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Map of the Massachusetts Bay Colony


The Massachusetts Bay Colony was an English settlement that was created on the east coast of North America in the 17th century. Massachusetts is considered the heart of New England. New England was the first region to be created as well as being one of most well known regions in America. Massachusetts was one of the first thirteen colonies; it is considered the heart of New England due to its people, customs, state size as well as diversity. It is considered the economic center of New England. When the colony was first created, it became the center of religious views. The colony was founded by the owners of the Massachusetts Bay Company. This originally included the investors of the failed Dorchester Company. This company started the first attempt at creating a settlement on Cape Ann in 1624; this resulted in failure, while the second attempt, which started in 1628, was successful, with about 20,000 people moving to the newly created New England, mostly in the 1630's. John Winthrop established the Massachusetts Bay colony in 1630. Winthrop was responsible for leading the first wave of migrants into the newly discovered area; he became the first governor of Massachusetts and served for twelve years. Winthrop was a wealthy and very powerful and well known political figure. He helped make Massachusetts one of the most important of all colonies and helped create the foundation of the Massachusetts government today, as well as set Massachusetts as the precedent for all other colonies, and later on states. Most of Massachusetts’s population was strongly Puritan, a strictly religious group of people, governed by a small group of leaders who believed in everything God had decreed. The colony was founded on the base of religious freedom; the Puritans left England to practice their religion without being prosecuted. The Puritans were banned from England for their religious views,Massachusetts was a way to create a new land in which the people could practice their very strict, and harsh religion at some points. In 1692, Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Colony united to form the state of Massachusetts. (Colonial Ancestors, 2007) (Soylent Communications, 2011).
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John Winthrop, founder of Massachusetts Bay Colony.






Pilgrims are the early settlers and creators of the Plymouth Colony in present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts. The Pilgrim's leadership came from the religious congregations of English settlers who had fled the volatile and harsh political environment of England. Concerned with losing their cultural identity, the group worked out a deal with English investors to establish a new colony in North America where they could practice religion freely. The Pilgrims helped create one of the most important and one of the first states in the United States through the want of religious freeom. The Pilgrims left for their newly founded colony on board the Mayflower, 121 passengers made the voyage over seas. The Pilgrims who had made the trip over, were separatists, they wanted to branch off of the old ways, of the old church in England and create a new one in their own image. These Pilgrims believed in a separation from everything that they opposed something that didn't fit in with their beliefs of God and what he had done for them, or wanted them to do. These separatists were the reason for the creation of Massachusetts and most of the beginning colonies and settlements. The Great Migration was the time period usually beginning in 1620 and ending in 1640. It marks the arrival of the Mayflower and the Pilgrims leaving England in search of a new land. The year 1620, is the year the Separatists created Plymouth Colony, these people were the most extreme of the Puritans, the originals to leave England. While more moderate Puritans only wanted to purify and reform the Church of England, the Separatists severed and cut all ties to it. The Separatists left England to travel to the city of Leiden in Holland to escape persecution in 1609. After ten years in Holland, they were eager to establish a colony of their own. With the help of London merchants, they were able to secure a land patent in the New World. The peak years of the Great Migration lasted just over ten years, from 1629 to 1640, the years when the Puritan population left England at its fullest height. When King Charles I dissolved Parliament of any Puritan members, it allowed for the Puritans to be prosecuted, to escape this, most Puritans migrated to the newly created colonies of The Massachusetts Bay Colony and Plymouth Colony. In the next ten years that followed, over twenty thousand men, women, and children left England to settle permanently in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In 1640, when Parliament was recreated, attention was lost to the New World, instead it focused on the old ways, and thus the Great Migration to New England dropped sharply. (Colonial Ancestors, 2007) (Betlock, 2011)

The Ancient Greeks practiced a form of government called Democracy; this form of politics allows the people in the society to choose what goes in a voting system. There needs to be some sort of unison among all of the voters or signers. This is very similar to the Puritans way of government when they originally signed the Mayflower Compact. The men aboard the Mayflower ship agreed to and signed the document to create laws and rules for all to be equal and as well as respectful to God. These earl Pilgrims took the first step towards Democracy in America when they arrived in the year 1620. The Puritans agreed on this set of laws that would help govern their colony; it stated the government would have just laws and equal fairness to all colonists, with their proper consent. The Mayflower Compact became the first governing document in Plymouth Colony; it took the ideas of the Greeks and helped flourish them in the colony. The Greeks' idea of Democracy was expanded upon and became better with the help of the colonists, it helped create the government America now has. In order for a document or rule to pass in Ancient Greece, the people had to vote and sign on it in a majority. During the Puritans' town meetings, the men would have to agree on a majority to sign or pass the law. This occurred for the Mayflower Compact, it was signed into place on November 11, 1620 by at least forty-one of the Mayflower's passengers. It became one of the earliest forms of Democracy in America that was later on established as the present-day government of the United States. (Loflin, 2011)

The Half-Way Covenant was a different part of the church membership created by New England in 1662. It was in high opinion of certain individuals such as Reverend Solmon Stoddard. He felt that the people of the English colonies were drifting away from their original religious purpose. First-generation settlers were beginning to die out, while their children and grandchildren expressed different religious interests, less love and respect for their own religion; these new settlers had a desire for material wealth. Full membership in the taxed Puritan church required an account of a conversion experience, a reason the individual should be allowed membership, something religious in his life. An individual with full membership could have his children baptized. Second and third generations, and later immigrants, did not have the same conversion experiences. Instead, these individuals were not accepted as members even though they already had religious and fair lives. In response, the Half-Way Covenant provided a partial church membership for the children and grandchildren of church members. Those individuals who accepted the Covenant were allowed to participate in the Lord's Supper, only once they agreed to the creed. Puritan preachers hoped that this new plan would keep some of the church's influence in society, and would allow for new half-way members to see the benefits of being a full member and they would want to be born again in order to experience the full membership. Most of the religious members of the Puritan society rejected this plan because it did not apply to the Church's guidelines. They felt the new members would be taking the short way out. (2010)



When the Pilgrims finally made it to their newly created settlement, Plymouth, there was some concern of the natives in the area. The Pilgrims developed a friendly relationship with the local Wampanoag Indians. Before any European settlers came, Massachusetts was inhabited by native tribes such as the Wampanoag’s, Narragansett, Nipmuc, Pocomtuc, Mahican and Massachusett. Most of these tribes now have a special place throughout Massachusetts history. The state was named after the Massachusett tribe while other tribes have towns named after them and other important features in the state. These early natives provided no threat to the Massachusetts colony to start, there were good relations among most of the tribes. The settlers had various trades with the Indians until a disagreement on land occurred. Both sides were able to work it out and the land was divided without violence. The natives were able to teach cultivation of crops like corn and squash to the settlers, they also showed various fishing techniques. Fishing has become one of the biggest industries in Massachusetts due to what the natives had early on taught the settlers. Up until the French and Indian War, Massachusetts had avoided almost all major fighting with the natives with exception of the Pequot War and King Philips's war. The colonists’ initial relationships with the local natives were strong, but eventually tensions rose over cultural differences. These tensions led first to the Pequot War (1636-1638) and then later, the infamous King Philip's War (1675-1676). King Philip's War, also known as Metacom's War was the eastern Indians' attack on white settlers in New England. The Indians were looking to regain their lost land from the settlers and cleanse the sacred land of all whites. In order to deal with this, Metacom forged an alliance with the Narrgansetts and Nipmucks in 1675 to combat the whites. For the next year or so, the Indians attacked white settlements throughout most of New England, including parts of Massachusetts (such as the Touisett area in Swansea). The settlers lost about half of their towns to the Indians' savage attacks, over forty towns were attacked by the natives. Most of the economy was devasted by the natives, trade was ruined and the population drastically decreased. But the settlers would recover. The Indians fared far worse from the war, more than 25% of their population had died from disease, and with Metacom's death in 1676, the rebellion and attacked ended. Most of the Indians continued to move further westward and left New England all together. (Henretta, 2010) After the two bloody wars, most of the natives in southern New England had been pacified, killed, or driven away. The colonists had survived both wars and it seemed now that the colony could thrive without hindrance or threat of violence. The colony would soon boom economically. It would become the pride of New England, the economic, political, social and religious heart of New England, as well as America, also due to the natives’ teachings of the land and techniques. (Cybersleuth, 2011)

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The Wampanoag Tribe of Indians


Sir Edmund Andros was an English governor in North America from 1674-1683, he was also the head of the Dominion of New England. Andros was very unpopular in New England, primarily Massachusetts. Puritans opposed most of what he did or stood for, it went against their beliefs. In 1686 he was appointed governor of the Dominion of New England. He arrived in Boston in December of 1686, and immediately he assumed the reins of power. The Dominion of New England in America (1686–89) was an administrative union of English colonies in the New England region of North America. The dominion was a complete failure due to the huge area it covered. It stretched from the Delaware River up to Penobscot Bay. One single man could not govern this huge land, he became very unpopular in the area, and his actions often offended the Puritan population in Massachusetts. In 1688, Bostonians rose up in the Glorious Revolution to go against Andros, calling him a tyrant; they arrested him in May of 1689. With him out of commission, the colonies reverted into their previous customs and governments, The Dominion initially consisted of the territories of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Plymouth Colony, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Hampshire. It also extended to New York and New Jersey. (Webified Development, 2009)
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Sir Edmund Andros, founder of the Dominion of New England




By the end of the 17th century, the British had founded and established blooming new colonial settlements along the Atlantic Coast in the New England region and in the Chesapeake Bay region. During the same time, France established new small communities along the St. Lawrence River and had claimed the entire Mississippi River Valley. These North American colonies became part of an intense rivalry between Great Britain and France. Each country tried to outdo the other, trying for advantages in economic, political and military aspects. Tensions arose before the start of the French and Indian War due to fur trades. Normally natives and the French worked hand in hand in trapping and skinning animals. White traders and the natives normally traded furs for guns, food and blankets. Competition grew when the British and colonists started trying to acquire furs as well for their own trades, rather than work with the natives; they tried to oppose the natives. One thing led to another before war broke out among the French and natives versus the British and American colonists. Before the start and during the French and Indian War (1754-1763), Governor William Shirley was the leader of Massachusetts Bay Colony. The colony was still looking to expand economically and still practice religious freedom. Shirley was a strong believer in the opinion that if natives remained in the colonies, the colonists were never safe. His goal was to remove all natives from the colonies.Massachusetts, like most of the rest of the colonies had uneasy tensions with the French and natives.Massachusetts had been attacked by both 50 years earlier in Deerfield, but tensions were still very high and both sides were not close to friendship. Governor Shirley was made temporary commander-in-chief of North American forces in 1755. Shirley was a poor leader during the war; both 1755 and 1756 were failures for the governor. He led an expedition to take Fort Niagara but never made it past Fort Oswego near Lake Ontario. He was extremely disorganized and left insufficient supplies in his forts. In March 1756, he was replaced as commander-in-chief and was ordered back to England, he had let his army and colony down in his two years as commander. His failure to fortify the fort resulted in the French capturing Fort Oswego in August 1756. (FortTourSystems, 2011) (Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia, 2001)
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Governor William Shirley


Massachusetts was the first slave-holding colony in New England, it was the first colony to actively hold and use slaves. Slavery is said to have predated the settlement of Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1629, the estimated years of 1624-1629 for the first slaves. Samuel Maverick, who was New England's first slaveholder; arrived in Massachusetts in 1624 and owned two Negroes before governor, John Winthrop, arrived in the colony in 1630. The break-up of the monopolies and the defeat of the Dutch allowed for New England's new aggressive pursuit of the slave trade in the early 1700s. At the same time, the expansion of New England industries created a shortage of labor, slaves now filled this. Massachusetts had fewer than 200 slaves in 1676 and around 550 in 1708. The Massachusetts slave population jumped to about 2,000 in 1715. It reached its largest percentage of the total population between 1755 and 1764, when it stood at around 2.2 percent. The slaves were mainly concentrated in the industrial and seaside towns, but Boston was about 10 percent black in 1752. A Massachusetts law of 1641 linked slavery to the Bible, it also established a set of rules for slaves "which the law of God, established in Israel concerning such people, doth morally require." Nonetheless, because of its Scriptural foundation, Massachusetts' felt its slaves, in some ways were more progressive than those of other colonies. Massachusetts never had a very large slave population at any point in its history; this is due to a few reasons. Primarily the Massachusetts region is not fit for farming in some parts, so it would be difficult to create large farming plantations with large numbers of slaves. Secondly, Massachusetts was home to the Puritans whose strict and harsh set of regulations did not usually allow slaves to be part of the society, they felt the blacks should not be slaves and tried to use them as little as possible. Thirdly, Massachusetts was not home to large numbers of black populations like the Southern colonies were; Massachusetts was more industry than agricultural. (Harper, 2003)

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The Mayflower Compact

Team of Coop and Mike M
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