Why Is Boston the Capital of Massachusetts?

(Last Updated On: August 27, 2019)
Why Is Boston the Capital of Massachusetts?

The Capital of Massachusetts

Named for the Massachusetts tribe that once inhabited part of the territory, the official name of Massachusetts is the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. With a population of approximately 6.8 million people, the state is the most populous among the Northeastern New England region of the United States. 

Further reading: Why Are Some States a Commonwealth?

Massachusetts is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the East, New Hampshire and Vermont to the North, New York to the West, and Connecticut and Rhode Island to the South. It is one of the original thirteen American colonies, and the history of the state is deeply embedded within the broader ambit of early American history.

Today, approximately 80% of the population lives in or around the capital city of Boston.

The History of Boston

Boston was founded on the Shawmut Peninsula way back in 1630, making it one of America’s oldest and most historically rich city settlements. The first inhabitants were Puritan settlers from England who came to flee religious persecution. 

Boston is both the capital city of the state of Massachusetts and the economic and cultural center of the larger New England area. The city is distinguished for playing a unique cultural and historical role in American history, and as such, is sometimes nicknamed the “Cradle of Liberty” or “The Birthplace of the Revolution”. The city was the site of many important events in the American Revolution, like the Boston Tea Party, the Battle of Bunker Hill, the Boston Massacre, and the Siege of Boston. 

Boston would later distinguish itself as a major manufacturing and shipping hub, eventually becoming one of the world’s wealthiest international ports. Descendants from the wealth generated in old Boston form an elite social class sometimes referred to as the “Boston Brahmins”. 

The city’s demographics were altered in the early 19th century by a wave of Irish immigrants and the Roman Catholic religion that they brought with them. To this day, the Catholic population remains the dominant religious community within the city. Many influential political figures, such as President John F. Kennedy, were offshoots of this Boston Catholic persuasion. 

As the city’s industrial sector began to wane with global shifts in manufacturing demand, Boston gradually reinvented itself as a banking and investment center. Meanwhile, large-scale urban renewal projects brought life back to degraded segments of the city. 

Boston was home to the first public school and the first subway system in the county. Boston residents are informally referred to as “Bostonians”.

Why Is Boston the Capital of Massachusetts?

Being one of the oldest cities in the country, Boston was an intuitive choice for the capital of what was originally known as the Massachusetts Bay Colony. 

It was officially named the capital of the nascent state back in 1632, over a hundred years before Confederation. The city was named after the English hometown of the first deputy-governor of Massachusetts, Thomas Dudley, who was one of many prominent members of the Massachusetts Bay Company to hail from Boston, Lincolnshire.

As one of 21 capital cities to be named during the formative years of New England, Boston was once the capital city of the entire territory. Despite occasional challenges from Springfield to the west of the state, Boston is currently the longest-running state capital in the entire country. That said, Boston was not the first capital of the territory known today as Massachusetts. It was originally predated by Plymouth, which was the capital of Massachusetts back when it was known as Plymouth Colony

Boston Today

Recent estimates put the population of the city proper at 685,094. However, there are about 4.8 million people living in the Greater Metropolitan Area. 

Boston is widely considered a global economic powerhouse, ranking among the top not only in terms of American cities but also across the globe. The Greater Boston Area is one of the top 15 economies on the planet. 

The city continues to attract over 16 million visitors a year due to its rich cultural and historical significance. The city is known for having a high cost of living and a distinguished reputation for educational excellence. The city’s many established elite educational institutions continue to attract millions in revenue and a continual influx of students on an annual basis. 

Today, the city is dealing with problems related to gentrification and racial tension as a result of the continued efforts to transform the city’s poorest neighborhoods into wealthy communities. However, Boston continues to boast one of the country’s highest standards of living and is often ranked as one of the most desirable places to live in America.

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