Massachusetts July 01, 2016
10 Things You Didn’t Know About The History Of Massachusetts
There’s so much about our beautiful state that most people don’t know. Check out these bizarre and fascinating facts from the hidden history of Massachusetts.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Massachusetts is technically not a state.
We're actually a commonwealth, along with Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Technically, a commonwealth is a politically organized body of people which is under one government, while a state is a territory which is controlled and governed by a particular nation. It's really just a formal distinction, though – the commonwealths function just like the other 46 states.
2. Maine used to be part of Massachusetts.
For real. It was called the District of Maine, and wasn't granted statehood until 1820. The people of Maine campaigned for their independence from Massachusetts for years before the Missouri Compromise gave them a bittersweet victory – Maine would be admitted into the nation as a free state, while Missouri would gain statehood as a slave state.
3. The birth control pill was invented in Worcester in 1954.
Researchers at Clark University were influenced by the work of Margaret Sanger, who campaigned for the development of a contraceptive for poor women who were burdened by frequent pregnancies. The pill was approved by the FDA in 1960.
4. Frozen foods were invented in Gloucester
The concept may seem obvious today, but Clarence Birdseye was the first to introduce mass-produced frozen meals in 1925.
5. The largest art theft in world history occurred in Boston in 1990.
Twelve paintings worth over $100 million were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum on March 13, 1990. The thieves posed as Boston police officers and simply walked out with the artwork. Most of the pieces have never been recovered, and the museum is still offering a reward for information leading to their return.
6. In 1962, the then-largest cash heist of all time occurred in Plymouth.
Two armed men stopped a mail truck on August 14, 1962 and escaped with the contents: a cool $1.5 million in small bills. The money has never been recovered, and the crime has never been solved.
7. Revere Beach was first public beach in the United States.
Beachgoers across the country have Massachusetts to thank for introducing the idea of a state-maintained seashore to the nation in 1895.
8. You didn't need a license or plates to drive in Massachusetts until 1903.
Before that, all you needed was a set of wheels.
9. The Massachusetts State House is the home of our "Sacred Cod."
The Sacred Cod has been the unusual emblem of Massachusetts for over 300 years. At four feet long and 80 pounds, the cod hangs in the State House House of Representatives chamber. A "Holy Mackerel" hangs in the Senate chamber.
10. "Say Hello to Someone from Massachusetts" by Lenny Gomulka is the official polka of the Commonwealth.
Did you learn anything new? For more unexpected bits of Massachusetts trivia, check out
these insane Massachusetts laws that are still on the books today.