Brief History of Boston Massachusetts 1630-1795

Boston Cityscape

One of America’s most historically rich cities, the story of our nation is evident on nearly every corner in Boston. Officially founded in 1630 by English Puritans who fled to the new land to pursue religious freedom, Boston is considered to be the birthplace of the American Revolution. It was here that the Sons of Liberty led by Samuel Adams, inspired colonists to fight for their freedom against the domination of British Rule. The Boston Tea Party and many other dramatic events that helped shape our nation took place in Boston.

Earliest Settlers


The first settler to live in Boston was Reverend William Blackstone, who had been living in a settlement known as Gorges Colony located in Weymouth. But after the settlement failed and nearly all of the colonists decided to go back to England, Blackstone stayed back and moved to the area that is now known as Beacon Hill. He lived in a cabin that is the same location of the intersection of Charles and Beacon Street and there he planted was became the first apple orchard in New England.

Some of the other earliest settlers, after the tribes of Native Americans that had inhabited the area since 2400 BC, were John Winthrop. Accompanied by more that 700 people, they sailed from England to Boston in March of 1630 aboard a fleet of 11 ships. It wasn’t legal for them to settle in New England, as explorer Captain John Smith deemed it in 1614, unless they had permission from the King. However, the Puritans stayed after finagling a loophole in the legal documentation.

After several months as sea, the Puritans reached the mouth of the Charles River, although hundreds of them did not survive the journey because of poor health and lack of food and water.

The name Boston was chosen when a new settler, Thomas Dudley, suggested they name the new town after their hometown in England. Blackstone and the Puritans worked together building houses, but the Puritans were very dominating. After several years of being pressured to conform to their ways, Blackstone sold his land, which later became Boston Common, to the Puritans and moved away to what we know today to be Rhode Island.

Significant events

1630 First Church in Boston was established. The Unitarian Universalist Church was founded by John Winthrop’s settlement.
1630 King’s Chapel Burying Ground was founded.
1634 The first tavern was opened in Boston by Samuel Cole.

1635 Boston Latin School opened, it was the first American Public School.

1636 The first college was founded to become Harvard University.

1681-1760 Massachusetts Bay Colony lost its right to self-govern causing them to begin what would become a revolution.
1676 Boston was a flourishing town with more than 4,000 colonists.

1689 King’s Chapel was built.

1680 The Paul Revere House was built.

Boston Paul Revere House

1692 The Town became part of the British Colonial Province of Massachusetts.

1729 Old South Meeting House was built.

Historic Happenings

1773 The British East India Tea Company sent tea to Boston for the American colonists to sell on three ships. This was the beginning of the colonists’ resistance to British rule and ultimately what sparked the Boston Tea Party.

1773, December 16 The Sons of Liberty, led by Samuel Adams, boarded the tea ships and threw 298 chests of tea into the Boston Harbor, igniting the American Revolution.

Boston Tea Throwing

1775, April 18 The American Revolution begins.

1775 The Siege of Boston took place.

1776 The 11-month Siege of Boston ends with the evacuation of British troops out of the city.
1776, July 4 America is born when John Hancock is the first to sight the Declaration of Independence, marking the country’s first Independence Day.

1780 John Adams writes the Massachusetts State Constitution, the first constitution in the nation.

1795 Charles Bulfinch begins designing Boston churches, public buildings and homes-spearheads the development of Beacon Hill and designed Boston State House (golden dome).

There’s no doubt the significance of Boston to America’s fight for independence. When you visit, take your time to enjoy all the sites along the Freedom Trail. Plus, learn more about our nation’s history at the many other historic attractions and museums, including the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum.