Massachusetts' first inhabitants were nomadic Indians who lived by fishing and hunting. These people were replaced by Indians from the southwest belonging to the Algonquian language family. They introduced agriculture. Seven tribes occupied the area—Nauset, Nipmuc, Pennacook, Mohegan, Pocumtuc, Wampanoag, and Massachusett. Their first contact with Europeans probably came in the 15th century with sailors fishing in the coastal waters. There were about 30,000 Indians in Massachusetts when European settlement began in the 17th century.

Important dates in Massachusetts
1602 Bartholomew Gosnold, an English explorer, visited the Massachusetts region.
1620 The Pilgrims landed at Plymouth.
1630 The Puritans founded Boston.
1636 Harvard became the first college in the colonies.
1641 Massachusetts adopted its first code of law, the Body of Liberties.
1675-1676 Massachusetts colonists won King Philip's War against the Indians.
1689-1763 Massachusetts colonists helped the British win the French and Indian Wars.
1691 Plymouth and the Massachusetts Bay colonies were combined into one colony.
1764 The colonists began to resist enforcement of British tax laws.
1770 British soldiers killed several colonists in the Boston Massacre.
1773 Patriots dumped British tea into Boston Harbor during the Boston Tea Party.
1775 The American Revolutionary War began at Lexington and Concord.
1780 Massachusetts adopted its constitution.
1788 Massachusetts became the sixth state in the union on February 6.
1797 John Adams of Massachusetts became president of the United States.
1807 The Embargo Act ruined Massachusetts shipping and led to the rise of manufacturing.
1825 John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts became president of the United States.
1912 A strike of textile workers at Lawrence led to improved conditions in the textile industry.
1919 Settlement of the Boston police strike brought national prominence to Governor Calvin Coolidge.
1959 The U.S. Navy launched its first nuclear-powered surface ship, the cruiser Long Beach, at Quincy.
1961 John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts became president of the United States.
1988 Massachusetts celebrated its statehood bicentennial.
2003 In Boston, the underground highway replacing the city's overcrowded Central Artery opened.
2007 Democrat Deval L. Patrick became the first African American governor of Massachusetts.