Boston History

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History of Boston, Massachusetts

In 1629, Reverend William Blackstone was the first English immigrant to settle in Boston. At the time it was called “Shawmut.” A year later, John Winthrop and Puritan settlers arrived in Salem, just north of Shawmut. The conditions of Salem were not pleasing to them, so Blackstone invited Winthrop to Shawmut in September of 1630. At this time, Winthrop permanently settled there and renamed it Boston. He also gave his famous sermon saying Boston would be a “city upon a hill,” watched by the world.

The early colonists believed Boston had a special covenant with God. This influenced their way of life. They enforced marriage, church attendance, education in the Word of God and the persecution of sinners. Over the next two centuries, Boston became the center for Puritan life.

The first school in America, Boston Latin School was started in 1635. In 1636, the first college in America, Harvard College, was founded. Education still remains a large part of Boston’s culture.

Boston also had an excellent harbor, causing Boston to become the leading commercial center of the colonies and the primary port of North America.

During the early 1770’s, the colonies were still under British control. Britain attempted to tax the colonies, which caused an uproar in New England. Boston then played the primary role in sparking the American Revolution. The Boston Massacre (1770), The Boston Tea Party (1773) and several of the early battles of the Revolution took place in or near Boston. The city has attempted to preserve its colonial and revolutionary past, which has been a large tourist draw.

After the Revolutionary War, the city became one of the world’s wealthiest trading ports. By the mid 1800’s it also became one of the largest manufacturing centers in the nation. Massachusetts also prospered due to improved roads, new canals, and railways. In 1822 Boston was chartered as a city.

In 1831, William Lloyd Garrison founded The Liberator, an abolitionist newsletter, advocating immediate emancipation of all slaves in the United States. Boston then became the center of the abolitionist movement.

The Great Boston Fire happened in 1872. The fire destroyed about 65 acres of the city, which included 776 buildings.

The population continued to increase and on September 1, 1897, the first subway in North America opened in Boston.

During WWII, Boston suffered with the rest of the nation. By 1950, Boston was slumping. Many factories closed and fishing and farming were also on the decline.

In the 1970s, Boston boomed again. Boston became a leader in the mutual fund industry, health care became an important part of the economy, and many high-tech companies were also founded in the area.

Boston remains to be one of the world’s unique cities. Recently Boston has again become a hub of intellectual, technological and political ideas. In 2004 Boston was the host of the Democratic National Convention and in 2007 the Boston Red Sox won the World Series. In 2008 Boston had an estimated population of 620,535, making it the 21st largest country in the United States. Although the cost of living is high in Boston, it has ranked high in quality of living, ranking 35th worldwide.

Boston History Timeline

1629- Reverend William Blackstone immigrates to Shawmut (Boston) from Europe

1630- John Winthrop and Puritans settle in the area and give it the official name of "Boston"

1635- First school in America, Boston Latin School, is established

1636- First College in America, Harvard College, is started

1770- Boston Massacre

1773- Boston Tea Party

1775- Midnight Ride of Paul Revere

1822- Boston chartered as a city

1831- William Lloyd Garrison founds The Liberator

1872- Great fire of Boston

1897- First subway in North America opens in Boston

1970- Boston economy booms after 30 year downturn

2004- Boston hosts Democratic National Convention

2007- Red Sox win World Series

2008- Population reaches 620,535