98 SCHOOLS in MASSACHUSETTS
Massachusetts is the seventh-smallest state in the union, but its influence over the history of the US has far outweighed its size. The area around Plymouth, MA, was explored by John Smith, founder of the first successful English colony in Virginia, and the region that would be called Massachusetts (for the Massachusett Indians) was selected for the second British colony – a group of separatist Puritans who sailed to the New World to complete the work of Reformation they believe the Church of England had abandoned. They found the Native Americans of the area all but wiped out by plague, and more settlements spread to Massachusetts Bay and elsewhere, as colonists unsatisfied with the Puritans’ utopian religious plan defected to places like Rhode Island and Connecticut. Massachusetts, particularly Boston, was at the heart of the American Revolution, with leaders such as John Hancock and John Adams, while the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party stoked the desire for independence. Throughout the 19th century, Massachusetts remained a bastion of progressive thinking and action, leading abolitionism, women’s rights, and public education.
Over the course of its history, Massachusetts has reflected, and often led, each major shift in the American economy, first as a center of agriculture and trade, thanks to its fertile land and well-established ports. And every step of the way, Massachusetts has been led by some of the world’s most prestigious colleges and universities. While the state was still, like most of the US, based on sustenance farming, Massachusetts established some of the nation’s first colleges, including the first, Harvard University. It was this strong foundation of excellent higher education that helped make Massachusetts a leader of the American Revolution, while a strong middle class of merchants and craftsmen – fueled by Boston’s trade – made the fight for equality and an end to nobility possible. In the 19th century, as the Industrial Revolution reached the young US, Massachusetts was led by this solid base, and by two land-grant research institutions, MIT and the University of Massachusetts. And in the 20th century, Massachusetts has built on its history and heritage to become one of the nation’s wealthiest and most innovative states, steeped in technology, finance, healthcare, and entrepreneurship.
Massachusetts has made its mark on the United States and the world through smarts, hard work, and education, and higher education has been built into the commonwealth’s philosophy and worldview. Massachusetts is home to some of the oldest higher education institutions in the nation – not only Harvard, the very first American university, but pioneering liberal arts colleges like Williams and Amherst, and some of the world’s first, most influential women’s colleges, like Mount Holyoke, Wellesley, and Smith – part of the legendary Seven Sisters. Educational innovation has been Massachusetts’ calling card for nearly 400 years, and the 21st century is only beginning.