Friction With England

In 1651 England began passing legislation, called Navigation Acts, designed to control the commerce of the colonies for the benefit of the mother country. Massachusetts, declaring itself an independent commonwealth, ignored the English laws as far as possible. In 1648 England revoked the Bay Colony charter, and in 1685 it consolidated the New England colonies, New York, and the Jerseys into the Dominion of New England under Sir Edmund Andros as governor.

The Glorious Revolution in England (1688) brought an end to this arrangement. In 1691 Massachusetts was granted a new royal charter, which incorporated Plymouth and Maine into the Bay Colony. The first royal governor, Sir William Phips, arrived at the height of a frenzy that had arisen over witchcraft and initiated the witchcraft trials held in Salem in 1692.

In the intermittent warfare with the French from 1689 to 1760, Massachusetts troops were often the mainstay of the British colonial forces. There was growing resentment against Great Britain, however, as restrictions on colonial trade increased. Massachusetts led in opposition to the Stamp Act (1765) and to the Townshend Acts (1767). British troops were stationed in Boston to maintain order, and this led to the Boston Massacre in 1770.

The Boston Tea Party (1773) led Britain to pass the Intolerable Acts (1774), which closed the port of Boston and deprived Massachusetts citizens of many of their rights. The Revolutionary War started with the action of Massachusetts Minutemen at Lexington and Concord in April, 1775.

Boston in 1775.Boston in 1775. This map shows Boston as it was in 1775. The city occupied a peninsula between the Charles River and the Boston Harbor. Much of the water area has since been filled in. Many famous buildings, including Old North Church, King's Chapel, and Faneuil Hall, still stand.