The land now called Massachusetts has been inhabited for thousands of years by several Indigenous Nations. Settlers from England first arrived with the Mayflower in 1620 and developed contact with the Wampanoag. More settlers arrived and founded Naumkeag, which was later renamed Salem. Throughout the 1600s thousands of settlers arrived, taking land from Indigenous Nations by various means and working to spread their religion, in the belief that it was their mission to convert Indigenous people to Christianity. The Massachusetts Bay Colony as we know it legally (from the British/settler perspective) began in 1630, with the landing of Governor Winthrop aboard the Arabella. The name Massachusetts comes from the Algonquian language, meaning “at the large hill” referencing the Blue Hills.

Image Description: The Flag is a Red rectangle, with a white rectangle in the upper left corner, with a red Saint George's Cross in it.
The English Red Ensign of 1620, which was used as the first Colonial Flag of Massachusetts Bay.

Did You Know?

“Map reproduction courtesy of the Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center at the Boston Public Library”

Throughout the 1760s and 1770s, the Massachusetts colony was a hotbed of conflict with England.  Clashes over taxes, the presence of the British military, interference with the colony’s charter and government, increased tensions between the colony and the homeland. In Virtual Americana’s first historic series on the American Revolution, we break down the history of the conflict in Massachusetts into three main sections, with two supplemental articles describing the impact of individuals often left out of history books.

Unrest and Anger

Colonial Rebellion: The Battle of Lexington and Concord, and its Aftermath

The Siege of Boston

American Revolution and Soldiers of Color from Massachusetts

Revolutionary Women (coming soon)