendly relations between his father Massasoit and the Mayflower Pilgrims. The war continued in the most northern reaches of New England until the signing of the Treaty of Casco Bay in April 1678.
The Narragansett people are an Algonquian Native American tribe from Rhode Island. The tribe was nearly landless for most of the 20th century, but it worked to gain federal recognition and attained it in 1983. It is officially the Narragansett Indian Tribe of Rhode Island The tribe acquired land in 1991 in their lawsuit Carcieri v. Salazar, and they petitioned the Department of the Interior to take the land into trust on their behalf. This would have made the newly acquired land to be officially recognized as part of the Narragansett Indian reservation, taking it out from under Rhode Island's legal authority. In 2009, the United States Supreme Court ruled against the request, declaring that tribes which had achieved federal recognition since the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act did not have standing to have newly acquired lands taken into federal trust and removed from state control.
Massachusetts and Plymouth were both somewhat politically independent from England in their early days, but this situation changed after the restoration of Charles II to the English throne in 1660.Charles sought closer oversight of the colonies, and he tried to introduce and enforce economic control over their activities. The Navigation Acts passed in the 1660s were widely disliked in Massachusetts, where merchants often found themselves trapped and at odds with the rules. However, many colonial governments did not enforce the acts themselves, particularly Massachusetts, and tensions grew when Charles revoked the first Massachusetts Charter in 1684.
Charles II was king of England, Scotland and Ireland. He was king of Scotland from 1649 until his deposition in 1651, and king of England, Scotland and Ireland from the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 until his death.
The Navigation Acts, or more broadly The Acts of Trade and Navigation were a long series of English laws that developed, promoted, and regulated English ships, shipping, trade, and commerce between other countries and with its own colonies. The laws also regulated England's fisheries and restricted foreigners' participation in its colonial trade. While based on earlier precedents, they were first enacted in 1651 under the Commonwealth. The system was reenacted and broadened with the restoration by the Act of 1660, and further developed and tightened by the Navigation Acts of 1663, 1673, and 1696. Upon this basis during the 18th century, the acts were modified by subsequent amendments, changes, and the addition of enforcement mechanisms and staff. Additionally, a major change in the very purpose of the acts in the 1760s — that of generating a colonial revenue, rather than only regulating the Empire's trade — would help lead to revolutionary events, and major changes in implementation of the acts themselves. The Acts generally prohibited the use of foreign ships, required the employment of English and colonial mariners for three quarters of the crews, including East India Company ships. The acts prohibited the colonies from exporting specific, enumerated, products to countries and colonies other than those British, and mandated that imports be sourced only through Britain. Overall, the Acts formed the basis for English British overseas trade for nearly 200 years, but with the development and gradual acceptance of free trade, the acts were eventually repealed in 1849. The laws reflected the European economic theory of mercantilism which sought to keep all the benefits of trade inside their respective Empires, and to minimize the loss of gold and silver, or profits, to foreigners through purchases and trade. The system would develop with the colonies supplying raw materials for British industry, and in exchange for this guaranteed market, the colonies would purchase manufactured goods from or through Britain.
In 1686, Charles II's successor King James II formed the Dominion of New England which ultimately created a single political unit out of the British territories from Delaware Bay to Penobscot Bay.Dominion governor Sir Edmund Andros was highly unpopular in the colonies, but he was especially hated in Massachusetts where he angered virtually everyone by rigidly enforcing the Navigation Acts, vacating land titles, appropriating a Puritan meeting house as a site to host services for the Church of England, and restricting town meetings, among other sundry complaints. James was deposed in the 1688 Glorious Revolution, whereupon Massachusetts political leaders rose up against Andros, arresting him and other English authorities in April 1689. This led to the collapse of the Dominion, as the other colonies then quickly reasserted their old forms of government.
James II and VII was King of England and Ireland as James II and King of Scotland as James VII, from 6 February 1685 until he was deposed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. The last Roman Catholic monarch of England, Scotland and Ireland, his reign is now remembered primarily for struggles over religious tolerance. However, it also involved the principles of absolutism and divine right of kings and his deposition ended a century of political and civil strife by confirming the primacy of Parliament over the Crown.
The Dominion of New England in America (1686–89) was an administrative union of English colonies covering New England and the Mid-Atlantic Colonies. Its political structure represented centralized control similar to the model used by the Spanish monarchy through the Viceroyalty of New Spain. The dominion was unacceptable to most colonists because they deeply resented being stripped of their rights and having their colonial charters revoked. Governor Sir Edmund Andros tried to make legal and structural changes, but most of these were undone and the Dominion was overthrown as soon as word was received that King James II had left the throne in England. One notable change was the introduction of the Church of England into Massachusetts, whose Puritan leaders had previously refused to allow it any sort of foothold.
Delaware Bay is the estuary outlet of the Delaware River on the Northeast seaboard of the United States. Approximately 782 square miles (2,030 km2) in area, the bay's fresh water mixes for many miles with the salt water of the Atlantic Ocean.
The Plymouth colony never had a royal charter, so its governance had always been on a somewhat precarious footing. The Massachusetts colonial government was re-established but it no longer had a valid charter, and some opponents of the old Puritan rule refused to pay taxes and engaged in other forms of protest. Provincial agents traveled to London where Increase Mather was representing the old colony leaders, and he petitioned new rulers William III and Mary II to restore the old colonial charter. King William refused, however, when he learned that this might result in a return to the religious rule. Instead, the Lords of Trade combined the colonies of Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay into the Province of Massachusetts Bay. They issued a charter for the Province on October 7, 1691, and appointed Sir William Phips as its governor.
The new charter differed from the old one in several important ways. One of the principal changes was inaugurated over Mather's objection, changing the voting eligibility requirements from religious qualifications to land ownership. The effect of this change has been a subject of debate among historians, but there is significant consensus that it greatly enlarged the number of men eligible to vote.The new rules required prospective voters to own £40 worth of property or real estate that yielded at least £2 per year in rent; Benjamin Labaree estimates that this included about three-quarters of the adult male population at the time.
The second major change was that senior officials of the government were appointed by the crown instead of being elected, including governor, lieutenant governor, and judges. The legislative assembly (or General Court) continued to be elected, however, and was responsible for choosing members of the Governor's Council. The governor had veto power over laws passed by the General Court, as well as over appointments to the council. These rules differed in important ways from the royal charters enjoyed by other provinces. The most important were that the General Court now possessed the powers of appropriation, and that the council was locally chosen and not appointed by either the governor or the Crown. These significantly weakened the governor's power, which became important later in provincial history.
The province's territory was also greatly expanded beyond that originally claimed by the Massachusetts and Plymouth colonies. Their territories initially included present-day mainland Massachusetts, western Maine, and portions of the neighboring modern states; this territory was expanded to include Acadia or Nova Scotia (then encompassing modern Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and eastern Maine), as well as what was then known as Dukes County in the Province of New York, consisting of the islands of Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, and the Elizabeth Islands.
In the aftermath of the revolt against Andros, colonial defenses had been withdrawn from the frontiers, which were then repeatedly raided by French and Indian forces from Canada and Acadia. Queen Anne's War broke out in 1702 and lasted until 1713. Massachusetts Governor Joseph Dudley organized the colonial defenses, and there were fewer raids than previously. Dudley also organized expeditions in 1704 and 1707 against Acadia, a haven for French privateers, and he requested support from London for more ambitious efforts against New France. In 1709, Massachusetts raised troops for an expedition against Canada that was called off; troops were again raised in 1710, when the Acadian capital of Port Royal was finally captured.
Because of these wars, the colony had issued paper currency whose value was constantly in decline, leading to financial crises. This led to proposals to create a bank that would issue notes backed by real estate, but this move was opposed by Governor Dudley and his successor Samuel Shute. Dudley, Shute, and later governors fruitlessly attempted to convince the general court to fix salaries for crown-appointed officials. The issues of currency and salary were both long-lived issues over which governors and colonists fought. The conflict over salary reached a peak of sorts during the brief administration of William Burnet. He held the provincial assembly in session for six months, relocating it twice, in an unsuccessful attempt to force the issue.
In the early 1720s, the Abenaki Indians of northern New England resumed raiding frontier communities, encouraged by French intriguers but also concerned over English encroachment on their lands. This violence was eventually put down by Acting Governor William Dummer in what came to be called Dummer's War (among many other names). Many Abenakis retreated from northern New England into Canada after the conflict.
In the 1730s, Governor Jonathan Belcher disputed the power of the legislature to direct appropriations, vetoing bills that did not give him the freedom to disburse funds as he saw fit. This meant that the provincial treasury was often empty. Belcher was, however, permitted by the Board of Trade to accept annual grants from the legislature in lieu of a fixed salary. Under his administration, the currency crisis flared again. This resulted in a revival of the land bank proposal, which Belcher opposed. His political opponents intrigued in London to have him removed, and the bank was established. Its existence was short-lived, for an act of Parliament forcibly dissolved it. This turned a number of important colonists against crown and Parliament, including the father of American Revolutionary War political leader Samuel Adams.
The next twenty years were dominated by war. King George's War broke out in 1744, and Governor William Shirley rallied troops from around New England for an assault on the French fortress at Louisbourg which succeeded in 1745. Louisbourg was returned to France at the end of the war in 1748, however, much to the annoyance of New Englanders. Governor Shirley was relatively popular, in part because he managed to avoid or finesse the more contentious issues which his predecessors had raised. He was again militarily active when the French and Indian War broke out in 1754. He was raised to the highest colonial military command by the death of General Edward Braddock in 1755, but he was unable to manage the large-scale logistics that the war demanded and was recalled in 1757. His successor Thomas Pownall oversaw the colonial contribution to the remainder of the war, which ended in North America in 1760.
The 1760s and early 1770s were marked by a rising tide of colonial frustration with London's policies and with the governors sent to implement and enforce them. Both Francis Bernard and Thomas Hutchinson, the last two non-military governors, were widely disliked over issues large and small, notably the Parliament's attempts to impose taxes on the colonies without representation. Hutchinson was a Massachusetts native who served for many years as lieutenant governor, yet he authorized quartering British Army troops in Boston, which eventually precipitated the Boston massacre on March 5, 1770. By this time, agitators such as Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and John Hancock were active in opposition to crown policies.
After the Boston Tea Party in December 1773, Hutchinson was replaced in May 1774 by General Thomas Gage.Gage was well received at first, but the reception rapidly became worse as he began to implement the so-called Intolerable Acts, including the Massachusetts Government Act, which dissolved the legislature, and the Boston Port Act, which closed the port of Boston until reparations were paid for the dumped tea. The port closure did great damage to the provincial economy and led to a wave of sympathetic assistance from other colonies.
The royal government of the Province of Massachusetts Bay existed until early October 1774, when members of the General Court of Massachusetts met in contravention of the Massachusetts Government Act and established the Massachusetts Provincial Congress which became the de facto government.Governor Gage continued an essentially military rule in Boston, but the provincial congress had effective rule in the rest of the province. Hostilities broke out in April 1775 at Lexington and Concord, which started the American Revolutionary War, and continued with the Siege of Boston. The British evacuated Boston on March 17, 1776, ending the siege and bringing the city under patriot control.
On May 1, 1776, the General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring independence in the name of "The Government and People of the Massachusetts Bay in New England".This was followed by the United States Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring the independence of all of the Thirteen Colonies.
The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was agreed upon in Cambridge in October 1779 and adopted by the delegates nine months later in June 1780, to go into effect "the last Wednesday of October next". In elections held in October 1780, John Hancock was elected the first Governor of Massachusetts along with representatives to the commonwealth's first General Court.
The politics of the province were dominated by three major factions, according to Thomas Hutchinson, who wrote the first major history of colonial Massachusetts. This is in distinction to most of the other colonies, where there were two factions. Expansionists believed strongly in the growth of the colony and in a vigorous defense against French and Indian incursions; they were exemplified in Massachusetts by people such as Thomas Hancock, uncle to John Hancock, and James Otis, Sr.. This faction became a vital force in the Patriot movements preceding the revolution. Non-expansionists were more circumspect, preferring to rely on a strong relationship with the mother country; they were exemplified by Hutchinson and the Oliver family of Boston. This faction became the Loyalists in the revolutionary era.
The third force in Massachusetts politics was a populist faction made possible by the structure of the provincial legislature, in which rural and lower class communities held a larger number of votes than in other provinces. Its early leaders included the Cookes (Elisha Senior and Junior) of Maine, while later leaders included revolutionary firebrand Samuel Adams.Religion did not play a major role in these divisions, although non-expansionists tended to be Anglican while expansionists were mainly middle-of-the road Congregationalist. Populists generally held either conservative Puritan views or the revivalist views of the First Great Awakening. Throughout the provincial history, these factions made and broke alliances as conditions and circumstances dictated.
The populist faction had concerns that sometimes prompted it to support one of the other parties. Its rural character meant that they sided with the expansionists when there were troubles on the frontier. They also tended to side with the expansionists on the recurring problems with the local money, whose inflation tended to favor their ability to repay debts in depreciated currency. These ties became stronger in the 1760s as the conflict grew with Parliament.
The non-expansionists were composed principally of a wealthy merchant class in Boston. They had allies in the wealthy farming communities in the more developed eastern portions of the province, and in the province's major ports. These alliances often rivalled the populist party in power in the provincial legislature. They favored stronger regulation from the mother country and opposed the inflationist issuance of colonial currency.
Expansionists mainly came from two disparate groups. The first was a portion of the eastern merchant class, represented by the Hancocks and Otises, who harbored views of the growth of the colony and held relatively liberal religious views. They were joined by wealthy landowners in the Connecticut River valley, whose needs for defense and growth were directly tied to property development. These two groups agreed on defense and an expansionist vision, although they disagreed on the currency issue; the westerners sided with the non-expansionists in their desire for a standards-based currency.
The province significantly expanded its geographical reach, principally in the 18th century. There were 83 towns in 1695; this had grown to 186 by 1765. Most of the towns in 1695 were within one day's travel of Boston, but this changed as townships sprang up in Worcester County and the Berkshires on land that had been under Indian control prior to King Philip's War.
The character of local politics changed as the province prospered and grew. Unity of community during the earlier colonial period gave way to subdivision of larger towns. Dedham, for example, was split into six towns, and Newburyport was separated from Newbury in 1764.
Town meetings also became more important in local political life. As towns grew, the townspeople became more assertive in managing their affairs. Town selectmen had previously wielded significant power, but they lost some of their influence to the town meetings and to the appointment of paid town employees, such as tax assessors, constables, and treasurers.
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The boundaries of the province changed in both major and minor ways during its existence. There was very thin soil land, and a rocky terrain. Nova Scotia, then including New Brunswick, was occupied by English forces at the time of the charter's issuance, but was separated in 1697 when the territory, called Acadia by the French, was formally returned to France by the 1697 Treaty of Ryswick. Nova Scotia became a separate province in 1710, following the British conquest of Acadia in Queen Anne's War. Maine was not separated until after American independence, when it attained statehood in 1820.
The borders of the province with the neighboring provinces underwent some adjustment. Its principal predecessor colonies, Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth, had established boundaries with New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, but these underwent changes during the provincial period. The boundary with New Hampshire was of some controversy, since the original boundary definition in colonial charters (three miles north of the Merrimack River) had been made on the assumption that the river flowed predominantly from the west. This issue was resolved by King George II in 1741, when he ruled that the border between the two provinces follows what is now the border between the two states.
Surveys in the 1690s suggested that the original boundary line with Connecticut and Rhode Island had been incorrectly surveyed. In the early 18th century joint surveys determined that the line was south of where it should be. In 1713 Massachusetts set aside a plot of land (called the "Equivalent Lands") to compensate Connecticut for this error. These lands were auctioned off, and the proceeds were used by Connecticut to fund Yale College. The boundary with Rhode Island was also found to require adjustment, and in 1746 territories on the eastern shore of Narragansett Bay (present-day Barrington, Bristol, Tiverton and Little Compton) were ceded to Rhode Island. The borders between Massachusetts and its southern neighbors were not fixed into their modern form until the 19th century, requiring significant legal action in the case of the Rhode Island borders. The western border with New York was agreed in 1773, but not surveyed until 1788.
The province of Massachusetts Bay also laid a claim to what is now Western New York as part of the province's sea-to-sea grant. The 1780s Treaty of Hartford saw Massachusetts relinquish that claim in exchange for the right to sell it off to developers.
Wee doe by these presents Vnite Erect and Incorporate the same into one reall Province by the Name of Our Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England….
Thomas Hutchinson was a businessman, historian, and a prominent Loyalist politician of the Province of Massachusetts Bay in the years before the American Revolution. He has been referred to as "the most important figure on the loyalist side in pre-Revolutionary Massachusetts." He was a successful merchant and politician, and was active at high levels of the Massachusetts government for many years, serving as lieutenant governor and then governor from 1758 to 1774. He was a politically polarizing figure who came to be identified by John Adams and Samuel Adams as a proponent of hated British taxes, despite his initial opposition to Parliamentary tax laws directed at the colonies. He was blamed by Lord North for being a significant contributor to the tensions that led to the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War.
The Province of New Hampshire was a colony of England and later a British province in North America. The name was first given in 1629 to the territory between the Merrimack and Piscataqua rivers on the eastern coast of North America, and was named after the county of Hampshire in southern England by Captain John Mason, its first named proprietor. In 1776 the province established an independent state and government, the State of New Hampshire, and joined with twelve other colonies to form the United States.
Thomas Dudley was a colonial magistrate who served several terms as governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Dudley was the chief founder of Newtowne, later Cambridge, Massachusetts, and built the town's first home. He provided land and funds to establish the Roxbury Latin School, and signed Harvard College's new charter during his 1650 term as governor. Dudley was a devout Puritan who was opposed to religious views not conforming with his. In this he was more rigid than other early Massachusetts leaders like John Winthrop, but less confrontational than John Endecott.
Richard Bellingham was a colonial magistrate, lawyer, and several-time governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and the last surviving signatory of the colonial charter at his death. A wealthy lawyer in Lincolnshire prior to his departure for the New World in 1634, he was a liberal political opponent of the moderate John Winthrop, arguing for expansive views on suffrage and lawmaking, but also religiously somewhat conservative, opposing the efforts of Quakers and Baptists to settle in the colony. He was one of the architects of the Massachusetts Body of Liberties, a document embodying many sentiments also found in the United States Bill of Rights.
John Leverett was an English colonial magistrate, merchant, soldier and the penultimate governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Born in England, he came to Massachusetts as a teenager. He was a leading merchant in the colony, and served in its military. In the 1640s he went back to England to fight in the English Civil War.
Joseph Dudley was an English colonial administrator, a native of Roxbury, Massachusetts, and the son of one of its founders. He had a leading role in the administration of the Dominion of New England (1686–1689), which was overthrown in the 1689 Boston revolt. He served briefly on the council of the Province of New York where he oversaw the trial which convicted Jacob Leisler, the ringleader of Leisler's Rebellion. He then spent eight years in England in the 1690s as Lieutenant-Governor of the Isle of Wight, including one year as a Member of Parliament for Newtown. In 1702, he returned to New England after being appointed governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay and Province of New Hampshire, posts that he held until 1715.
Simon Bradstreet was a colonial magistrate, businessman, diplomat, and the last governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Arriving in Massachusetts on the Winthrop Fleet in 1630, Bradstreet was almost constantly involved in the politics of the colony but became its governor only in 1679. He served on diplomatic missions and as agent to the crown in London, and also served as a commissioner to the New England Confederation. He was politically comparatively moderate, arguing minority positions in favor of freedom of speech and for accommodation of the demands of King Charles II following his restoration to the throne.
Thomas Danforth was a politician, magistrate, and landowner in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. A conservative Puritan, he served for many years as one of the colony's councilors and magistrates, generally leading opposition to attempts by the English kings to assert control over the colony. He accumulated land in the central part of the colony that eventually became a portion of Framingham, Massachusetts. His government roles included administration of territory in present-day Maine that was purchased by the colony.
William Stoughton was a colonial magistrate and administrator in the Province of Massachusetts Bay. He was in charge of what have come to be known as the Salem Witch Trials, first as the Chief Justice of the Special Court of Oyer and Terminer in 1692, and then as the Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Judicature in 1693. In these trials he controversially accepted spectral evidence. Unlike some of the other magistrates, he never admitted to the possibility that his acceptance of such evidence was in error.
A charter is a document that gave colonies the legal rights to exist. A charter is a document, bestowing certain rights on a town, city, university or an institution. Colonial Charters were empowered when the king gave a grant of exclusive powers for the governance of land to proprietors or a settlement company. The charters defined the relationship of the colony to the mother country, free from involvement from the Crown. For the trading companies, charters vested the powers of government in the company in England. The officers would determine the administration, laws, and ordinances for the colony, but only as conforming to the laws of England. Proprietary charters gave governing authority to the proprietor, who determined the form of government, chose the officers, and made laws, subject to the advice and consent of the freemen. All colonial charters guaranteed to the colonists the vague rights and privileges of Englishmen, which would later cause trouble during the revolutionary era. In the second half of the seventeenth century, the Crown looked upon charters as obstacles to colonial control, substituting the royal province for corporations and proprietary governments.
The history of New England pertains to the New England region of North America in the United States. New England is the oldest clearly defined region of the United States, and it predates the American Revolution by more than 150 years. The English Pilgrims were Puritans fleeing religious persecution in England who established Plymouth Colony in 1620, the first colony in New England and second in America. A large influx of Puritans populated the greater region during the Puritan migration to New England (1620–1640), largely in the Boston and Salem area. Farming, fishing, and lumbering prospered, as did whaling and sea trading.
Massachusetts was first colonized by principally English Europeans in the early 17th century, and became the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the 18th century. Prior to English colonization of the area, it was inhabited by a variety of mainly Algonquian language indigenous tribes. The first permanent English settlement in New England came in 1620 with the founding of Plymouth Colony by the Pilgrims who sailed on the Mayflower. It set precedents but never grew large. A large-scale Puritan migration began in 1630 with the establishment of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and spawned the settlement of other New England colonies. Friction with the natives erupted in the high-casualty King Philip's War in the 1670s. Puritanism was the established religion and was strictly enforced; dissenters were exiled. The Colony clashed with Anglican opponents in England over its religious intolerance and the status of its charter. Most people were farmers. Businessmen established wide-ranging trade links, sending ships to the West Indies and Europe, and sometimes shipping goods in violation of the Navigation Acts. These political and trade issues led to the revocation of the Massachusetts charter in 1684.
William Tailer was a military officer and politician in the Province of Massachusetts Bay. Born into the wealthy and influential Stoughton family, he twice married into other politically powerful families. He served as lieutenant governor of the province from 1711 until 1716, and again in the early 1730s. During each of these times he was briefly acting governor. He was a political opponent of Governor Joseph Dudley, and was a supporter of a land bank proposal intended to address the province's currency problems. During his first tenure as acting governor he authorized the erection of Boston Light, the earliest lighthouse in what is now the United States.
John Easton (1624–1705) was a political leader in the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, devoting decades to public service before eventually becoming governor of the colony. Born in Hampshire, England, he sailed to New England with his widowed father and older brother, settling in Ipswich and Newbury in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. As a supporter of the dissident ministers John Wheelwright and Anne Hutchinson during the Antinomian Controversy, his father was exiled, and settled in Portsmouth on Aquidneck Island with many other Hutchinson supporters. Here there was discord among the leaders of the settlement, and his father followed William Coddington to the south end of the island where they established the town of Newport. The younger Easton remained in Newport the remainder of his life, where he became involved in civil affairs before the age of 30.
The New England Colonies of English and later British America included Connecticut Colony, the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Massachusetts Bay Colony, and the Province of New Hampshire, as well as a few smaller short-lived colonies. The New England colonies were part of the Thirteen Colonies and eventually became five of the six states in New England. Captain John Smith's 1616 work A Description of New England first applied the term "New England" to the coastal lands from Long Island Sound to Newfoundland.
The 1689 Boston revolt was a popular uprising on April 18, 1689 against the rule of Sir Edmund Andros, the governor of the Dominion of New England. A well-organized "mob" of provincial militia and citizens formed in the town of Boston, the capital of the dominion, and arrested dominion officials. Members of the Church of England were also taken into custody if they were believed to sympathize with the administration of the dominion. Neither faction sustained casualties during the revolt. Leaders of the former Massachusetts Bay Colony then reclaimed control of the government. In other colonies, members of governments displaced by the dominion were returned to power.