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Massachusetts

Massachusetts, a New England state of North America, one of the original thirteen. It is of irregular shape, having a length of 160 miles, with an average width of fifty; and Massachusetts Bay on the east has 250 miles of coastline. The area is 8,040 square miles. In the south of the bay are the islands Martha's Vineyard (21 miles long by 6 broad, a great summer resort), Nantucket (inhabited by fishermen), and Elizabeth Island. On the coast are low plains with many small lakes; but the interior is undulating, and rises on the western boundary into two ranges, part of the Green Mountains, one of which - the Hoosac range - separates the Connecticut River from the Housatonic Valley, and the Merrimac, which flows 35 miles N.E., while the Taconic range, on the west of the Housatonic Valley, rises in the Saddleback to a height of 3,505 feet. The heights are generally yvell-wooded, and there are in the state nearly half a million acres of wood. While the east is rocky and sterile, along the river valleys and elsewhere the soil is fertile, and agriculture is advanced, though the importance of the manufactures now throws the agriculture into the shade. Granite, sandstone, and marble, are quarried. The rivers give plenty of water-power, and there is much manufacture of cotton, woollens, worsted, boots, shoes, leather, iron, etc. Boston, the great literary centre of the United States, is the sea-port and capital, and there are many other important towns, some of which have specialised industries. At Cambridge is the celebrated Harvard University, and education generally is well advanced in the state. Northmen are said to have founded a colony here, but it was in 1620 that the Pilgrim Fathers landed at Plymouth in the Mayflower, and in 1692 that this settlement united with another, formed by Endicott and his Puritans at Salem in 1628, and that the two became one colony, which retained much of its Puritan character till the 19th century was well advanced. It was in this state that the Revolution began which separated the States from the mother country.