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New England

This article is about the region in the United States of America. For other uses, see New England (disambiguation). New England Political history Chartering as
Plymouth Council for New England1620-11-03[1]. Formation as
United Colonies of New England1643 Formation as
Dominion of New England1686 New Yorkformally
incorporated into the
Dominion of New England1688-08-11[2]As a result of the
Glorious Revolution, Bostonians imprisoned the royal governor and others loyal to King James II, thereby ending the Dominion of New England. 1689-04-18[3][4]Regional statistics Largest city BostonU.S. StatesConnecticut
New Hampshire
Rhode Island
 - Total
71,991.8 mi² (186,458.8 km²) Population
 - Total (2006)
 - Density
198.2 people/mi² (87.7 people/km²)

New England is a region of the United States located in the northeastern corner of the country, consisting of the modern states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.[6]

In one of the earliest English settlements in the New World, English Pilgrims fleeing religious persecution in Europe first settled in New England in 1620, in the colony of Plymouth. In the late 18th century, the New England colonies would be among the first North American British colonies to demonstrate ambitions of independence from the British Crown, although they would later oppose the War of 1812 between the United States and Britain.

In the 19th century, it played a prominent role in the movement to abolish slavery in the United States, hosted the first pieces of American literature and philosophy, was home to the beginnings of free public education, and was the first region of the United States to be transformed by the North American Industrial Revolution.[7]



Main article: History of New England
An early flag of the Massachusetts Bay Colony[8] The Flag of New England during the Revolutionary War [1]

New England's earliest inhabitants were Algonquian-speaking Native Americans including the Abenaki, the Penobscot, and the Wampanoag. Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the Western Abenakis inhabited New Hampshire and Vermont, as well as parts of Québec and western Maine. Their principal town was Norridgewock, in present-day Maine. The Penobscot were settled along the Penobscot River in Maine. The Wampanoag occupied southeastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.

Compared to other North American settlements, New England was sparsely populated and densely forested, leading European settlers to believe North America was a "virgin land."[9]

The Virginia Companies compete

On April 10, 1606, King James I of England issued a chartered the two Virginia Companies, of London and Plymouth, respectively. These were privately-funded proprietary ventures, and the purpose of each was to claim land for England, trade, and return a profit.[10] Competition between the two companies grew to where their potential New World territory overlapped, and would be finalized based upon results.

The London Company was authorized to make settlements from North Carolina to New York (31 to 41 degrees North Latitude). The Virginia Company of London successfully established the Jamestown Settlement in May, 1607. After a tenuous start, several strains of tobacco were developed as a profitable export by colonist John Rolfe.

Main article: Jamestown, Virginia

Contemporaneously, the Popham Colony was planted by the Virginia Company of Plymouth. Unlike the Jamestown Settlement, it was not initially successful, and was abandoned after one year, though would later be revived. The Virginia Company of Plymouth's charter included land extending as far as present-day northern Maine.[11] Captain John Smith, exploring the shores of the region in 1614, named the region "New England"[12] in his account of two voyages there, published as A Description of New England.

Plymouth Council for New England

The first coins struck in the Colonies were the silver New England coins.

The name "New England" was officially sanctioned on November 3, 1620, when the charter of the Virginia Company of Plymouth was replaced by a royal charter for the Plymouth Council for New England, a joint stock company established to colonize and govern the region.[13] Shortly afterwards, in December 1620, a permanent settlement was established at present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts by the Pilgrims, English religious separatists arriving via Holland. The Massachusetts Bay Colony, which would come to dominate the area, was established in 1628 with its major city of Boston established in 1630.

Banished from Massachusetts, Roger Williams led a group south, and founded Providence, Rhode Island in 1636. On March 3 of the same year, the Connecticut Colony was granted a charter, and established its own government. At this time, Vermont was yet unsettled, and the territories of New Hampshire and Maine were governed by Massachusetts.

New England Confederation

In these early years, relationships between colonists and Native Americans alternated between peace and armed skirmishes. Six years after the bloodiest of these, the Pequot War, in 1643 the colonies of Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, New Haven, and Connecticut joined together in a loose compact called the New England Confederation (officially "The United Colonies of New England"). The confederation was designed largely to coordinate mutual defense against possible wars with Native Americans, the Dutch in the New Netherland colony to the west, the Spanish in the south, and the French in New France to the north, as well as to assist in the return of runaway slaves. The confederation lost its influence when Massachusetts refused to commit itself to a war against the Dutch.

The first coins struck in the Colonies, prompted by a shortage of change, were the New England coins produced by the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The first series was a simple design including "NE" on the obverse and the various denominations on the reverse. Other series included the "Willow," "Oak," and "Pine Tree." The "Pine Tree" coinage was the last type in the series, struck by coiner John Hull. Although the majority were dated 1652, it is generally acknowledged that production spanned about thirty years, despite the disapproval of King Charles II.[14]

Dominion of New England

Main article: Dominion of New England
New England map of 1707

In 1686, King James II, concerned about the increasingly independent ways of the colonies, including their self-governing charters, open flouting of the Navigation Acts, and increasing military power, established the Dominion of New England, an administrative union comprising all of the New England colonies. On 1688-08-11, the provinces of New York and New Jersey, seized from the Dutch in 1664, and confirmed on 1673-09-12, were added[2]. The union, imposed from the outside and contrary to the rooted democratic tradition of the region, was highly unpopular among the colonists.

Nevertheless, those two present states are reckoned as "greater New England" in a social or cultural context, as that is where Yankee colonists expanded to, before 1776. Indeed, the identity in that era changed once one moved to Pennsylvania, as the Pennamite-Yankee War attests to. Colonists from New England proper in that era, were rather well received in the Mohawk Valley and on Long Island in New York. To this day, the cultural legacy of New England is easy to detect by the vast majority of other Americans.

After the Glorious Revolution in 1689, Bostonians imprisoned the Royal Governor and other sympathizers of King James II on 1689-04-18, thus defacto ending the Dominion Of New England[3][4]. The charters of the colonies were significantly modified after this change in English politics, with the appointment of Royal Governors to nearly every colony. An uneasy tension existed between the Royal Governors, their officers, and the elected governing bodies of the colonies. The governors wanted unlimited authority, and the different layers of locally elected officials would often resist them. In most cases, the local town governments continued operating as self-governing bodies, just as they had before the appointment of the Royal Governors. This tension culminated itself in the American Revolution, boiling over with the breakout of the American War of Independence in 1776.

Region of the United States

Boston College: The Old World's enduring influence over New England is evident in the architecture

The colonies were now formally united as newly-formed states in a larger (but not yet federalist) union United States of America.

In the 18th century and the early 19th century, New England was still considered to be a very distinct region of the colony and country, as it is today. During the War of 1812, there was a limited amount of talk of secession from the Union, as New England merchants, just getting back on their feet, opposed the war with their greatest trading partner - Great Britain.[15] The Hartford Convention of 1814 considered secession, but failed to act on it.

For the remainder of the Antebellum period, New England remained distinct. Politically, it often went against the grain of the rest of the country. Massachusetts and Connecticut were among the last refuges of the Federalist Party, and when the Second Party System began in the 1830s, New England became the strongest bastion of the new Whig Party - the Whigs were usually dominant throughout New England, except in the more Democratic Maine and New Hampshire. Many of the leading statesmen - including most prominently Daniel Webster - hailed from the region. New England was also distinct in other ways. It was, as a whole, the most urbanized part of the country (the 1860 Census showed that 32 of the 100 largest cities in the country were in New England), as well as the most educated. Many of the major literary and intellectual figures produced by the United States in the Antebellum period were New Englanders, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth, Longfellow, John Greenleaf Whittier, George Bancroft, William H. Prescott, and others.

New England was also an early center of the industrial revolution. Towns like Lawrence and Lowell, Massachusetts became famed as centers of the textile industry.

New England and areas settled from New England, like Upstate New York, Ohio's Western Reserve and the upper midwestern states of Michigan and Wisconsin, also proved to be the center of the strongest abolitionist sentiment in the country. Prominent abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips were New Englanders, and the region was also home to prominent anti-slavery politicians like John Quincy Adams, Charles Sumner, and John P. Hale. When the anti-slavery Republican Party was formed in the 1860s, all of New England, including areas which had previously been strongholds for both the Whig and the Democratic Parties, became strongly Republican, as it would remain until the early 20th century, when immigration would begin to turn the formerly solidly Republican states of Lower New England towards the Democrats.

Aside from the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, or "New Scotland," New England is the only North American region to inherit the name of a kingdom in the British Isles. New England has largely preserved its regional character, especially in its historic places. Its name is a reminder of the past, as many of the original English-Americans have migrated further west. Today, the region is more ethnically diverse, having seen waves of immigration from Ireland, Québec, Italy, Portugal, Asia, Latin America, Africa, other parts of the United States, and elsewhere. The enduring European influence can be seen in the region, from Massachusetts' use of traffic rotaries to the bilingual French and English towns of northern Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire, as innocuous as the sprinkled use of British spelling, and as obvious as the region's heavy prevalence of English town and county names, and its unique, often non-rhotic coastal dialect reminiscent of southeastern England.

New England is the traditional center of ethnic English ancestry and culture in the United States. The only place in the U.S. outside New England with a significant majority English ethnicity is Utah-Eastern Idaho—the traditional core of the Jello Belt region, whose proportion of English Americans is actually higher today than New England, with Utah being the most English of U.S. states with 29.0% English ancestry, followed by New England states Maine with 21.5% and Vermont with 18.4%. This population is contrastingly far more conservative than modern New England and is mainly LDS in religion, but its substratal cultural character is largely reminiscent of both early 19th century New England and Victorian England (due to later direct handcart immigration).

See also: List of place names in New England of aboriginal origin

Geography and climate

New England. Geographical map, 2001 A USGS map depicts a small piece of Maine's fjordlike coast.

New England's long rolling hills, mountains, and jagged coastline are a consequence of retreating ice sheets thousands of years ago. The coast of the region, extending from southwestern Connecticut to northeastern Maine, is dotted with lakes, hills, swamps, and sandy beaches. Further inland are the Appalachian Mountains, extending through Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Among them, in the White Mountains of New Hampshire is Mount Washington, which at 1,917 m (6,288 ft), is the highest peak in the northeast United States. It is also the site of the highest recorded wind speed on Earth.[16] Vermont's Green Mountains, which become the Berkshire Hills in western Massachusetts, are smaller than the White Mountains. Valleys in the region include the Connecticut River Valley and the Merrimack Valley.

The longest river is the Connecticut River, which flows from northeastern New Hampshire for 655 km (407 mi), emptying into the Long Island Sound. Lake Champlain, wedged between Vermont and New York, is the largest lake in the region, followed by Moosehead Lake (Maine), Lake Winnipesaukee (New Hampshire), Quabbin Reservoir (Massachusetts), and Candlewood Lake (Connecticut).

Weather patterns are highly variable and climate varies throughout the region. Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont have a humid continental short summer climate, with cooler summers and long, cold winters. Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, have a humid continental long summer climate, with hot summers and cold winters. Owing to thick deciduous forests, fall in New England brings bright and colorful foliage, which comes earlier than in other regions, attracting tourism.[17] Springs are generally wet and cloudy. Average rainfall generally ranges from 1,000 to 1,500 mm (40 to 60 in) a year, although the northern parts of Vermont and Maine see slightly less, from 500 to 1,000 mm (20 to 40 in). Snowfall can often exceed 2,500 mm (100 in) annually. As a result, the mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire are popular destinations in the winter, with numerous commercial ski resorts.[18][19]


Boston is considered to be the cultural and historical capital of New England, though today New York City exerts strong influence on the region's southwest corner.

In 2000, the total population of New England was 13,922,517, roughly twice its 1910 population of 6,552,681.[20] If New England were one state, its population would rank 5th in the nation, behind Florida. Its land area, at 62,808.96 sq mi (162,672.45 km²), would rank 21st, behind Washington and ahead of Georgia. The region's average population density is 221.66 inhabitants/sq mi (85.59/km²), although a great disparity exists between its northern and southern portions, as noted below. It is much greater than that of the United States as a whole (79.56/sq mi) or even just the contiguous 48 states (94.48/sq mi).

Southern New England

Three quarters of New England's population and most of its major cities are concentrated in its three southernmost states: Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Their combined population density is 786.83/sq mi, compared to northern New England's 63.56/sq mi (2000 census). The most populous state is Massachusetts, and the most populous city is Massachusetts' political and cultural capital, Boston. Western Massachusetts and Northwestern Connecticut are less densely populated than the rest of Southern New England.

Providence claims the largest contiguous area of National Register of Historic Places-listed buildings in the U.S.

Coastal New England

The coastline is more urban than western New England, which is typically rural, even in urban states like Massachusetts. This characteristic of the region's population is due mainly to historical factors; the original colonists settled mostly on the coastline of Massachusetts Bay. The only New England state without access to the Atlantic Ocean, Vermont, is also the least populated. After nearly 400 years, the region still maintains, for the most part, its historical population layout.

New England's coast is dotted with urban centers, such as Portland, Portsmouth, Boston, New Bedford, Fall River, Newport, Providence, New Haven, Bridgeport, and Stamford as well as smaller cities, like Newburyport, Gloucester, Biddeford, Bath, Rockland, and New London.

Urban New England

Southern New England forms an integral part of the BosWash megalopolis, a conglomeration of urban centers that spans from Boston to Washington, D.C.. The region includes three of the four most densely populated states in the United States; only New Jersey has a higher population density than the states of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

Worcester, Massachusetts

The Boston metropolitan area, which includes parts of southern New Hampshire, has a total population of approximately 4.4 million.[21] The most populous cities are as of 2000 Census(2006 estimates in parenthesis):[22]

  1. Boston, Massachusetts: 589,141[23] (590,763)
  2. Providence, Rhode Island: 173,618 (175,255)
  3. Worcester, Massachusetts: 172,648 (175,454)
  4. Springfield, Massachusetts: 152,082 (151,176)
  5. Bridgeport, Connecticut: 139,529 (137,912)
  6. Hartford, Connecticut: 124,558 (124,512)
  7. New Haven, Connecticut: 123,626 (124,001)
  8. Stamford, Connecticut: 117,083 (119,261)
  9. Waterbury, Connecticut: 107,271 (107,251)
  10. Manchester, New Hampshire: 107,006 (109,497)
  11. Lowell, Massachusetts: 105,167 (103,229)
  12. Cambridge, Massachusetts: 101,355 (101,365)

During the 20th century, urban expansion in regions surrounding New York City has become an important economic influence on neighboring Connecticut, parts of which belong to the New York Metropolitan Area. The US Census Bureau groups Fairfield, New Haven and Litchfield counties in western Connecticut together with New York City, and other parts of New York and New Jersey as a combined statistical area.[24]


Several factors contribute to the uniquenesses of the New England economy. The region is geographically isolated from the rest of the United States, and is relatively small. It has a climate and a supply of natural resources such as granite, lobster, and codfish, that are different from many other parts of the country. Its population is concentrated on the coast and in its southern states, and its residents have a strong regional identity. America's textile industry began along the Blackstone River with the Slater Mill at Pawtucket, Rhode Island,[25] and was duplicated at similar sources of water power such as Woonsocket, Rhode Island, Uxbridge, Massachusetts, and Lawrence, Massachusetts. Exports consist mostly of industrial products, including specialized machines and weaponry, built by the region's educated workforce. About half of the region's exports consist of industrial and commercial machinery, such as computers and electronic and electrical equipment. This, when combined with instruments, chemicals, and transportation equipment, makes up about three-quarters of the region's exports. Granite is quarried at Barre, Vermont, guns made at Springfield, Massachusetts, boats at Groton, Connecticut and Bath, Maine, and hand tools at Turners Falls, Massachusetts. Insurance is a driving force in and around Hartford, Connecticut.

Hartford, the "Insurance Capital of the World".

New England also exports food products, ranging from fish to lobster, cranberries, Maine potatoes, and maple syrup. The service industry is also highly important, including tourism, education, financial and insurance services, plus architectural, building, and construction services. The U.S. Department of Commerce has called the New England economy a microcosm for the entire United States economy.[26]

As of May 2006, the unemployment rate in New England was 4.5%, below the national average. Vermont, with the lowest of the six states, had a rate of 3%. The highest was Rhode Island, with 5.5%. The metropolitan statistical area (MSA) with the lowest rate, 2.5%, was Burlington-South Burlington, in Vermont; the MSA with the highest rate, 7.9%, was Lawrence-Methuen-Salem, in Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire.[27]

New England is home to two of the ten poorest cities (by percentage living below the poverty line) in the United States: the state capital cities of Providence, Rhode Island and Hartford, Connecticut.[28] These cities have struggled as manufacturing, their traditional economic mainstay, has declined.[29]

With its rocky soil and climate, New England is not a strong agricultural region. Some New England states, however, are ranked highly among U.S. states for particular areas of production. Maine is ranked ninth for aquaculture,[30] Vermont fifteenth for dairy products,[31] and Connecticut and Massachusetts seventh and eleventh for tobacco, respectively.[32][33] Cranberries are grown in the Cape Cod - Plymouth area, and blueberries in Maine. As of 2005, the inflation-adjusted combined GSPs of the six states of New England was $623.1 billion, with Massachusetts contributing the most, and Vermont the least.[34]


The early European settlers of New England were English Protestants fleeing religious persecution. This, however, did not prevent them from establishing colonies where religion was legislated to an extreme, and where those who deviated from the established doctrine were persecuted greatly. The early history of much of New England is marked by religious intolerance and harsh laws. In the beginning, there was no separation of church and state in these places, and the activities of the individual were severely restricted.[35] This contrasts sharply with the strong separation of church and state upon which Rhode Island was founded. Providence had no public burial ground and no Common until the year 1700 (64 years after its founding) because religious and government institutions were so rigorously kept distinct.[36]

New England and political thought

Samuel Adams, a brewer and patriot during the revolutionary period

During the colonial period and the early years of the American republic, New England leaders like John Hancock, John Adams, and Samuel Adams joined those in Philadelphia and Virginia to assist and lead the newly-forming country. Daniel Webster was influential in expressing the political views of many New-Englanders in the early 19th century. At the time of the American Civil War, New England, the mid-Atlantic, and the Midwest, which had long since abolished slavery, united against the Confederate States of America, ending the practice in the United States. Henry David Thoreau, iconic New England writer and philosopher, made the case for civil disobedience and individualism, and has been adopted by the anarchist tradition. Benjamin Tucker, of Massachusetts, was a proponent of individualist anarchism. A modern example of this individualist spirit is the Free State Project in New Hampshire, and The Second Vermont Republic in Vermont.

While modern New England is known for its liberal tendencies, Puritan New England was highly intolerant of any deviation from strict social norms. During the 1960s civil rights era, Boston brewed with racial tension over school busing to end de facto segregation of its public schools.[37]

Eight presidents of the United States have been born in New England, however only five are usually affiliated with the area. They are, in chronological order: John Adams (Massachusetts), John Quincy Adams (Massachusetts), Franklin Pierce (New Hampshire), Chester A. Arthur (born in Vermont, affiliated with New York), Calvin Coolidge (born in Vermont, affiliated with Massachusetts), John F. Kennedy (Massachusetts), George H. W. Bush (born in Massachusetts, affiliated with Texas) and George W. Bush (born in Connecticut, affiliated with Texas).

Ten of the Speakers of the United States House of Representatives have been elected from New England. They are, in chronological order: Theodore Sedgwick (5th Speaker, Massachusetts), Joseph Bradley Varnum (7th Speaker, Massachuetts), Robert Charles Winthrop (22nd Speaker, Massachusetts), Nathaniel Prentice Banks (25th Speaker, Massachusetts), James G. Blaine (31st Speaker, Maine), Thomas Brackett Reed (36th and 38th, Maine), Frederick Gillett (42nd, Massachusetts), Joseph William Martin, Jr. (49th and 51st, Massachusetts), John McCormack (53rd, Massachusetts) and Tip O'Neill (55th, Massachusetts).

Contemporary politics

The dominant party in New England has been the Democratic Party. In every New England state, both legislative houses have a majority of Democratic representatives. Democrats hold half of New England's governor's positions: Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. While the governors of Connecticut, Vermont and Rhode Island are Republicans, the legislatures have veto-overriding Democratic super-majorities.[38][39][40]

Due to the liberal lean of the region, the state Republican parties and the elected Republican officials have been more politically and socially moderate than the national Republican Party, including Congressman Christopher Shays of Connecticut, Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine as well as Governors Donald Carcieri (RI), Jodi Rell (CT) and Jim Douglas (VT). Republican Senators John Sununu and Judd Gregg of New Hampshire have been moderate-to-conservative, but this is reflective of New Hampshire being the most conservative state in the region, as New Hampshire, prior to the 2006 election, had the only Republican-controlled legislature in New England.

Electoral impact

The smallest geographically, in population and politically, New England has fewer electoral votes than any other region. Except for one instance, its electoral votes have never made a difference in a presidential election since 1860. The region either voted for the loser or for the winner, when the electoral vote was overwhelming. The one exception was in the close election of 1960 when Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island voted for Kennedy. Collectively, New England has as many electoral votes (34) as Texas. However, electoral votes in the United States are counted by state, not by region.

In the 2000 presidential election, Democratic candidate Al Gore carried all of the New England states except for New Hampshire, and in 2004, John Kerry, a New Englander himself, won all six New England states.[41] In both the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, every congressional district with the exception of New Hampshire's 1st district were won by Gore and Kerry respectively. In the 2008 presidential election, the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama, has consistently polled as the winner in New England states by a large margin except in New Hampshire.[42][43]


Town meetings

Main article: Town meeting

A derivative of meetings held by church elders, town meetings were and are an integral part of governance of many New England towns. At such meetings, any citizen of the town may discuss issues with other members of the community and vote on them. This is the strongest example of direct democracy in the United States today, and the form of dialogue has been adopted under certain circumstances elsewhere, most strongly in the states closest to the region, such as New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Such a strong democratic tradition was even apparent in the early 19th century, when Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in Democracy in America that in

New England, where education and liberty are the daughters of morality and religion, where society has acquired age and stability enough to enable it to form principles and hold fixed habits, the common people are accustomed to respect intellectual and moral superiority and to submit to it without complaint, although they set at naught all those privileges which wealth and birth have introduced among mankind. In New England, consequently, the democracy makes a more judicious choice than it does elsewhere.

James Madison, a critic of town meetings, however, wrote in Federalist No. 55 that, regardless of the assembly, "passion never fails to wrest the scepter from reason. Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob."[44] Today, the use and effectiveness of town meetings, as well as the possible application of the format to other regions and countries, is still discussed by scholars.[45]

Notable laws

New England abolished the death penalty for crimes like robbery and burglary in the 19th century, before much of the rest of the United States did. New Hampshire and Connecticut are the only New England states that allow capital punishment,[46] although New Hampshire currently has no death row inmates and has not held an execution since 1939. Connecticut held an execution in 2005, the first in New England since 1960, when Connecticut last executed a prisoner.[47]

Vermont was the first state to allow civil unions between same sex couples, and Massachusetts was the first state to allow same-sex marriage. In 2005, Connecticut also began to allow civil unions. In 2008, some form of same-sex unions will be in all New England states except Rhode Island, though the state does recognize Massachusetts marriages for its residents.[48]

In 2006, Massachusetts adopted a health care reform that requires nearly all state residents obtain health insurance.[49]


Colleges and universities

New England is home to four of the eight Ivy League universities. Pictured here is Dartmouth Hall on the campus of Dartmouth College.

New England contains some of the oldest and most renowned institutions of higher learning in the United States. The first such institution, subsequently named Harvard College, was founded at Cambridge, Massachusetts, to train preachers, in 1636. Yale University was founded in New Haven, Connecticut in 1701, and awarded the nation's first graduate (Ph.D.) degree in 1861. Brown University, the first college in the nation to accept students of all religious affiliations and third-oldest institution of higher learning, was founded in Providence, Rhode Island in 1764. Dartmouth College was founded five years later in Hanover, New Hampshire with the mission of educating the local American Indian population as well as English youth.

In addition to four out of eight Ivy League schools, New England also contains the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), four of the original seven sisters are in New England, the bulk of institutions identified as the Little Ivies, and is the home to the Five Colleges consortium in western Massachusetts.

See also: the lists of colleges for each state:
Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Private and independent secondary schools

At the pre-college level, New England is home to a number of prominent American independent schools (also known as private schools). The concept of the elite "New England prep school" (preparatory school) and the "preppy" lifestyle is an iconic part of the region's image.

See the list of private schools for each state:
Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont.

Public education

New England states fund their public schools well, with expenditures per student, and teacher salaries above the national median. As of 2005, the National Education Association ranked Connecticut with the highest-paid teachers in the country. Massachusetts and Rhode Island ranked eighth and ninth, respectively. Every state but New Hampshire is in the top ten for educational spending per student.[50] Boston Latin School is the oldest public high school in America. Several signers of the Declaration of Independence attended Boston Latin.[51]

Academic journals and press

New England is home to several prominent academic journals and publishing companies, including The New England Journal of Medicine, Harvard University Press, and Yale University Press. Also, many of its institutions lead the open access alternative to conventional academic publication, including MIT, the University of Connecticut, and the University of Maine. The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston publishes the New England Economic Review.[52]


The six states ranked within the top thirteen "healthiest states" in 2007.[53] In 2008 they all placed within the top eleven states.


See also: Notable New Englanders

New England has a history of shared heritage and culture primarily shaped by waves of immigration from Europe. A cultural divide, however, also exists between urban New Englanders living along the densely-populated coastline and rural New Englanders in western Massachusetts, Northwestern Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, where population density is low.[54]

Connecticut has two cultural and demographic trends: the southwestern part of the state is largely suburban, alongside the cities Bridgeport, New Haven, Waterbury, Stamford, and Danbury, and as part of the New York metropolitan area, is influenced by New York City. The remainder of the state, is culturally similar to neighboring Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Residents of this area are often referred to as "Swamp Yankees."[55] An example of Connecticut's cultural dichotomy can be found in residents' allegiance to sports teams. Western Connecticut residents tend to support New York teams, unlike the rest of the state who tend to be loyal to Boston teams.[56] Television broadcasts in Hartford and New Haven typically give equal coverage to sports teams from both Boston and New York.

Cultural roots

The first European colonists of New England were focused on maritime affairs such as whaling and fishing, rather than more continental inclinations such as surplus farming. One of the older American regions, New England has developed a distinct cuisine, dialect, architecture, and government. New England cuisine is known for its emphasis on seafood and dairy; clam chowder, lobster, and other products of the sea are among some of the region's most popular foods, such as New Haven's famous white clam pizza.

See also: Cuisine of New England


The often-parodied Boston accent (see Mayor Quimby of The Simpsons) is native to the region. Many of its most stereotypical features (such as r-dropping and the so-called broad A) are believed to have originated in Boston from the influence of south-eastern British English, which shares those features. While at one point Boston accents were most strongly associated with the so-called "Eastern Establishment" and Boston's upper class, today the accent is predominantly associated with blue-collar natives as exemplified by movies like Good Will Hunting. The Boston accent and accents closely related to it cover eastern Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine, though there is of course significant dialect variation within this area.

Also found in New England is the distinctively conservative dialect of Rhode Island (parodied by Peter Griffin and Lois Griffin of Family Guy). This particular accent resembles the Boston accent in being non-rhotic, but resembles the New York dialect in (unlike Boston) avoiding the caught-cot merger by raising the phoneme of caught to the vicinity of [oə].

The accent family of western New England (most of Connecticut, western Massachusetts, and Vermont) differs sharply from the Boston accent to its east and the New York accent to its southwest, but is thought to be closely related to the so-called Inland North accent of the Great Lakes region due west of it, to which western New England contributed many early settlers.

Social activities and music

Bars and pubs, especially those with Irish themes, are popular social venues. Closer to Boston, musicians from Ireland often tour pubs, playing traditional Irish folk music, usually with a singer, a fiddler, and a guitarist. This area also has thriving hardcore, punk, and indie rock music scenes. Surf rock was pioneered by Dick Dale of Quincy, Massachusetts, and the Pixies, of Boston, influenced the grunge movement of the 1990s. Dropkick Murphys, from Quincy, Massachusetts, mix hardcore and punk music with Irish music in a style known as Celtic Punk. Also, both Boston and New Haven have had a big influence on ska musicians from the Northeast.

In much of rural New England, particularly Maine, Acadian and Québécois culture also dominate the region's music and dance. Contra dancing and country square dancing are popular throughout New England, usually backed by live Irish, Acadian, or other folk music.

Traditional knitting, quilting and rug hooking circles in rural New England have become less common; church, sports, and town government are more typical social activities. New Englanders of all ages also enjoy ice cream socials.[citation needed] These traditional gatherings are often hosted in individual homes or civic centers; larger groups regularly assemble at special-purpose ice cream parlors that dot the countryside. In fact, New England leads the country in ice cream consumption per capita.[57][58]

In the United States, Candlepin bowling is essentially confined to New England, an activity invented there in the 19th century.[59]


New England has several regional broadcasting companies, including New England Cable News (NECN) and the New England Sports Network (NESN) as well as the national cable sports broadcaster Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN) in Bristol, Connecticut. The former is the largest regional news network in the United States, broadcasting to more than 3.2 million homes in all of the New England states. Its studios are located in Newton, Massachusetts, outside of Boston, although it maintains bureaus in Manchester, New Hampshire; Hartford, Connecticut; Worcester, Massachusetts; Portland, Maine; and Burlington, Vermont.[60]

The New England Sports Network covers New England sports teams throughout the region, save for Fairfield County, Connecticut.[61]

While most New England cities have daily newspapers, the Boston Globe and New York Times are distributed widely throughout the region.


Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in Boston and spent most of his literary career in Concord, Massachusetts.

New England has been the birthplace of many American authors and poets. Ralph Waldo Emerson was born near Boston. Henry David Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts, where he famously lived, for some time, by Walden Pond, on Emerson's land. Nathaniel Hawthorne, romantic era writer, was born in historical Salem; later, he would live in Concord at the same time as Emerson and Thoreau. Emily Dickinson lived most of her life in Amherst, Massachusetts. Henry W. Longfellow was from Portland, Maine. Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston. According to many reports, the famed Mother Goose, the author of fairy tales and nursery rhymes was originally a person named Elizabeth Foster Goose or Mary Goose who lived in Boston. Poets James Russell Lowell, Amy Lowell, and Robert Lowell, a Confessionalist poet and teacher of Sylvia Plath, were all New England natives. Anne Sexton, also taught by Lowell, was born and died in Massachusetts. Much of the work of Nobel Prize laureate Eugene O'Neill is often associated with the city of New London, Connecticut where he spent many summers. The 14th U.S. Poet Laureate Donald Hall, a New Hampshire resident, continues the line of renowned New England poets. Noah Webster, the Father of American Scholarship and Education, was born in West Hartford, Connecticut. Pulitzer Prize winning poets Edwin Arlington Robinson, Edna St. Vincent Millay and Robert P. T. Coffin were born in Maine. Poets Stanley Kunitz and Elizabeth Bishop were both born in Worcester, Massachusetts. Pulitzer Prize winning poet Galway Kinnell was born in Providence, Rhode Island. Oliver La Farge was a New Englander of French and Narragansett descent, won the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel, the predecessor to the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, in 1930 for his book Laughing Boy. John P. Marquand grew up in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Novelist Edwin O'Connor, who was also known as a radio personality and journalist, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his novel The Edge of Sadness. Pulitzer Prize winner John Cheever, a novelist and short story writer, was born in Quincy, Massachusetts set most of his fiction in old New England villages based on various South Shore towns around his birthcity. E. Annie Proulx was born in Norwich, Connecticut. David Lindsay-Abaire won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2007 for his play Rabbit Hole was raised in Boston.

Ethan Frome, written in 1911 by Edith Wharton, is set in turn-of-the-century New England, in the fictitious town of Starkfield, Massachusetts. Like much literature of the region, it plays off themes of isolation and hopelessness. New England is also the setting for most of the gothic horror stories of H. P. Lovecraft, who lived his life in Providence, Rhode Island. Real New England towns such as Ipswich, Newburyport, Rowley, and Marblehead are given fictional names such as Dunwich, Arkham, Innsmouth, Kingsport, and Miskatonic and then featured quite often in his stories. Lovecraft had an immense appreciation for the New England area, and when he had to re-locate to New York City, he longed to return to his beloved native land.

The region has also drawn the attention of authors and poets from other parts of the United States. Mark Twain found Hartford to be the most beautiful city in the United States and made it his home, and wrote his masterpieces there. He lived directly next door to Harriett Beecher Stowe, a local whose most famous work is Uncle Tom's Cabin. John Updike, originally from Pennsylvania, eventually moved to Ipswich, Massachusetts, which served as the model for the fictional New England town of Tarbox in his 1968 novel Couples. Robert Frost was born in California, but moved to Massachusetts during his teen years and published his first poem in Lawrence; his frequent use of New England settings and themes ensured that he would be associated with the region. Arthur Miller, a New York City native, used New England as the setting for some of his works, most notably The Crucible. Herman Melville, originally for New York City, bought the house now known as Arrowhead in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and while he lived there he wrote his greatest novel Moby-Dick. Poet Maxine Kumin was born in Philadelphia, currently resides in Warner, New Hampshire. Pulitzer Prize winning poet Mary Oliver was born in Maple Heights, Ohio has lived in Provincetown, Massachusetts for the last forty years. Charles Simic who was born in Belgrade, Serbia (at that time Yugoslavia) grew up in Chicago and lives in Strafford, New Hampshire, on the shore of Bow Lake and is the professor emeritus of American literature and creative writing at the University of New Hampshire. Pulitzer Prize winning novelist and short story writer Steven Millhauser, who was born in New York City and short story Eisenheim the Illusionist was adapted into the 2006 film was raised in Connecticut.

More recently, Stephen King, born in Portland, Maine, has used the small towns of his home state as the setting for much of his horror fiction, with several of his stories taking place in or near the fictional town of Castle Rock. Just to the south, Exeter, New Hampshire was the birthplace of best-selling novelist John Irving and Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code. Rick Moody has set many of his works in southern New England, focusing on wealthy families of suburban Connecticut's Gold Coast and their battles with addiction and anomie. Derek Walcott, a playwright and poet, who won Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992, teaches poetry at Boston University. Pulitzer Prize winner Cormac McCarthy, whose novel No Country for Old Men was made into the Academy Award for Best Picture winning film in 2007, was born in Providence (although he moved to Tennessee when he was a boy).

Largely on the strength of its local writers, Boston was for some years the center of the U.S. publishing industry, before being overtaken by New York in the middle of the nineteenth century. Boston remains the home of publishers Houghton Mifflin and Pearson Education, and was the longtime home of literary magazine The Atlantic Monthly. Merriam-Webster is based in Springfield, Massachusetts. Yankee, a magazine for New Englanders, is based in Dublin, New Hampshire.


Main article: Sports in New England

Two popular American sports were invented in New England. Basketball was invented by James Naismith in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1891.[62] Volleyball was invented by William G. Morgan in Holyoke, Massachusetts, in 1895.[63]

Professional and semi-professional sports teams in New England

v • d • eSportsteams basedin New England BaseballAL: Boston Red Sox – IL: Pawtucket Red Sox – EL: Connecticut Defenders • New Britain Rock Cats • New Hampshire Fisher Cats • Portland Sea Dogs – NYPL: Lowell Spinners • Vermont Lake Monsters – ALPB: Bridgeport Bluefish – Can-Am: Brockton Rox • Nashua Pride • Worcester Tornadoes

BasketballNBA: Boston Celtics – WNBA: Connecticut Sun – ABA: Boston Blizzard – PBL: Manchester Millrats • Vermont Frost HeavesFootballNFL: New England Patriots – af2: Manchester Wolves – CIFL: New England Surge – NWFA: Connecticut Crush • Maine Freeze – IWFL: Boston Militia • Connecticut Cyclones • Holyoke Hurricanes • Manchester Freedom • New England Intensity • Southern Maine Rebels HockeyNHL: Boston Bruins – AHL: Bridgeport Sound Tigers • Hartford Wolf Pack • Lowell Devils • Manchester Monarchs • Portland Pirates • Providence Bruins • Springfield Falcons • Worcester Sharks – QMJHL: Lewiston MAINEiacsSoccerMLS: New England Revolution – USL-2: Western Mass Pioneers – PDL: Cape Cod Crusaders • New Hampshire Phantoms • Rhode Island Stingrays • Vermont Voltage – NPSL: Boston Aztec • Maine Sting – W-League: Boston Renegades • Vermont Lady Voltage • Western Mass Lady PioneersLacrosseMLL: Boston Cannons – NLL: Boston BlazersSoftballNPFNew England RiptideRugby leagueAMNRLConnecticut Wildcats • New Haven WarriorsRugby unionRSLBoston Irish Wolfhounds RFC • Boston RFCTennisWTTBoston LobstersCollege athletics
(NCAA Div. I) Boston College • Boston University • Brown • Bryant • Central Connecticut • UConn • Dartmouth • Fairfield • Hartford • Harvard • Holy Cross • Maine • UMass • New Hampshire • Northeastern • Providence College • Rhode Island • Quinnipiac • Sacred Heart • Vermont • YaleGaelic gamesBoston GAAHurling • Gaelic football

Most New Englanders tend towards support of the local professional sports teams: the Boston Red Sox, the New England Patriots (based in Foxborough, Massachusetts), the Boston Celtics, the Boston Bruins and the New England Revolution (also based in Foxborough). In the southwestern part of the state, many Connecticut residents support the New York Yankees and other New York based professional sports teams, both due to geographical proximity and the high rate of southwestern Connecticut residents with business or employment ties to New York City. Hartford had a professional NHL hockey team from 1972 through 1997 called the Hartford Whalers (more affectionately known locally as "The Whale"). However, in 1997, the owner moved the team to North Carolina (changing the name to the Carolina Hurricanes) for financial reasons. There are also numerous minor league baseball and hockey teams based in larger cities such as the Pawtucket Red Sox (baseball), the Worcester Tornadoes (baseball) and the Worcester Sharks (hockey), the Lowell Spinners (baseball) and the Lowell Devils (hockey), the Portland Sea Dogs (basebal), the Nashua Pride (baseball), the Portland Pirates (hockey), and others.

The region also has a rich heritage in high school and college athletics. Thanksgiving day high school football rivalries date back to the 19th century, and the Harvard-Yale rivalry ("The Game") is the oldest active rivalry in college football. The Boston Marathon, run on Patriot's Day every year, is a New England cultural institution and the oldest annual marathon in the world. While the race offers far less prize money than many other marathons, and the infamous Newton hills have helped ensure that no world record has been set on the course since 1947, the race's difficulty and long history make it one of the world's most prestigious marathons.[64]

Notable places

Boats on the Kennebunk River between Kennebunk and Kennebunkport, Maine.


New England features many of the oldest cities and towns in the country. The following places are replete with historic buildings, parks, and streetscapes (following the coast from New Haven):

The New Haven Green was created in 1638 and remains preserved today as the heart of what could be considered to be the first planned city in America.[65]


The Appalachian Mountains run through northern New England which make for excellent skiing. Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine are home to various ski resorts.

Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts are popular tourist destinations for their small town charm and beaches. All have restrictive zoning laws to prevent sprawl and overdevelopment.

Acadia National Park, off the coast of Maine, preserves most of Mount Desert Island and includes mountains, an ocean shoreline, woodlands, and lakes.

Additionally, the coastal New England states are home to many oceanfront beaches.

The financial magazine Money, in a 2006 survey entitled "Best Places to Live," ranked several New England towns and cities in the top one hundred. In Connecticut, Fairfield was ranked ninth, while Stamford was ranked forty-sixth. In Maine, Portland ranked eighty-ninth. In Massachusetts, Newton was ranked twenty-second. In New Hampshire, Nashua, a past number one, was ranked eighty-seventh. In Rhode Island, Cranston was ranked seventy-eighth, while Warwick was ranked eighty-third.[66]

See also: Beaches of New England

See also


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