Massachusetts History Timeline

Important Dates, Events, and Milestones in Massachusetts History

Offers a chronological timeline of important dates, events, and milestones in Massachusetts history.

Massachusetts is mainly inhabited by members of the Algonquin tribes: the Nipmuc, the Pocomtuc, the Pennacook, the Wampanoag, and the Mahican. These groups will later be ravaged by outbreaks of smallpox and other diseases carried by European settlers, as well as by armed conflict with settlers.

Part of the land acquired in the Louisiana Purchase, Arkansas became a separate territory in 1819 and achieved statehood in 1836. A slave state, Arkansas became the ninth state to secede from the union and join the Confederate States of America. Today Arkansas ranks 27th among the 50 states in area, but, except for Louisiana and Hawaii, it is the smallest state west of the Mississippi River. Its neighbors are Missouri to the north, Tennessee and Mississippi to the east, Louisiana to the south, Texas to the southwest and Oklahoma to the west.

17th Century Massachusetts History Timeline

1602 - Bartholomew Gosnold explores coast.

1604 - Samuel de Champlain explores and maps coast.

1606 - James I grants charter to Plymouth Company to colonize Northern Virginia.

1607 - Three ships arrived from England with 104 men and boys. The settlers named the nearby river James, after their king and then settled on a narrow peninsula of the river, and named it Jamestown.

1614 - Capt. John Smith maps coast.

1620 - The Mayflower sailed from Plymouth, England, arriving on the coast of Cape Cod instead of Virginia. After exploring the coast, the ship finally anchored in Plymouth harbor, and the Pilgrims established a settlement.

1621 - The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in Plymouth. This feast, after the first Plymouth harvest, set the model for our current day feast.

1628 - John Endecott founds Puritan settlement in what is now Salem.

1629 - Massachusetts Bay Company chartered.

1630 - In September 1630, Governor John Winthrop and the Massachusetts Bay Colony settlers traveled to the peninsula, known as Shawmut by the Algonquins, and founded Dorchester, the first part of the city of Boston.

1632 - Boston made capital of Massachusetts Bay Colony.

1634 - Boston Common became the first public park in America.

1635 - The first American public secondary school, Boston Latin Grammar School, founded in Boston.

1636 - Harvard College was established in 1636. It was named for after John Harvard of Charlestown, who left half his estate to the new institution upon his death in 1638. Founded in Newtowne (now Cambridge).

1638 - The first American printing press was set up in Cambridge by Stephen Daye.

1639 -

  • The first Post Office in America was Richard Fairbanks' tavern in Boston. In 1939, it was named a repository for overseas mail.
  • The first free American public school, the Mather school, founded in
    Dorchester, a neighborhood of Boston.

1643 -

  • Puritan colonies form New England Confederation to oppose Dutch and
    Indian attacks.
  • The first American ironworks established in Saugus.

1646 - First American Ironworks established in Saugus.

1653 - The first American public library founded in Boston.

1675 - King Philip's War brings Indian attacks on settlers.

1676 - The end of King Philip's War

1684 - Massachusetts charter annulled.

1686 -

  • Dominion of New England established.
  • Oxford became the first non-puritan town

1691 - Massachusetts granted new charter; becomes royal colony including
Maine and Plymouth.

1692 - Witchcraft trials begin in Salem.

1693 - Society of Negroes is founded in Boston, Massachusetts.

18th Century Massachusetts History Timeline

1704 - The first regularly issued American newspaper, The Boston News-Letter,
published in Boston.

1716 - America's first lighthouse, "The Boston Light" was built in Boston Harbor.

1763 - End of Indian Wars in 1763 allows expansion in Western Massachusetts to a total of 184 towns by 1763.

1770 - Tensions aroused from British troops' presence in Boston, culminated in 5 men dying, when troops fired at colonists at the Customs House on March 5.

1773 - Boston Tea Party dumps tea into bay - Colonists at Faneuil Hall, in Boston, oppose taxes.

1775 -

  • The first battle of the American Revolution fought in Lexington and
  • The first ship of the US Navy, the schooner "Hannah", commissioned in

1776 - Colonial troops force British to evacuate Boston.

1780 - State constitution adopted; John Hancock becomes first elected governor.

1785- Daniel Shay led a rebellion by farmers protesting excessive taxes, oppressive governmental systems and unfair laws and treatment of working people.

1788 - Massachusetts is sixth state to ratify the United States Constitution on
Feb. 6, 1788.

1789 - The first American novel, William Hill Brown's The Power of Sympathy,
published in Worcester.

1795 - State House built in Boston.

1796 - John Adams, born 1735 in Quincy, elected 2nd president of United States.

19th Century Massachusetts History Timeline

1806 - The first church built by free blacks in America, the African Meeting House,
opened on Joy Street in Boston.

1820 - Maine separated from Massachusetts.

1822 - Lowell set up as factory town - Boston chartered.

1824 - John Quincy Adams, born 1767 in Quincy, elected 6th president of United States.

1826 - The first American railroad built in Quincy.

1827 - Francis Leiber opened the first swim school in America July 23, 1827. Among the first to enroll was John Quincy Adams.

1831 - The first abolitionist newspaper, The Liberator, published in Boston by
William Lloyd Garrison.

1833 - Constitutional amendment separates church and state; ends Puritanism in

1837 -

  • Samuel Morse invented the electric telegraph based on Morse Code, a simple pattern of "dots" and "dashes."
  • State Board of Education established under leadership of Horace Mann.

1839 - The first vulcanized rubber produced by Charles Goodyear in Woburn.

1840 - The typewriter was invented by Charles Thurber in Worcester.

1845 - The first sewing machine made by Elias Howe in Boston.

1846 - William T.G. Morton, a Boston dentist, first demonstrated the use of anesthesia in surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital, using a specially designed glass inhaler containing an ether-soaked sponge.

1850 - The first National Women's Rights Convention convenes in Worcester.

1861 - America's greatest internal conflict - 3 million fought and 600,000 died in the War Between the States before General Lee surrendered his Confederate Army to General Grant at the village of Appomattox Court House General Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865.

1863 - University of Massachusetts chartered at Amherst.

1865 - Robert Ware, of MIT, began the first professional training program for architects. Prior to this, architects trained in Europe or learned through apprenticeship.

1866 - The first African-American legislators in New England elected to the
General Court.

1875 - The first American Christmas card printed by Louis Prang in Boston.

1876 - The first telephone demonstrated by Alexander Graham Bell in Boston.

1877 - Helen Magill White becomes the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in the US (Boston University)

1881 - The Country Club in Brookline became the first country club in America dedicated to "outdoor pursuits".

1886 - The first transformer demonstrated by William Stanley in Great

1891 -

  • The first basketball game played in Springfield.
  • The Kennedy Biscuit Works (later Nabisco) used a machine invented by James Henry Mitchell to mass- produce the first Fig Newton Cookies and named it for the town of Newton, MA.

1892 - The first successful gasoline-powered automobile perfected by Charles and Frank Duryea in Springfield.

1893 - The first successful gasoline-powered automobile was perfected by Charles and Frank Duryea in Springfield.

1895 - The first volleyball game played in Holyoke.

1896 - The first American public beach established in Revere.

1897 - The first successful American subway system opened in Boston.

20th Century Massachusetts History Timeline

1903 - First Trans-Atlantic Radio Broadcast made by from Marconi Station at Wellfleet when President Theodore Roosevelt and King Edward VII of Great Britain exchanged greetings.

1907 - World's first motorized fire wagon developed by Knox Manufacturing Company.

1912 - Textile workers go on strike in Lawrence

1914 - Canal links Cape Cod Bay with Buzzards Bay.

1920 - Governor Calvin Coolidge elected vice-president; becomes 30th president
of United States in 1923.

1924 - L. Sherman Adams introduced the world's first mutual fund.

1925 - Edith Nourse Rogers (Republican - Massachusetts) was the first woman to serve in the U. S. House of Representatives. She was the longest serving women in House and introduced the GI Bill of Rights among other major initiatives.

1920-27 - Sacco-Vanzetti case gains world attention.

1926 - The first successful liquid fuel rocket launched by Dr. Robert Goddard in

1928 - The first computer, a non-electronic "differential analyzer," developed by Dr. Vannevar Bush of M.I.T. in Cambridge.

1930 -

  • Clarence Birdseye conducted first test of his quick-freezing process, including twenty-six different vegetables, fruits, fish, and meats.
  • Ruth Wakefield invented the first chocolate chip cookie at the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Ma. by adding cut up pieces of chocolate to her butter drop cookies.

1944 - And, not to be outdone by M.I.T., Howard Aiken of Harvard developed the
first automatic digital computer.

1947 -

  • Percy Spencer of Raytheon Corp. invented the microwave oven, the Radarange. The first oven was 750 lb and 5-1/2 feet tall. Today over 200 million microwaves are in use.
  • Edwin Land demonstrates "one-step photography system" - the first Polaroid Land Camera.
  • Dr. Sidney Farber introduced chemotherapy as a treatment for cancer, achieving the first cases of remission of acute childhood leukemia.

1954 - First successful Kidney transplant between twins at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston.

1957 - Massachusetts Turnpike opened.

1960 - John F. Kennedy, born 1917 in Brookline, elected 35th president of United States; assassinated 1963.

1961 - The first nuclear-powered surface vessel, USS Long Beach CG(N) 9,
launched at Quincy.

1966 - Edward W. Brooke is first black elected to United States Senate by popular vote.

1969 - Bolt Beranek & Newman deploys ARPANET, precursor to the Internet.

1971 - Ray Tomlinson of Beranek & Newman sent the first email. The first email message was "QWERTYUIOP" and was sent between two side by side computers connected via ARPANET.

1974 -

  • Federal court orders the integration of Boston public schools
  • Busing program to integrate Boston public schools sparks white boycotts
    and violent demonstrations.

1976 -

  • Boston was the first city in America to celebrate New Year's Eve with a "First Night" event.
  • The Kurzweil Reading Machine is the first successful commercial product to incorporate artificial intelligence to create a print-to-speech reading machine for the blind.

1979 - The first PC-based electronic spreadsheet, VisiCalc is developed by Daniel Brickman.

1980 - Walter Gilbert was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1980 for discovering a technique to decode DNA.

1988 -

  • Governor Michael Dukakis signs bill guaranteeing health insurance to all
    state residents
  • Construction begins on 6-billion-dollar sewage-treatment project
    to clean up Boston Harbor
  • Voters reject proposal to shut down the state's two
    nuclear power plants
  • Dukakis becomes Democratic nominee for president of the United States.

1997 -

  • MassHome™ introduces a comprehensive online directory of web sites
    in Massachusetts.
  • Public acclaim dubs the site as the "unofficial home page for the Commonwealth".

21st Century Massachusetts History Timeline

2001 - ACT, based in Worcester, created human embryo clone

2002 - Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandals made public; resignations and settlements followed

2004 -

  • Same-sex marriage rights approved;
  • Boston Red Sox won World Series;
  • Democratic National Convention held in Boston

2006 - Legislature enacted first plan in U. S. for Massachusetts citizens to receive universal health insurance coverage

2007 -

  • Water leaks in new tunnels of "Big Dig" caused ceiling collapse, killed one;
  • Boston Red Sox won World Series

2009 - Sen. Edward Kennedy died

2010 - Republican Scott Brown elected to seat left vacant by Sen. Kennedy's death

2011 - Boston Bruins won NHL Stanley Cup

2013 - During the Boston Marathon on April 15, two pressure cooker bombs exploded killing 3 people and injuring 264


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