On Feb. 6, 1788, Massachusetts became the sixth state to join the Union. The Bay State, as it’s known today, was the stage for both the beginning of the colonization of the New World and the fight for America’s independence from England.
Plymouth Rock and the Early Years
Eager to find a place to live where they could practice their religion without censorship or government involvement, the Puritans, also referred to as the Pilgrims, sailed on the Mayflower and landed near Plymouth Rock. A settlement was established in 1620.
In 1765, Britain enacted the Stamp Act, which taxed the settlers on virtually everything – from business licenses to playing cards and newspapers. It went further and enforced the Townshend Acts of 1767, which taxed pretty much everything else, including glass, paper, paint, lead, and tea.
Anger towards the Crown grew exponentially after the Boston Massacre, which occurred when British soldiers opened fire on colonists who threw snowballs at them. Britain repealed all the taxes except on tea. But rather than pay the tax imposed on their favorite drink, the colonists took to smuggling.
Boston Tea Party
Frustrated with taxation without representation, a group called the Sons of Liberty was formed. Members included such prominent revolutionists as Paul Revere, Patrick Henry, Benedict Arnold, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock.
They protested the arrival of the Dartmouth ship carrying East India Company’s tea to Griffin’s Wharf in Boston. By Dec. 16, 1773, two other ships, Beaver and Eleanor, arrived, also loaded with tea from China. The Sons of Liberty dressed in Native American garb and boarded the ships. They dumped 342 chests of tea into the harbor. The English King was furious over the actions and imposed what was later called the “Intolerable Acts” on the colonists. These series of laws further angered the settlers and, two years later in 1775, the American Revolution began after Paul Revere rode on his horse through Boston to warn the people that the British were coming. April 19, 1775 the Revolutionary War began with the Battles of Lexington and Concord.