An Introduction to the Bay State
Massachusetts is truly the heart of New England. It borders every other New England state except for Maine, and even the Maine state line is just a handful of miles away. But geography alone is insufficient to explain the state's vital position. Historically, politically, intellectually, and culturally, Massachusetts has long been at the center of developments not only in the region, but the nation.
Massachusetts, after all, took the lead in forging a separate national identity for the American colonies. From the fiery speeches of the Sons of Liberty at Boston's Faneuil Hall to the Boston Massacre to the Boston Tea Party to the midnight ride of Paul Revere to the Battle of Lexington and Concord that marked the start of war between the colonies and the motherland, Massachusetts ignited the rebellion and bore more than its share of the burden in America's fight for independence.
Some of the nation's greatest thinkers have called the Bay State home: authors Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, social reformers Dorothea Dix who crusaded on behalf of the mentally ill and Horace Mann who lobbied for universal education, beat generation spokesman Jack Kerouac, and popular illustrator Norman Rockwell, who captured enduring images of American life, plus several members of the Adams and Kennedy families who rose to positions of political prominence.
April 19 is the anniversary of the outbreak of the American Revolution at Lexington and Concord. Maine and Massachusetts honor that event with a holiday on the third Monday in April. Patriots' Day is also the day of the annual Boston Marathon(
Travelers will find their own heartbeats quickening as they discover a multitude of historic sites, museums, performing arts centers, scenic byways, beaches, and theme parks. Boston is not only the state capital but also New England's major metropolitan area. It boasts some of the country's finest cultural institutions, museums, and professional sports arenas and more than 100 colleges and universities that keep Massachusetts at the forefront of intellectual debate and scientific discovery. North of Boston, Cape Ann's beaches and eclectic towns and the witchcraft lore of Salem are popular with visitors. The Merrimack Valley is home to the battlefields of Lexington and Concord and the former residences of Massachusetts literary legends. South of Boston, you can explore the state's whaling past and the lives of its first European settlers, the Pilgrims. Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Martha's Vineyard have a flavor all their own; they're the perfect ocean-side antidote to Boston's urban bustle. In the western part of the state, you'll find Springfield, the birthplace of basketball and Dr. Seuss, and college towns such as Amherst and Northampton. The Berkshire Hills are a summer haven for arts lovers, a photo-perfect paradise in autumn, and a winter wonderland for skiers.