Massachusetts Bay Colony

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by csgoul
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Social Studies
American History

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Massachusetts Bay Colony

Massachusetts Bay Colony

The colony was began in 1628 by the Massachusetts Bay Company (then the New England Company). A small group of leaders governed the strongly Puritan population.

Time Line


Salem becomes the nucleus of the Massachusetts Bay Colony

LifeAt first, houses were crude and of wattle and daub. After the first wave of settlers, newcomers found that there was little room in the towns, and had to establish new ones (and were supposed to have a document with Native American approval beforehand). Mortality rates of children and women and during childbirth were high, and disease and starvation threatened early settlers.

LawThe Massachusetts Body of Liberties (1941), compiled by Nathaniel Ward, included 100 civil and criminal laws. Much of the law was based on the bible, and many actions such as smoking, pulling hair, riding behind 2 men, and playing cards were frowned upon and sometimes led to prosecution. Sentences included hanging, fines, and other corporal punishments.

GovermentThe government evolved over time, first consisting of a governor, deputy governor, council of assistants, and court of shareholders ("freemen"). Puritan religious leaders greatly influenced government leaders. The system ended with a governor and deputy governor, in a bicameral legislature with a freemen body, lower house, and some inhabitants authorized to vote; it transformed, in part, to arepresentative democracy.


First large Puritan Migration (900 people) led by John Winthrop




King Phillip's War; Native Americans vs colonists in Massachusetts, Plymouth, and Rhode Island colonies

Elementary schools are required in towns of >50 families

Pequot War (due to Native American resentment; led to formation of the New England Federation)

New Charter Unites Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, and Maine into Massachusetts



Salem Witch Trials

The FamilyRemarriages were frequent but divorce uncommon because it required legal justification. Women were almost completely responsible for caring for children (most of whom received some schooling), while men worked in fields and had responsibility for supporting the family.


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