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The Bay State - ratified Constitution 6 Feb 1788

Massachusetts, officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island to the south, New Hampshire and Vermont to the north and New York to the west. The state is named after the Massachusett tribe, which once inhabited the east side of the area, and is one of the original thirteen states. The capital of Massachusetts is Boston, which is also the most populous city in New England. Over 80% of Massachusetts's population lives in the Greater Boston metropolitan area, a region influential upon American history, academia and industry. Originally dependent on agriculture, fishing and trade, Massachusetts was transformed into a manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution. During the 20th century, Massachusetts's economy shifted from manufacturing to services. Modern Massachusetts is a global leader in biotechnology, engineering, higher education, finance and maritime trade.

Geographical type: Territory

Latitude: 42.3° N — Longitude: 71.8° W

Area: 27,336 km²

ISO 3166-2 code: US-MA

Notable Places

Birthplace of

John Adams, in Braintree, on 30 Oct 1735
Samuel Adams, in Boston, on 27 Sep 1722
Stephen Pearl Andrews, in Templeton, on 22 Mar 1812
George H. W. Bush, George Herbert Walker Bush, in Milton, on 12 Jun 1924
Ed Clark, Edward Emerson Clark, in Middleborough, on 4 May 1930
Ralph Waldo Emerson, in Boston, on 25 May 1803
Benjamin Franklin, in Boston, on 17 Jan 1706
William Lloyd Garrison, in Newburyport, on 10 Dec 1805
John Hancock, in Braintree (Quincy), on 12 Jan 1737
Penn Jillette, Penn Fraser Jillette, in Greenfield, on 5 Mar 1955
John F. Kennedy, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, in Brookline, on 29 May 1917
Denis Leary, in Worcester, on 18 Aug 1957
Edmund A. Opitz, in Worcester, on 11 Feb 1914
James Otis, James Otis Jr., in Barnstable, on 5 Feb 1725
Lew Rockwell, Llewellyn Harrison Rockwell Jr., in Boston, on 1 Jul 1944
Kurt Russell, in Springfield, on 17 Mar 1951
Lysander Spooner, in Athol, on 19 Jan 1808
Benjamin Tucker, Benjamin Ricketson Tucker, in South Dartmouth, on 17 Apr 1854
Josiah Warren, in Boston, on 1798

Events of Interest

Plymouth colonists, Landing at Plymouth, in Plymouth, on 21 Dec 1620
Sons of Liberty, Boston Tea Party, in Boston Harbor, on 16 Dec 1773

Deathplace of

John Adams, in Quincy, on 4 Jul 1826
Samuel Adams, in Boston, on 2 Oct 1803
John Hancock, in Quincy, on 8 Oct 1793
Robert Nozick, in Cambridge, on 23 Jan 2002
Edmund A. Opitz, in Centerville, on 13 Feb 2006
James Otis, in Andover, on 23 May 1783
Gene Sharp, in Boston, on 28 Jan 2018
Lysander Spooner, in Boston, on 14 May 1887
Josiah Warren, in Charlestown, on 14 Apr 1874
Daniel Webster, in Marshfield, on 24 Oct 1852

Measures of Freedom

Freedom in the 50 States 2015-2016 | Massachusetts | Cato Institute
2014: Overall rank: 33, fiscal policy rank: 36, regulatory policy rank: 39, personal freedom rank: 11, economic freedom rank: 35
LP State-by-State Membership Numbers [PDF], Libertarian Party News, Apr 2006
31 Dec 2005: Number of Members: 386


The Acton-Lee Correspondence, by John Dalberg-Acton, 4 Nov 1866
Exchange of letters between Lord Acton (4 Nov) and Robert E. Lee (15 Dec 1866)
The assertion of this right [of secession] has been repeatedly made by [New England] politicians when their party was weak, and Massachusetts, the leading state in hostility to the South, declares in the preamble to her constitution, that the people of that commonwealth "have the sole and exclusive right of governing themselves as a free sovereign and independent state, and do, and forever hereafter shall, exercise and enjoy every power, jurisdiction, and right which is not, or may hereafter be by them expressly delegated to the United States of America in congress assembled." ... R. E. Lee
Benjamin Franklin: The Man Who Invented the American Dream, by Jim Powell, The Freeman, Apr 1997
Lengthy biographical essay, including a section on the posthumous publication and reaction to Franklin's Autobiography
Somehow, Franklin got his hands on six explosive letters by Massachusetts governor Thomas Hutchinson. In one, drafted after the Stamp Act crisis, Hutchinson had written: "There must be an abridgment of what are called English liberties ... there must be a great restraint of natural liberty." On December 2, 1772, Franklin secretly sent them to Thomas Cushing, Speaker of the Massachusetts Assembly, asking that they be kept confidential. But Samuel Adams broke the news, and the letters were published. The Massachusetts Assembly petitioned George III to remove Hutchinson as governor.
Empire or Liberty: The Antifederalists and Foreign Policy, 1787-1788 [PDF], by Jonathan Marshall, The Journal of Libertarian Studies, 1980
Describes the arguments regarding foreign policy made during the period of ratification of the United States Constitution by the Federalists and the counterarguments, "largely ignored" by historians, from the Antifederalists
"John De Witt," writing to the citizens of Massachusetts, highlighted the implausibility of Federalist claims in his caricature of their position. "Our ... debts will be as a feather," he wrote; "... in short, if we STAND STILL, our country, notwithstanding, will be like the blessed Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey." ... "I had rather be a free citizen of the small republic of Massachusetts than an oppressed subject of the great American empire," declared one Boston polemicist ... Winthrop put it more concretely, "It is impossible for one code of laws to suit Georgia and Massachusetts."
Henry David Thoreau: Founding Father of American Libertarian Thought, by Jeff Riggenbach, 15 Jul 2010
Biographical essay, transcript of "The Libertarian Tradition" podcast of 8 July 2010
[Thoreau's] contempt for the state government of Massachusetts grew as well. In an effort to block local cooperation with the new federal [fugitive slave law of 1850], Massachusetts had adopted an ordinance of its own officially denying state officials the authority to "detain or aid in the ... detention," anywhere within the state, "of any person, for the reason that he is claimed as a fugitive slave." But in 1851 and again in 1854, black citizens of Massachusetts were arrested and returned to their "owners," and the state government did nothing to prevent this injustice.
Imperium in Imperio, by Frank Chodorov, analysis, Jun 1950
Examines the theory of government espoused by James Madison, how property rights have regressed since then, and arguing that a States' Rights movement (meaning decentralization and local autonomy) should be focused on protecting property rights
It was, indeed, a mass attack on private property that spurred the Founding Fathers in their work and furnished them with ammunition in their fight for ratification. In Massachusetts, a mob of farmers, burdened with mortgages and taxation, had attempted to force the state government to issue fiat money with which they could rid themselves of their obligations. Whether or not their grievances were justifiable, their action was a threat to the principle of private property, to which even these farmers held; they would have been in the forefront of a fight to retain possession of their holdings.
Popular Sovereignty: A Biography of Algernon Sidney, by Jim Powell, The Triumph of Liberty, 4 Jul 2000
Biographical essay
Sidney stayed in Europe, trying to elude the thugs Charles II dispatched to kidnap or kill his political enemies. He visited Copenhagen University and signed the guest book with these explosive words: 'Manus haec inimica tyrannis, Ense petit placidam sub liberate quietem.' Translated, they say: 'This hand, enemy to tyrants, By the word seeks calm peacefulness with liberty.' Sidney's friends were so shocked that they offered to remove the page, but he insisted it remain.... In 1775, Massachusetts took its motto from Sidney's words in the Copenhagen guest book ...
Related Topics: Law, John Locke, Algernon Sidney
The Roots of Individualist Feminism in 19th-Century America, by Wendy McElroy
Introduction to Freedom, Feminism, and the State, a collection of 22 essays edited by McElroy
In a speech before the Massachusetts Legislature on February 21, 1838, whereby Angelina Grimke became the first woman to speak before an American legislative body, she continued to mix the two issues: "Mr. Chairman, it is my privilege to stand before you ... on behalf of the 20,000 women of Massachusetts whose names are enrolled on petitions ... these petitions relate to the great and solemn subject of slavery ... it has often tauntingly been said that women have nothing to do with it. Are we aliens because we are women? Are we bereft of citizenship because we are mothers, wives, and daughters of a mighty people?"


What Would You Do?, 14 May 2008
Interviews with people asking "What would you do with $3600 every year?" (average amount expected from elimination of the Massachusetts income tax)
Related Topic: Taxation

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Massachusetts" as of 2 Nov 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.