Massachusetts has been significant throughout American history. Plymouth was the second permanent English settlement in North America. Many of Massachusetts’ towns were founded by colonists from England in the 1620s and 1630s. During the eighteenth century, Boston became known as the “Cradle of Liberty” for the agitation there – Emerson later called it the Shot heard round the world – which led to the American Revolution and the independence of the United States from Great Britain. In the nineteenth century, Massachusetts was the first U.S. state to abolish slavery. Also, it was a center of the temperance movement and abolitionist activity preceding the American Civil War. In 2004, Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legally recognize same-sex marriage. The state has contributed many prominent politicians to national service, including the Adams family and, more recently, the Kennedy family.
Originally dependent on agriculture and trade with Europe, Massachusetts was transformed into a manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution. During the twentieth century the state’s economy shifted from manufacturing to services. Today the state is a leader in higher education, health care, high technology and financial services.