Plymouth was the site of the first colony in New England, founded in 1620 by the Pilgrims, passengers of the Mayflower. In 1692, the town of Salem and surrounding areas experienced one of America’s most infamous cases of mass hysteria, the Salem witch trials. In 1786, Shays’ Rebellion, a populist revolt led by disaffected American Revolutionary War veterans, influenced the United States Constitutional Convention. In the 18th century, the Protestant First Great Awakening, which swept the Atlantic World, originated from the pulpit of Northampton preacher Jonathan Edwards. In the late 18th century, Boston became known as the “Cradle of Liberty” for the agitation there that led to the American Revolution.
The first English settlers in Massachusetts, the Pilgrims, arrived via the Mayflower at Plymouth in 1620, and developed friendly relations with the native Wampanoag people. This was the second successful permanent English colony in the part of North America that later became the United States, after the Jamestown Colony. The event known as the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World which lasted for three days.
Massachusetts was a center of the movement for independence from Great Britain; colonists in Massachusetts had long uneasy relations with the British monarchy, including open rebellion under the Dominion of New England in the 1680s. Protests against British attempts to tax the colonies after the French and Indian War ended in 1763 led to the Boston Massacre in 1770, and the 1773 Boston Tea Party escalated tensions. The Battles of Lexington and Concord initiated the American Revolutionary War and were fought in the eponymous Massachusetts towns.