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Massachusetts Colony

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Portrait of John Winthrop, Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony

Portrait of John Winthrop, Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony

Public Domain / Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography, v. 6, 1889, facing p. 572.

Year Massachusetts Colony Founded:

1630

Founded By:

John Winthrop, Thomas Dudley, and other non-separatist Puritans

Motivation for Founding:

The Puritans wanted to create a colony where they would be free to practice their religion. In 1629, King Charles I began to take action against the Puritans. John Winthrop, who had previously not been associated with the company decided to join and help colonize the Massachusetts Bay colony. He would later become its governor.

Significance:

John Winthrop gave a speech while aboard the Arbella in which he said, "[F]or wee must Consider that wee shall be as a Citty upon a Hill, the eies of all people are uppon us; soe that if wee shall deale falsely with our god in this worke wee have undertaken and soe cause him to withdrawe his present help from us, wee shall be made a story and a byword through the world, wee shall open the mouthes of enemies to speake evill of the wayes of god and all professours for Gods sake...."

These words embody the spirit of the Puritans who founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony. While they emigrated to the New World to be able to freely practice their religion, they did not espouse freedom of religion for other settlers.

In 1691, Plymouth Colony would become part of the larger Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Important People:

  • John Endecott - First Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Was governor for 16 years. Endecott was a staunch Puritan who persecuted those who held opposing views.
  • John Winthrop - Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony for 12 years. His 'City Upon a Hill' speech has inspired many politicians throughout the years including John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.

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