American History and Genealogy Project

State of Massachusetts

Massachusetts, one of the eastern United States, is bounded n. by Vermont and New Hampshire, e. by the Atlantic; s. by the Atlantic, Rhode Island, and Connecticut; and w. by Newark. It lies between 41° 23' and 43° 52' n. lat., and 69° 50' and 73° 10' w. Ion. It is 190 miles long and 90 broad, containing about 7,500 sq. ms., or 4,800,000 acres. The population in 1790 was 388,727; in 1800, 422,845; in 1810, 472,040; in 1820, 523,287; in 1830, 610,408; 1840, 737,699. : these 360,679 were free white males; 368,351 do. females; 4,654 free colored males; 4,015 do. males. Employed in mining, 499; in agriculture, 87,837; in commerce, 8,063; in manufactures d trades, 85,176; navigating the ocean, 27,153; do. rivers, &c, 372; learned professions, 3,804. The capital, and the largest town in New England, is Boston, situated on a small peninsula in Boston Bay

This state is divided into 14 counties, which, with their population in 1840, and capitals, are as follows:

County, Population, Capital

Suffolk, 95,773, Boston Berkshire, 41,745, Lenox
Essex, 94,987, Salem, Newburyport, and Ipswich Bristol, 60,164, New Bedford and Taunton
Middlesex, 3,611, Cambridge, Concord, and Lowell Plymouth, 47,373, Plymouth
Worcester, 95,313, Worcester Barnstable, 32,548, Barnstable
Hampshire, 30,897, Northampton Dukes, 3,958, Edgartown
Hampden, 37,366, Springfield Nantucket, 9,012, Nantucket
Franklin, 23,812, Greenfield Norfolk, 53,140, Dedham

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There are several ranges of mountains, which come from Vermont and New Hampshire, and cross the western part of the state into Connecticut. To the e. of these mountains the country is hilly, except in the southern counties, where it is level and sandy. On the seacoast, the land is generally poor, particularly in the s. e., but by a skillful cultivation, it is made in many parts to produce well. The rest of the state has generally a strong, good soil, well adapted to grazing and to grain. The lands in the valleys of the Connecticut and Housatonic rivers have an excellent soil. In no state in the Union has agriculture been more improved than in Massachusetts. The principal productions are grass, Indian corn, rye, wheat, oats, and Potatoes. Beef, pork, butter, and cheese, of an excellent quality, are extensively produced. Apples are found in great quantities, and are extensively made into cider. Peaches, pears, plums, and cherries are cultivated with success. In 1840 there were in this state, 61,484 horses and mules; 282,574 neat cattle; 378,226 sheep; 143,221 swine; poultry to the amount of $178,157; there were produced 157,923 bushels of wheat; 165,319 of barley; 1,319,630 of oats; 536,014 of rye; 87,000 of buckwheat; 1,809,192 of Indian corn; 941,906 pounds of wool; 254,795 of hops; 5,335,652 bushels of Potatoes; 569,395 tons of hay; 2,432 of hemp and flax; 1,741 pounds of silk cocoons; 579,227 of sugar. The value of the products of the dairy was §2,373,299; of the orchard, $339,177; of lumber, $344,845.

Massachusetts is a great commercial state. The fisheries of the United States are chiefly carried on by her citizens. The principal articles of export are fish, beef, pork, lumber, flax seed, whale oil, spermaceti, and her manufactures. Marble is extensively exported from West Stockbridge, and granite from Quincy.

Her manufactures of cotton cloths, boots and shoes, leather, wrought and cast iron, woolen cloths, straw bonnets, hats, cabinet work, paper, and oil, are extensive. Lowell, which was unknown by name 20 years ago, has become the Manchester of America, and, supported by its manufactures, has become the second place in population in the state. Muskets are extensively manufactured at the national armory in Springfield. In its shipping, Massachusetts is the first state in the Union, and has one third of the whole tonnage of the country.

The state debt at the close of 1840 was $5,149,137.

The climate of this state is favorable to health, and about 1 in 7 of the inhabitants live to 70 year of age. The extremes of temperature are from 20 degrees below to 100 degrees above zero; but such extremes are rare and of short continuance.

The principal rivers are the Connecticut, which has a winding course of 50 miles in this state. Deerfield and Westfield rivers enter it from the west, and Miller's and Chickapee Rivers from the east. The Housatonic rises in Berkshire County, in the western part the state, and flows into the state of Connecticut. The Merrimac has a course of 50 miles in the n. e. part of the state, and enters the ocean at Newburyport. It is navigable for large vessels, 15 miles to Haverhill.

Massachusetts Bay extends from Cape Ann on the n., 40 miles, to Cape Cod on the s., and includes Boston and Cape Cod bays. Buzzard's Bay, on the s. shore of the state, is 30 miles in length Boston harbor is one of the finest in the world, easy of entrance, safe and capacious, and easily and well defended. New Bedford, on Buzzard's bay, has a fine harbor. The other commercial town; are Salem, Newburyport, Gloucester, and Nantucket. The other principal towns are Lowell Plymouth, Worcester, Springfield, Pittsfield, and Northampton.

There are several important islands off the s. shore of Massachusetts. The largest is Nantucket 15 miles long and 11 broad, which of itself constitutes a county of its own name. Martha's Vine yard, to the w. of Nantucket, is 20 miles long, and from 2 to 10 broad. This, with Elizabeth Islands, in Buzzard's bay, and some other small islands, constitutes Dukes County.

The exports of this state in 1840 amounted to $10,186,261, and the imports to $16,513,353.

There were in 1840,241 commercial and 123 commission houses engaged in foreign trade, employing a capital of $13,831,517; and 3,625 retail drygoods and other stores, with a capital o $12,705,038; the lumber trade employed 3,432 persons, and a capital of $1,022,360; internal transportation employed 799 persons, and with 480 butchers, packers, &c, employed a capital of $407,850 the fisheries employed 16,000 persons, and a capital of $11,725,850.

The manufactures of Massachusetts are not less distinguished than its commerce. The value of family and homemade manufactures in 1840 was $231,942; there were 207 fulling mills, and 144 woolen manufactories, employing 5,076 persons, producing goods to the amount of $7,032,893, and employing a capital of $4,179,850; 273 cotton manufactories, with 665,095 spindles, employing 20,923 persons, producing articles to the amount of $16,553,423, and employing a cap. of $17,414,09. 48 furnaces produced 9,332 tons of cast iron, 67 forges, rolling mills, &c, produced 6,004 tons of bar iron, the whole employing 1,097 persons, and a capital of $1,232,875; 82 paper manufactories, employing 967 persons, produced articles to the amount of $1,659,930, and other paper manufactures to the amount of $56,700, and the whole employed a capital of $1,082,800; 463 persons produced salt to the amount of $376,596 bushels, with a capital of $502,980; hats and caps were manufactured to the amount of $918,438, and straw bonnets to the amount of $821,646, the whole employing 6,656 persons, and a capital of $602,292; 355 tanneries employed 2,446 persons, and a capital I of $1,024,699; paints and drugs were produced to the amount of $405,725, and turpentine and varnish to the amount of $25,820; 1,532 saddleries, and other leather manufactories, produced articles to the amount of $10,553,826, and employed a capital of $3,318,544; 4 glass houses, employing 372 persons, produced articles to the amount of $471,000, with a capital of $277,000; 20 potteries, employing 71 persons, produced articles to the amount of $44,450, with a capital of $27,975; 2 sugar refineries produced articles to the amount of $1,025,000; chocolate was manufactured to the amount of $31,500; and confectionery to the amount of $137,300; 14 powder mills employed 69 persons, and produced 2,315,215 pounds of gun-powder, with a capital of $255,000; 913 persons produced machinery to the amount of $926,975; 1,109 persons produced hardware and cutlery to the amount of $1,831,163; 37 distilleries produced 5,177,910 gallons, and 7 breweries produced 429,800 gallons, employing 154 persons, and a capital of $963,100; 397 persons produced 50 cannon and 22,652 small-arms; 1,402 persons produced carriages and wagons to the amount of $803,999, with a capital of §334,660; 274 persons wrought granite and marble to the amount of $217,180; and 758 persons manufactured bricks and lime to the amount of $310,796; mills of various kinds employed 1,803 persons, and manufactured to the amount of $1,771,135, with a capital of $1,440,152; ships were built to the amount of $1,349,994; 51 rope walks employed 672 persons, producing articles to the amount of $832,200, with a capital of $555,100; furniture employed 2,424 persons, producing $1,090,008; 246 persons manufactured musical instruments to the amount of $243,760, with a capital of $555,100; 324 brick and 2,249 wooden houses employed 2,947 persons, and cost $2,767,134. There were 104 priming offices, 72 binderies, 10 daily newspapers, 67 weekly, and 14 semiweekly, and 14 periodicals, the whole employing 922 persons, and a capital of $416,200. The whole amount of capital employed in manufactures was $41,774,446.

Massachusetts has 3 colleges and 2 theological seminaries. Harvard University, at Cambridge, is the oldest and best endowed institution of the kind in the United States, having been founded in 1633, eighteen years after the first tree was felled, and the first log house was erected in the wilderness by the Pilgrim Fathers of New England. Williams College, at Williamstown, in the n. e. corner of the state, was founded in 1793, and is a flourishing institution. Amherst College was founded in 1821, and has had an unexampled growth, ranking with the first colleges in New England. The Theological Seminary, at Andover, is the best endowed and one of the most flourishing institutions of the kind in the United States, and is under the direction of the Congregationalists. The Baptists, also, have a flourishing theological institution at Newton. All these institutions had, in 1840, 769 students. There were in the state, 251 academies and grammar schools, with 6,746 students; 3,362 primary and common schools, with 160,257 scholars. There were 4,448 persons over 20 years of age who could neither read nor write. These, as is the case in most of the states, are principally made up of foreign immigrants.

The principal religious denominations are the Congregationalists, the Baptists, the Methodists, the Episcopalians, and the Universalists. In 1836, the Orthodox Congregationalists had about 350 churches, 320 ministers, and 50,000 communicants. The Unitarians had about 120 ministers; the Baptists had 129 churches, 160 ministers, and 20,200 communicants. The Episcopalians had 1 bishop and 37 ministers; the Universalists had 100 congregations and 44 ministers. Besides these, here are a few Presbyterians, Christians, Roman Catholics, and Friends, and some others.

In November, 1839, Massachusetts had 118 banks, with an aggregate capital of $34,485,600, and a circulation of $7,875,322.

This state has a penitentiary at Charlestown.

Massachusetts has been fully awake to the subject of internal improvement. The Middlesex canal, connecting the Merrimac River, 2 miles above Lowell, with Boston harbor at Charlestown, 27 miles long, and was completed in 1808, at a cost of $528,000. This was the first canal, of any considerable length, attempted in the United States. The Hampshire and Hampden canal continues the Farmington canal from the n. line of Connecticut, 22 miles, to Northampton, making the whole length of the canal from New Haven 76 miles. Blackstone canal, 45 miles long, connects Worcester with Providence, R. I., and was completed in 1823, at a cost of $630,000. Quincy railed, completed in 1827, for the transportation of granite from the quarry, 3 miles, to Neponset River, was the first work of the kind in the United States; so late has been this species of improvement. The rails are of timber, faced with iron. Boston and Lowell railroad is 25 miles long, with a branch from Wilmington to Haverhill, 18 miles, and is extended to Dover, N. H. From Lowell, the road continued, 15 miles, to Nashua, and thence to Concord, N. H. From Haverhill the road is continued through New Hampshire to Maine. The Eastern railroad extends, 33 miles, from Boston to Newburyport, and is extended to Portsmouth, N. H., and thence to Portland, Me. Boston and Providence railroad was incorporated in 1831, and opened in 1835, is 42 miles long, with a branch of 2 miles to Dedham, and another of 11 miles to Taunton, which, under the name of the Old Colony railroad, is continued to New Bedford. The Worcester railroad, 43 miles, constitutes a section of the great Western railroad, which is extended to Albany. The Worcester and Norwich railroad extends 59 miles, and connects with a steamboat navigation to the city of New York.

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The government of Massachusetts consists of a governor, lieutenant-governor, senators, and representatives, chosen annually by the people, and they meet annually at Boston, on the first Wednesday of January. The senate consists of 40 members, chosen by districts. From these, a council of 9 members is elected, by joint ballot of the legislature. By a modification of the constitution in 1837, it was ordained that every town having 300 ratable polls at the last preceding decennial census of polls, may elect 1 representative; and for every 450 more, one additional representative. In towns of less than 300 polls, multiply the polls of the last census by 10, and divide by 300, and the quotient will show the number of years in the decennial period that they shall be allowed to send a representative. Where there is a surplus of polls over a sufficiency for one or more representatives, multiply the surplus by 10, and divide by 450, and the quotient will show how many years of the decennial period they shall be allowed an additional representative.

The Plymouth colony was first settled by the Puritans, who landed in Plymouth in December, 1620. In 1628 the foundation of the Massachusetts colony was laid by the settlement of Salem and Charlestown, and in 1630, of Boston. In 1692, these colonies were united, and have so continued ever since, under the name of Massachusetts. The American Revolution began at Boston and in the vicinity, and this state bore a prominent part in that memorable struggle. The first regular battle, that of Breed's Hill, commonly called Bunker Hill, in Charlestown, was fought on the 17th of June, 1775. On the 17th of March, 1776, the British were compelled to evacuate Boston. In 1780, a convention of delegates formed the present state constitution. This was revised, with some modifications, in 1820. In 1783, slavery was abolished by law. In 1786, a serious disturbance took place, denominated Shay's rebellion, which was, after some time, quelled. This state voted in convention, February 6th, 1788, to adopt the constitution of the United States: yeas 187, nays 168; majority 19.

Table of Contents

Source: A Complete Descriptive And Statistical Gazetteer Of The United States Of America, By Daniel Haskel, A. M and J. Calvin Smith, Published By Sherman & Smith, 1843

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