Massachus'etts, one of the New England states of the American Union, is bounded E. by Massachusetts Bay, from which the state derives its familiar name of the Bay State. It is irregular in outline, its greatest length being about 182 and its average breadth 47 1/2 miles ; and it has an area of about 8815 sq. m. - larger than Wales. The surface is uneven, varying from low plains, near the Atlantic sea-coast, containing numerous small lakes, to a rolling country in the interior, becoming mountainous towards the western boundary. The highest of the peaks, most of them wooded to the summit, is Greylock (3505 feet). The soil is in many portions, particularly in the east, rocky and sterile ; along the river-valleys, however, and in certain other sections it is fertile. The woodland in the state covers over 2100 sq. m. The rivers, while not important for navigation, are the source of valuable water-power which has been utilised in manufacturing ; and in its annual output the state leads all others, except New York and Pennsylvania. The chief manufactures are textiles, boots and shoes, food preparations, building materials, clothing, iron and other metallic goods, leather, wooden wares, rubber goods, paper and wood-pulp, besides cotton, woollen, and worsted goods. There are 2150 miles of railway in the state. The 'commonwealth of Massachusetts' contains fourteen counties and returns 14 members to congress. The state senate consists of 40, the House of Representatives of 240 members. There are in the state two technical institutes and twelve colleges and universities, the latter including Harvard, Williams College, Amherst College, and Boston University and College. The leading cities are Boston, Worcester, Springfield, Holyoke, Fall River, Lowell, Lawrence, Lynn, Haverhill, Brockton, Salem, New Bedford, Taunton, Gloucester, Cambridge, the seat of Harvard University. Pop. (1800) 422,845; (1850) 994,514; (1880) 1,783,085; (1900) 2,805,000.
The coast Is supposed to have been visited by Northmen about 1000 a.d., but the first permanent settlement was made at Plymouth, near Cape Cod, by the Pilgrim Fathers, December 22, 1620. In 1628 a company of Puritans settled at Salem upon the coast farther north, and, together with settlements at Boston, Lynn, and elsewhere, became the Massachusetts Bay Company. The two colonies were united in 1692. After the War of Independence, begun in Massachusetts in 1776 with the battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill, the colony became one of the original thirteen states of the Union. See J. S. Barry's History of Massachusetts (3 vols. 1855-57).