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New England

New England


Location within the United States

"An appeal to heaven"

Brother Jonathan
Regional statistics
Composition Connecticut
New Hampshire
Rhode Island
Demonym New Englander, Yankee[1]
 - Total

71,991.8 sq mi (186,458.8 km²)
 - Total

 - Density

14,618,806 (2013 est.)[2]
203.1/sq mi (78.4/km²)
Governors Dannel Malloy (D-CT)
Paul LePage (R-ME)
Deval Patrick (D-MA)
Maggie Hassan (D-NH)
Lincoln Chafee (D-RI)
Peter Shumlin (D-VT)
Largest city Boston (pop. 636,479)
GDP $900.8 billion (2013)[3]
HDI 5.7 (1st) (2011)
Largest Metropolitan Area Boston-Cambridge-Quincy (pop. 4,522,858)

New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. New England is bordered by New York to the west, Long Island Sound to the south, the Atlantic Ocean and the Canadian province of New Brunswick to the east, and the Canadian province of Quebec to the north.

In one of the earliest English settlements in North America, Pilgrims from England first settled in New England in 1620, to form Plymouth Colony. Ten years later, the Puritans settled north of Plymouth Colony in Boston, thus forming Massachusetts Bay Colony. Over the next 126 years, New England fought in four French and Indian Wars, until the British defeated the French and their native allies in North America.

In the late 18th century, the New England Colonies initiated the resistance to the British Parliament's efforts to impose new taxes without the consent of the colonists. The Boston Tea Party was a protest to which Great Britain responded with a series of punitive laws stripping Massachusetts of self-government, which were termed the "Intolerable Acts" by the colonists. The confrontation led to open warfare in 1775, the expulsion of the British authorities from New England in spring 1776, and the Declaration of Independence in July 1776.

Some of the first movements of American literature, philosophy, and education originated in New England. The region played a prominent role in the movement to abolish slavery, and was the first region of the United States transformed by the Industrial Revolution. Today, New England is a major world center of education, high technology, insurance, and medicine. Boston is its cultural, financial, educational, medical, and transportation center.

Each state is principally subdivided into small incorporated municipalities known as towns, which are often governed by town meetings. The only unincorporated area in New England exists in the sparse, northern regions of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Since 1970, voters have more often supported liberal candidates at the state and federal level than those of any other region in the United States.

New England is the only one of the United States Census Bureau's nine regional divisions whose name does not derive from its geography and it is the only multi-state region with clear, consistent boundaries. It maintains a strong sense of cultural identity set apart from the rest of the country, although the terms of this identity are often contested, combining Puritanism with liberalism, agrarian life with industry, and isolation with immigration.


  • History 1
    • Eastern Algonquian peoples 1.1
    • Colonial Period 1.2
      • The Virginia Companies 1.2.1
      • Plymouth Council for New England 1.2.2
      • French and Indian Wars 1.2.3
      • Dominion of New England 1.2.4
    • New England in the new nation 1.3
      • Postrevolutionary New England 1.3.1
      • Industrial Revolution 1.3.2
      • Anti-slavery 1.3.3
    • 20th century and beyond 1.4
      • Great Depression 1.4.1
      • Deindustrialization 1.4.2
  • Geography 2
    • Geology 2.1
    • Climate 2.2
  • Demographics 3
    • Largest cities 3.1
  • Economy 4
    • Overview 4.1
    • Exports 4.2
    • Agriculture 4.3
    • Energy 4.4
    • Employment 4.5
  • Government 5
    • History 5.1
    • Town meetings 5.2
    • Politics 5.3
    • Elections 5.4
      • Political party strength 5.4.1
      • New Hampshire primary 5.4.2
  • Education 6
    • Colleges and universities 6.1
    • Private and independent secondary schools 6.2
    • Public education 6.3
    • Academic journals and press 6.4
  • Culture 7
    • Cultural roots 7.1
    • Accents 7.2
    • Social activities and music 7.3
    • Media 7.4
      • Comedy 7.4.1
    • Literature 7.5
    • Film, television, and acting 7.6
  • Sports 8
    • Professional and semi-professional sports teams 8.1
  • Transportation 9
  • See also 10
  • Notes 11
  • References 12
  • Further reading 13
  • External links 14


Eastern Algonquian peoples

The earliest known inhabitants of New England were American Indians who spoke a variety of the Eastern Algonquian languages.[4] Prominent tribes included the Abenaki, Penobscot, Pequot, Mohegans, Narragansett Indians, Pocumtuck, and Wampanoag.[4] Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the Western Abenakis inhabited New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont, as well as parts of Quebec and western Maine.[5] Their principal town was Norridgewock, in present-day Maine.[6]

The Penobscot lived along the Penobscot River in Maine. The Wampanoag occupied southeastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. The Pocumtucks lived in Western Massachusetts, and the Mohegan and Pequot tribes in the Connecticut region. The Connecticut River Valley, which includes parts of Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut, linked different indigenous communities culturally, linguistically, and politically.[4]

As early as 1600, French, Dutch, and English traders, exploring the New World, began to trade metal, glass, and cloth for local beaver pelts.[4][7]

Colonial Period

The Virginia Companies

On April 10, 1606, King James I of England issued a charter for each of the Virginia Companies, London and Plymouth. These were privately funded ventures, intended to claim land for England, trade, and return a profit. In 1620, Plymouth in Massachusetts was settled by Pilgrims from the Mayflower, beginning the history of permanent European settlement in New England.[8]

Plymouth Council for New England

Title page of John Smith's A Description of New England (1616)

In 1616, English explorer John Smith named the region "New England".[9] The name was officially sanctioned on November 3, 1620,[10] 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.[11] As the first colonists arrived in Plymouth, they wrote and signed the Mayflower Compact,[12] their first governing document.[13] The Massachusetts Bay Colony, which would come to dominate the area, was established by royal charter in 1629[14][15] with its major town and port of Boston established in 1630.[16]

Massachusetts Puritans began to settle in Connecticut as early as 1633.[17] Roger Williams, banished from Massachusetts for heresy, led a group south, and founded Providence, in the area that later became the state of Rhode Island, in 1636.[18][19] At this time, Vermont was yet unsettled, and the territories of New Hampshire and Maine were claimed and governed by Massachusetts.[20]

French and Indian Wars

An early English map of New England, c. 1670, depicts the area around modern Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Relationships between colonists and Native Americans alternated between peace and armed skirmishes, the bloodiest of which was the Pequot War in 1643, which resulted in the Mystic massacre.[21] On May 19, 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, and gained some importance during King Philip's War.[22] From June of 1675 through April of 1678, King Philip's War pitted the colonists and their Native American allies against a widespread Native American uprising, resulting in killings and massacres on both sides.[23]

During the next 74 years, there were six colonial wars that took place primarily between New England and New France (see the French and Indian Wars as well as Father Rale's War and Father Le Loutre's War). Throughout these wars, New England was allied with the Iroquois Confederacy and New France was allied with the Wabanaki Confederacy. After the New England Conquest of Acadia in 1710, mainland Nova Scotia was under the control of New England, but both present-day New Brunswick and virtually all of present-day Maine remained contested territory between New England and New France. After the British won the war in 1763, the Connecticut River Valley was opened for British settlement into western New Hampshire and what is today Vermont.

The New England colonies were settled largely by farmers, who became relatively self-sufficient. Later, aided by the Puritan work ethic, New England's economy began to focus on crafts and trade, in contrast to the Southern colonies, which focused on agricultural production while importing finished goods from England.[24]

Dominion of New England

The First Flag (and Ensign) of New England, used by colonial merchant ships sailing out of New England ports, 1686-c.1737[25][26]
New England's Siege of Louisbourg (1745) by Peter Monamy.

By 1686, King James II had become concerned about the increasingly independent ways of the colonies, including their self-governing charters, their open flouting of the Navigation Acts, and their growing military power. He therefore established the Dominion of New England, an administrative union comprising all of the New England colonies.[27] In 1688, the former Dutch colonies of New York, East New Jersey, and West New Jersey were added to the Dominion. The union, imposed from the outside and contrary to the rooted democratic tradition of the region, was highly unpopular among the colonists.[28]

The Dominion significantly modified the charters of the colonies, including the appointment of Royal Governors to nearly all of them. There was an uneasy tension 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 governors.[29]

After the Glorious Revolution in 1689, Bostonians overthrew the royal governor, Sir Edmund Andros. They seized dominion officials and adherents to the Church of England during a popular and bloodless uprising.[30] These tensions eventually culminated in the American Revolution, boiling over with the outbreak of the War of American Independence in 1775. The first battles of the war were fought in Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, later leading to the Siege of Boston by continental troops. In March of 1776, British forces were compelled to retreat from Boston.

New England in the new nation

Boston College: The architecture style is Collegiate Gothic, a subgenre of Gothic Revival architecture, a 19th-century movement.

Postrevolutionary New England

After the War of Independence, New England ceased to be a meaningful political unit, but remained a defined cultural region consisting of its now-sovereign constituent states. By 1784, all of the states in the region had taken steps towards the abolition of slavery, with Vermont and Massachusetts introducing total abolition in 1777 and 1783, respectively.[31] The nickname "Yankeeland" was sometimes used to denote the New England area, especially among Southerners and British.[32]

During the War of 1812, there was a movement within New England for secession from the United States as New England merchants, only beginning to recover, opposed war with their greatest trading partner—Great Britain.[33] Delegates met in the Hartford Convention in the winter of 1814–15. The twenty-seven delegates met to discuss changes to the U.S. Constitution to protect the region's interests and maintain its political power, feeling used as pawns in the focus on trade restrictions.[34]

After settling a dispute with New York, Vermont was admitted to statehood in 1791, formally completing the defined area of New England. On March 15, 1820, as part of the Missouri Compromise, the territory of Maine, formerly a part of Massachusetts, was admitted to the Union as a free state.[35] Today, New England is defined as made up of the six states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.[36]

For the rest of the period before the William H. Prescott.[38]

Industrial Revolution

New England was key to the industrial revolution in the U.S.[39] The Blackstone Valley, running through Massachusetts and Rhode Island, has been called the birthplace of America's industrial revolution.[40] In 1787, the first cotton mill in America, the Beverly Cotton Manufactory, was founded in the North Shore seaport of Beverly, Massachusetts.[41] The Manufactory was also considered the largest cotton mill of its time. Technological developments and achievements from the Manufactory led to the development of more advanced cotton mills, including Slater Mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Towns such as Lawrence and Lowell in Massachusetts, Woonsocket in Rhode Island, and Lewiston in Maine became centers of the textile industry following the innovations at Slater Mill and the Beverly Cotton Manufactory.

The rapid growth of textile manufacturing in New England between 1815 and 1860 caused a shortage of workers. Recruiters were hired by mill agents to bring young women and children from the countryside to work in the factories. Between 1830 and 1860, thousands of farm girls such as the famous Lowell Mill Girls moved from rural areas where there was no paid employment to work in the nearby mills. As the textile industry grew, immigration also grew. By the 1850s, immigrants, especially Irish and French Canadians, began working in the mills.[42]

New England was, as a whole, the most industrialized part of the young United States; by 1850, it accounted for well over a quarter of all manufacturing value in the country, and over a third of its industrial workforce.[43] It was also the most literate and most educated region in the country.[43]


During the same period, New England and areas settled by New Englanders (upstate New York, Ohio's Western Reserve, and the upper midwestern states of Michigan and Wisconsin) were the center of the strongest abolitionist and anti-slavery movements in the United States, coinciding with the Protestant Great Awakening in the region.[44] Abolitionists who demanded immediate emancipation such as William Lloyd Garrison, John Greenleaf Whittier and Wendell Phillips had their base in the region. So too did anti-slavery politicians who wanted to limit the growth of slavery, such as John Quincy Adams, Charles Sumner, and John P. Hale. When the anti-slavery Republican Party was formed in the 1850s, all of New England, including areas that had previously been strongholds for both the Whig and the Democratic Parties, became strongly Republican. New England remained solidly Republican until Catholics began to mobilize behind the Democrats, especially in 1928.

20th century and beyond

Autumn in New England, watercolor, Maurice Prendergast. Ca. 1910–1913

The flow of immigrants continued at a steady pace from the 1840s until cut off by World War I. The largest numbers came from Ireland and Britain before 1890, and after that from Quebec, Italy and Southern Europe. The immigrants filled the ranks of factory workers, craftsmen and unskilled laborers. The Irish assumed a larger and larger role in the Democratic Parts in the cities and statewide, while the rural areas remained Republican. Yankees left the farms, which never were highly productive; many headed west, while others became professionals and businessmen in the New England cities.

Great Depression

The Great Depression in the United States of the 1930s hit the region hard, with high unemployment in the industrial cities. The Democrats appealed to factory workers and especially Catholics, pulling them into the New Deal coalition and making the once-Republican region into one that was closely divided. However the enormous spending on munitions, ships, electronics, and uniforms during World War II caused a burst of prosperity in every sector.


Fall foliage in the town of Stowe, Vermont

The region lost most of its factories starting with the loss of textiles starting in the 1930s and getting worse after 1960. The New England economy was radically transformed after World War II. The factory economy practically disappeared. The textile mills one by one went out of business from the 1920s to the 1970s. For example the Crompton Company, after 178 years in business, went bankrupt in 1984, costing the jobs of 2,450 workers in five states. The major reasons were cheap imports, the strong dollar, declining exports, and a failure to diversify.[45] Shoes followed. What remains is very high technology manufacturing, such as jet engines, nuclear submarines, pharmaceuticals, robotics, scientific instruments, and medical devices. MIT (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) invented the format for university-industry relations in high tech fields, and spawned many software and hardware firms, some of which grew rapidly.[46] By the 21st century the region had become famous for its leadership roles in the fields of education, medicine and medical research, high-technology, finance, and tourism.[47]

Some industrial areas were slow in adjusting to the new service economy. In 2000, New England had two of the ten poorest cities (by percentage living below the poverty line) in the U.S.: the state capitals of Providence, Rhode Island and Hartford, Connecticut.[48] They were no longer in the bottom ten by 2010; Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire remain among the ten wealthiest states in the United States in terms of median household income and per capita income.[49]


A political and geographical map of New England shows the coastal plains in the east and hills, mountains, and valleys in the west and the north.
A portion of the north-central Pioneer Valley in Sunderland, Massachusetts

The states of New England have a combined area of 71,991.8 sq mi (186,458 km2), making the region slightly larger than the state of Washington and larger than England.[50][51] Maine alone constitutes nearly one-half of the total area of New England, yet is only the 39th-largest state, slightly smaller than Indiana. The remaining states are among the smallest in the U.S., including the smallest state, Rhode Island.


New England's long rolling hills, mountains, and jagged coastline are glacial landforms resulting from the retreat of ice sheets approximately 18,000 years ago, during the last glacial period.[52][53]

New England is geologically a part of the New England province, an exotic terrane region consisting of the Appalachian Mountains, the New England highlands, and the seaboard lowlands.[54] The Appalachian Mountains roughly follow the border between New England and New York. The Berkshires in Massachusetts and Connecticut, and the Green Mountains in Vermont, as well as the Taconic Mountains, form a spine of Precambrian rock.[55]

The Appalachians extend northwards into New Hampshire as the White Mountains, and then into Maine and Canada. Mount Washington in New Hampshire is the highest peak in the Northeast and the second-highest peak in the Appalachian Mountain system, at 6,288 ft (1,917 m).[56] It is the site of the second highest recorded wind speed on Earth,[57][58] and has the reputation of having the world's most severe weather.[56][59]

The coast of the region, extending from southwestern Connecticut to northeastern Maine, is dotted with lakes, hills, marshes and wetlands, and sandy beaches.[53] Important valleys in the region include the Connecticut River Valley and the Merrimack Valley.[53] The longest river is the Connecticut River, which flows from northeastern New Hampshire for 655 km (407 mi), emptying into Long Island Sound, roughly bisecting the region. Lake Champlain, wedged between Vermont and New York, is the largest lake in the region, followed by Moosehead Lake in Maine and Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire.[53]


The White Mountains of New Hampshire are part of the Appalachian Mountains.

The climate of New England varies greatly across its 500 miles (800 km) span from northern Maine to southern Connecticut:

Interior Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and western Massachusetts have a humid continental climate (Dfb in Köppen climate classification). In this region the winters are long, cold, and heavy snow is common (most locations receive 60 to 120 inches (1,500 to 3,000 mm) of snow annually in this region). The summer’s months are moderately warm, though summer is rather short and rainfall is spread through the year.

Central and eastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and most of Connecticut, the same humid continental prevails (Dfa), though summers are warm to hot, winters are shorter, and there is less snowfall (especially in the coastal areas where it is often warmer).

Southern and coastal Connecticut is the broad transition zone from the cold continental climates of the north to the milder temperate/subtropical climates to the south. The frost free season is greater than 180 days across far southern/coastal Connecticut, coastal Rhode Island, and the islands (Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard). Winters also tend to be much sunnier in southern Connecticut and southern Rhode Island compared to the rest of New England.[60]


Boston is considered the cultural and historical capital of New England.[63][64]
Largest self-reported ancestry groups in New England. Americans of Irish descent form a plurality in most of Massachusetts, and Americans of English descent form a plurality in much of the central parts of Vermont and New Hampshire as well as nearly all of Maine.

In 2010, New England had a population of 14,444,865, a growth of 3.8% from 2000.[65] This grew to an estimated 14,618,806 by 2013.[2] Massachusetts is the most populous state with 6,547,629 residents, while Vermont is the least populous state with 625,741 residents.[65] Boston is by far the region's most populous city and metropolitan area. According to the 2006–08 American Community Survey, 48.7% of New Englanders were male and 51.3% were female. Approximately 22.4% of the population were under 18 years of age; 13.5% were over 65 years of age. The six states of New England have the lowest birth rate in the U.S.[66]

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. New England has a significantly denser population than that of the U.S. as a whole (79.56/sq mi), or even just the contiguous 48 states (94.48/sq mi). Three-quarters of the population of New England, and most of the major cities, are in the states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. The combined population density of these states is 786.83/sq mi, compared to northern New England's 63.56/sq mi (2000 census).

In terms of race and ethnicity, White Americans made up 84.9% of New England's population, of which 81.2% were whites of non-Hispanic origin. Black Americans composed 5.7% of the region's population, of which 5.3% were blacks of non-Hispanic origin.

Hispanic and Latino Americans are New England's largest minority, and they are the second-largest group in the region behind non-Hispanic European Americans. Hispanics and Latinos of any race made up 7.9% of New England's population, and there were over 1.1 million Hispanic and Latino individuals reported in the survey. Puerto Ricans were the most numerous of the Hispanic and Latino subgroups. Over half a million (507,000) Puerto Ricans live in New England, forming 3.6% of the population. The Dominican and Mexican populations are both just over 100,000 each.[67] Americans of Cuban descent are scant in number; there were roughly 20,000 Cuban Americans in the region. People of all other Hispanic and Latino ancestries, including Salvadoran, Colombian, and Bolivian, formed 3.5% of New England's population, and numbered over 492,000 combined.[68]

According to the 2006–2008 survey, the top ten largest European ancestries were the following:

English is, by far, the most common language spoken at home. Approximately 82.7% of all residents (11.1 million people) over the age of five spoke only English at home. Roughly 885,000 people (6.6% of the population) spoke Spanish at home, and roughly 1,023,000 people (7.6% of the population) spoke other Indo-European languages at home. Over 313,000 people (2.3% of the population) spoke an Asian or Pacific Island language at home. Slightly fewer (about 2%) spoke French at home, although this figure is above 20% in northern New England, which borders francophone Québec.[69] Roughly 99,000 people (0.7% of the population) spoke languages other than these at home.

Approximately 86% of New England's inhabitants were born in the U.S., while over ten percent were foreign-born. Thirty-five percent of foreign-born residents were born in Latin America, 27.9% were born in Europe, 24.5% were born in Asia, and 6.9% were born in Africa.[70]

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 U.S.; only New Jersey has a higher population density than the states of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

Greater Boston, which includes parts of southern New Hampshire, has a total population of approximately 4.4 million,[71] while over half the population of New England falls inside Boston's Combined Statistical Area of over 7.4 million.[72]

Largest cities

Downtown Manchester, New Hampshire
Providence, Rhode Island

The most populous cities as of the 2012 Census were (metropolitan areas in parentheses):[73]

  1. Boston, Massachusetts: 636,479 (4,552,402)
  2. Worcester, Massachusetts: 182,669 (798,552)
  3. Providence, Rhode Island: 182,042 (1,600,852)
  4. Springfield, Massachusetts: 153,155 (692,942)
  5. Bridgeport, Connecticut: 147,216 (916,829)
  6. New Haven, Connecticut: 130,741 (862,477)
  7. Stamford, Connecticut: 126,456 (part of Bridgeport's MSA)
  8. Hartford, Connecticut: 124,893 (1,212,381)
  9. Waterbury, Connecticut: 110,366 (228,984)
  10. Manchester, New Hampshire: 110,209 (400,721)
  11. Lowell, Massachusetts: 108,522 (315,158)
  12. Cambridge, Massachusetts: 105,162 (part of Greater Boston)

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 U.S. 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.[74]


Hartford, once known as the "Insurance Capital of the World"[75]


Several factors combine to make the New England economy unique. The region is distant from the geographic center of the country, and is a relatively small region, and relatively densely populated. It historically has been an important center of industrial manufacturing and a supplier of natural resource products, such as granite, lobster, and codfish. New England exports food products, ranging from fish to lobster, cranberries, Maine potatoes, and maple syrup. The service industry is 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 U.S. economy.[76]

In the first half of the 20th century, the region underwent a long period of deindustrialization as traditional manufacturing companies relocated to the Midwest, with textile and furniture manufacturing migrating to the South. In the mid-to-late 20th century, an increasing portion of the regional economy included high technology (including computer and electronic equipment manufacturing), military defense industry, finance and insurance services, as well as education and health services.

As of 2013, the GDP of New England was $900.8 billion.[77]


Old Port (Wharf Street), in Portland, Maine

Exports consist mostly of industrial products, including specialized machines and weaponry (aircraft and missiles especially), 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,[78] guns made at Springfield, Massachusetts and Saco, Maine, boats at Groton, Connecticut and Bath, Maine, and hand tools at Turners Falls, Massachusetts. Insurance is a driving force in and around Hartford, Connecticut.[76]

Vermont Maple Syrup


Agriculture is limited by the area's rocky soil, cool climate, and small area. Some New England states, however, are ranked highly among U.S. states for particular areas of production. Maine is ranked ninth for aquaculture,[79] and has abundant potato fields in its northeast part. Vermont is fifteenth for dairy products,[80] and Connecticut and Massachusetts seventh and eleventh for tobacco, respectively.[81][82] Cranberries are grown in Massachusetts' Cape Cod-Plymouth-South Shore area, and blueberries in Maine.


Three of the six New England states are among the country's highest consumers of nuclear power: Vermont (first, 73.7%), Connecticut (fourth, 48.9%), and New Hampshire (sixth, 46%).[83] The region is mostly energy-efficient compared to the U.S. at large, with every state but Maine ranking within the ten most energy-efficient states;[84] every state in New England also ranks within the ten most expensive states for electricity prices.[85]


Unemployment Rates in New England
Employment Area October 2010 October 2011 October 2012 October 2013 April 2014 Net change
United States 9.7 9.0 7.9 7.2 6.3 −3.4
New England 8.3 7.6 7.4 7.1 6.1 −2.2
Connecticut 9.1 8.7 9.0 7.6 6.9 −2.2
Maine 7.6 7.3 7.4 6.5 5.9 −1.7
Massachusetts 8.3 7.3 6.6 7.2 6.0 −2.3
New Hampshire 5.7 5.3 5.7 5.2 4.4 −1.3
Rhode Island 11.5 10.4 10.4 9.4 8.3 −3.2
Vermont 5.9 5.6 5.5 4.4 3.3 −2.6

As of April 2014, the metropolitan statistical area (MSA) with the lowest unemployment rate, 2.8%, was Burlington-South Burlington, Vermont; the MSA with the highest rate, 9.6%, was Lawrence-Methuen-Salem, in Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire. Vermont had the second-lowest unemployment rate in the US at 3.3%, while Rhode Island had the highest at 8.3%.[86]



The early European settlers of New England were English Protestants fleeing religious persecution. Despite this, religion was legislated to an extreme in the colonies they founded (with the exception of Rhode Island),[87] and those who deviated from the established doctrine were persecuted greatly: famous figures like Anne Hutchinson and Mary Dyer often faced ostracism, degradation, and in the latter's case, martyrdom for taking on the patriarchs that often formed both the legal and church systems common to every town, including Boston (founded c. 1630.) In the beginning, there was no separation of church and state, and the activities of the individual were severely restricted.[88] Though modern New England is noted for its more liberal leanings in national and local elections, its earliest laws and social attitudes were quite the contrary: Jews, Catholics, and Quakers were often targets of persecution and outright banned in the first case. Females were considered their husband's property and though (unlike women in several other colonies) they were taught to read, it was mainly to read the Bible and nothing else. This contrasts sharply with the strong principles of separation of church and state underlying the foundation of Rhode Island. 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.[89]

Town meetings

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 U.S. 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

By contrast, James Madison 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."[91] 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.[92]


Same-sex marriage is permitted in all six New England states.[93]


State and national elected officials in New England are mainly elected from the Democratic Party.[94] The region is generally considered to be the most liberal in the U.S., with more New Englanders identifying as liberals than Americans elsewhere. In 2010, four of six of the New England states were polled as the most liberal in the U.S.; Maine and New Hampshire were also more liberal than the bottom-half.[95]

The six states of New England voted for the Democratic Presidential nominee in the 1992, 1996, 2004, 2008, and 2012 elections, and every state but New Hampshire voted for Al Gore in the presidential election of 2000. In the 113th Congress the House delegations from all six states of New England are all Democratic. New England is home to the only two independents currently serving in the U.S. Senate: Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist,[96][97] representing Vermont; and Angus King, an Independent representing Maine.

In the 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama carried all six New England states by 9 percentage points or more.[98] He carried every county in New England except for Piscataquis County, Maine, which he lost by 4% to Senator John McCain (R-AZ). As of the 2010 census, New England collectively has 33 electoral votes.

Political party strength

Judging purely by party registration rather than voting patterns, New England today is one of the most Democratic regions in the U.S.,[99][100][101] with five of the six states considered among the most solidly Democratic in the country. New Hampshire is generally a swing state in federal elections.[102] Republicans in New England are considered by both liberals and conservatives to be more moderate (even socially liberal) compared to Republicans in other parts of the U.S.[103]

Elected as an independent, but caucuses with the Democratic Party.
State Governor Senior U.S. Senator Junior U.S. Senator U.S. House Delegation Upper House Majority Lower House Majority
CT D. Malloy R. Blumenthal C. Murphy Democratic 5–0 Democratic 22–14 Democratic 99–52
ME P. LePage S. Collins A. King[†] Democratic 2–0 Democratic 19–15–1 Democratic 86–60–3
MA D. Patrick E. Warren E. Markey Democratic 9–0 Democratic 36–4 Democratic 128–31–1
NH M. Hassan J. Shaheen K. Ayotte Democratic 2–0 Republican 13–11 Democratic 222–178
RI L. Chafee J. Reed S. Whitehouse Democratic 2–0 Democratic 29–8–1 Democratic 69–6
VT P. Shumlin P. Leahy B. Sanders[†] Democratic 1–0 Democratic 20–8–2 Democratic 96–46–8

New Hampshire primary

Alumni Hall at Saint Anselm College has served as a backdrop for the media reports during the New Hampshire primary.

Historically, the New Hampshire primary has been the first in a series of nationwide political party primary elections held in the United States every four years. Held in the state of New Hampshire, it usually marks the beginning of the U.S. presidential election process. Even though few delegates are chosen from New Hampshire, the primary has always been pivotal to both New England and American politics. One college in particular, Saint Anselm College, has been home to numerous national presidential debates and visits by candidates to its campus.[104]


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 U.S. The first such institution, subsequently named Harvard College, was founded at Cambridge, Massachusetts, to train preachers, in 1636. Yale University was founded in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, in 1701, and awarded the nation's first doctoral (PhD) degree in 1861. Yale moved to New Haven, Connecticut, in 1718, where it has remained to the present day.

Brown University, the first college in the nation to accept students of all religious affiliations, and the seventh-oldest U.S. 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. The University of Vermont, the fifth oldest university in New England, was founded in 1791, the same year Vermont joined the Union.

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, the bulk of institutions identified as the Little Ivies, one of the eight original Public Ivies, the Colleges of Worcester Consortium in central Massachusetts, and the Five Colleges consortium in western Massachusetts.

Private and independent secondary schools

At the pre-college level, New England is home to a number of 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.[105] The region has several of the highest ranked high schools in the U.S., including the Maine School of Science and Mathematics located in Limestone, Maine.[106]

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

Public education

Boston Latin School, established in 1635, is the oldest public school in the U.S.

New England is home to some of the oldest public schools in the nation. Boston Latin School is the oldest public school in America, and was attended by several signatories of the Declaration of Independence.[107] Hartford Public High School is the second oldest operating high school in the U.S.[108]

As of 2005, the National Education Association ranked Connecticut as having the highest-paid teachers in the country. Massachusetts and Rhode Island ranked eighth and ninth, respectively.

Three New England states, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont, have cooperated in developing a New England Common Assessment Program test under the No Child Left Behind guidelines. These states can compare the resultant scores with each other.

Maine's Maine Learning Technology Initiative program supplies all students with Apple MacBook laptops.

Academic journals and press

There are several academic journals and publishing companies in the region, including The New England Journal of Medicine, Harvard University Press, and Yale University Press. Some 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.[109]


Cushing house, Hingham, Massachusetts
Classic New England Congregationalist church in Peacham, Vermont

New England has a shared heritage and culture primarily shaped by waves of immigration from Europe.[110] In contrast to other American regions, many of New England's earliest Puritan settlers came from eastern England, contributing to New England's distinctive accents, foods, customs, and social structures.[111] Within modern New England a cultural divide exists between urban New Englanders living along the densely populated coastline, and rural New Englanders in western Massachusetts, northwestern and northeastern Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, where population density is low.[112]

Today, New England is the least religious part of the U.S. In 2009, less than half of those polled in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont claimed that religion was an important part of their daily lives. In Connecticut and Rhode Island, also among the ten least religious states, 55 and 53 percent, respectively, of those polled claimed that it was.[113] According to the American Religious Identification Survey, 34 percent of Vermonters, a plurality, claimed to have no religion; on average, nearly one out of every four New Englanders identifies as having no religion, more than in any other part of the U.S.[114] New England had one of the highest percentages of Catholics in the U.S. This number declined from 50% in 1990 to 36% in 2008.[114]

Cultural roots

The first European colonists of New England had a maritime orientation, favoring whaling (first noted about 1650[115]) 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 has a reputation 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.

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. As of 2014 the region has become more ethnically diverse, having seen waves of immigration from Ireland, Quebec, Italy, Portugal, Poland, Asia, Latin America, Africa, other parts of the U.S., and elsewhere. The enduring European influence can be seen in the region: the use of traffic rotaries; the bilingual French and English towns of northern Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire; the sprinkled use of British spelling; the region's heavy prevalence of English town- and county-names; and its unique, often non-rhotic coastal dialect reminiscent of southeastern England.

Within New England, many names of towns (and a few counties) repeat from state to state, primarily due to settlers throughout the region having named their new towns after their old ones. For example, every New England state has a town named Warren. As another example, every state except Rhode Island has a city or town named Franklin; in addition, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine each contain a Franklin County.


There are several American English accents spoken in the region including New England English and Boston Accent.

The Boston accent is native to the region. Many of its most identifiable features (such as r dropping and the so-called broad A) are believed to have originated in Boston from the influence of England's Received Pronunciation, 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 and The Departed. The Boston accent and those accents closely related to it cover eastern Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine.[116]

Some Rhode Islanders speak with a non-rhotic accent that many compare to a "Brooklyn" accent or a cross between a New York and Boston accent ("water" becomes "wata"). Many Rhode Islanders distinguish the aw sound [ɔː], as one might hear in New Jersey; e.g., the word coffee is pronounced [ˈkɔːfiː] .[117] This type of accent was brought to the region by early settlers from eastern England in the Puritan migration in the mid-seventeenth century.[118]

Social activities and music

In much of rural New England, particularly Maine, Acadian and Québécois culture are included in music and dance. Contra dancing and country square dancing are popular throughout New England, usually backed by live Irish, Acadian, or other folk music. Another common form of music common especially in southern New England, and more specifically Connecticut, is Fife and drum corps, with music of mostly Celtic, English, and local origin.

Opera houses and theaters, like the Vergennes Opera House in Vergennes, Vermont, are popular in New England towns.

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. 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. New England leads the U.S. in ice cream consumption per capita.[119][120]

In the U.S., candlepin bowling is essentially confined to New England, where it was invented in the 19th century.[121]

New England was for some time an important center of American classical music. The Second New England School was instrumental in reinvigorating the tradition in the U.S. Prominent modernist composers also come from the region, including Charles Ives and John Adams. Boston is the site of the New England Conservatory, the Yale School of Music and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

In rock music, the region has produced Aerosmith, The Modern Lovers, Phish, the Pixies, and Boston. Dick Dale, a Quincy, Massachusetts native, helped popularize surf rock.


The leading U.S. cable TV sports broadcaster ESPN is headquartered in Bristol, Connecticut. New England has several regional cable networks, including New England Cable News (NECN) and the New England Sports Network (NESN). New England Cable News is the largest regional 24-hour cable news network in the U.S., 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, and it maintains bureaus in Manchester, New Hampshire; Hartford, Connecticut; Worcester, Massachusetts; Portland, Maine; and Burlington, Vermont.[122] In Connecticut, Litchfield, Fairfield, and New Haven counties it also broadcasts New York based news programs—this is due in part to the immense influence New York has on this region's economy and culture, and also to give Connecticut broadcasters the ability to compete with overlapping media coverage from New York-area broadcasters.

NESN broadcasts the Boston Red Sox baseball and Boston Bruins hockey throughout the region, save for Fairfield County, Connecticut.[123] Most of Connecticut, save for Windham county in the state's northeast corner, and even southern Rhode Island, receives the YES Network, which broadcasts the games of the New York Yankees. For the most part, the same areas also carry SportsNet New York (SNY), which broadcasts New York Mets games.

Comcast SportsNet New England broadcasts the games of the Boston Celtics, New England Revolution and Boston Cannons.

While most New England cities have daily newspapers, The Boston Globe and The New York Times are distributed widely throughout the region. Major newspapers also include The Providence Journal, Portland Press Herald, and Hartford Courant, the oldest continuously published newspaper in the U.S.[124]


New Englanders are well represented in American comedy. Writers for The Simpsons and late-night television programs often come by way of the Harvard Lampoon. Family Guy, an animated sitcom situated in Rhode Island, as well as American Dad and The Cleveland Show, were created by Connecticut native and Rhode Island School of Design graduate Seth MacFarlane. A number of Saturday Night Live (SNL) cast members have origins in New England, from Adam Sandler to Amy Poehler, who also stars in the NBC television series Parks and Recreation. Former Daily Show show correspondents Rob Corddry and Steve Carell are from Massachusetts, with the latter also being involved in film and the American adaptation of The Office. The American "Office" also featured Dunder-Mifflin branches set in Stamford, Connecticut and Nashua, New Hampshire.

Late-night television hosts Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien have origins in the Boston area. Notable stand-up comedians, including Bill Burr, Dane Cook, Steve Sweeney, Steven Wright, Sarah Silverman, Lisa Lampanelli, Denis Leary, Lenny Clarke, and Louis CK, are also from the region. SNL cast member Seth Meyers once attributed the region's imprint on American humor to its "sort of wry New England sense of pointing out anyone who's trying to make a big deal of himself", with the Boston Globe suggesting that irony and sarcasm, as well as Irish influences, are its trademarks.[125]


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

The literature of New England has had an enduring influence on American literature in general, with themes such as religion, race, the individual versus society, social repression, and nature, emblematic of the larger concerns of American letters.[126]

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.

Film, television, and acting

New England, now known as Hollywood East, has a rich history in filmmaking, dating back to the dawn of the motion picture era at the turn of the 20th century. A theater at 547 Washington Street in Boston was the second location to ever debut a picture projected by the Vitascope, and shortly thereafter several of novels that had been set in New England were being adapted for the screen, including The Scarlet Letter and The House of Seven Gables.[127] The New England region continued to churn out films at a pace above the national average for the duration of the 20th century, including blockbuster hits like Jaws, Goodwill Hunting, and The Departed, all of which won Oscars. The New England area became known for a number of themes that recurred in films made during this era, including the development of yankee characters, smalltown life contrasted with city values, seafaring tales, family secrets, and haunted New England.[128] These themes, rooted in centuries of New England culture, are complemented by the region’s diverse natural landscape and architecture, from the Atlantic Ocean and brilliant fall foliage to church steeples and skyscrapers.

Since the turn of the millennium, Boston and the greater New England region have been home to a regionally unprecedented production of films and television series, thanks largely in part to tax incentive programs put in place by local governments to attract filmmakers to the region.[129]

Notable actors and actresses that have come out of the New England area including Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Amy Poehler, Elizabeth Banks, Steve Carell, Ruth Gordon, John Krasinski, Edward Norton, Mark Wahlberg, and Matthew Perry. A full list can be found here, and a listing of notable films and television series produced in the area here.


Two popular American sports were invented in New England. Basketball was invented by Holyoke, Massachusetts, in 1895.[131] Additionally, Walter Camp is credited with developing modern American football in New Haven, Connecticut in the 1870s and 1880s.[132]

New Hampshire Motor Speedway is an oval racetrack that has hosted several NASCAR and American Championship Car Racing races, whereas Lime Rock Park is a traditional road racing venue home of sports car races. Events at these venues have had the "New England" moniker, such as the NASCAR New England 300 and New England 200, the IndyCar Series New England Indy 200, and the American Le Mans Series New England Grand Prix.

Professional and semi-professional sports teams

Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, is the oldest operating ballpark in the U.S.

The major professional sports teams in New England are based in Massachusetts: the Boston Red Sox, the New England Patriots (based in Foxborough, Massachusetts), the Boston Celtics, the Boston Bruins, the Boston Cannons, the Boston Breakers, and the New England Revolution (also based in Foxborough). Hartford had a professional hockey team, the Hartford Whalers, from 1975 until they moved to North Carolina in 1997. Bridgeport had a professional lacrosse team, the Bridgeport Barrage, until they moved to Philadelphia and later ceased operation. A WNBA team, the Connecticut Sun, are based in southeastern Connecticut at the Mohegan Sun resort. Massachusetts is also the home of the Boston Blades, which is one of two professional women's ice hockey teams based in the United States.

There are also minor league baseball and hockey teams based in larger cities such as the Pawtucket Red Sox (baseball), the Providence Bruins (hockey), the Worcester Tornadoes (baseball), the Brockton Rox (baseball) and the Worcester Sharks (hockey), the Lowell Spinners (baseball), the Portland Sea Dogs (baseball) and the Portland Pirates (hockey), the Bridgeport Bluefish (baseball) and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (hockey), the Connecticut Tigers (baseball), the New Britain Rock Cats (baseball), the Vermont Lake Monsters (baseball), the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (baseball) and the Manchester Monarchs (hockey), the Connecticut Whale (hockey), and the Springfield Falcons (hockey).

The NBA Development League fields two teams in New England: the Maine Red Claws, based in Portland, Maine, and the Springfield Armor in Springfield, Massachusetts. The Red Claws are affiliated with the Boston Celtics and the Armor are affiliated with the Brooklyn Nets. New England is also represented in the Premier Basketball League by the Vermont Frost Heaves of Barre, Vermont and, until recently, the Manchester Millrats from Manchester, New Hampshire.

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 Patriots' 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, the race's difficulty and long history make it one of the world's most prestigious marathons.[133]


The MBTA Commuter Rail serves much of Massachusetts and parts of Rhode Island radiating from Downtown Boston, with plans for expansion into New Hampshire.[134][135]

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) provides rail and subway service within the Boston metropolitan area, bus service in Greater Boston, and commuter rail service throughout Eastern Massachusetts and parts of Rhode Island. The New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Metro-North Commuter Railroad provides rail, serving many commuters in Southwestern Connecticut, while the Connecticut Department of Transportation operates the Shore Line East commuter rail service along the Connecticut coastline east of New Haven.

Amtrak provides interstate rail service throughout New England. Boston is the northern terminus of the Northeast Corridor line. The Vermonter connects Vermont to Massachusetts and Connecticut, while the Downeaster links Maine to Boston.

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  • New York: Atlas of Historical County Boundaries; John H. Long, Editor; Compiled by Kathryn Ford Thorne; A Project of the Dr. William M. Scholl Center for Family and Community History; The new Berry Library; Simon & Schuster; 1993.
  • U.S. Census Bureau. "Census Regions and Divisions of the United States" PDF (1.06 MB). Retrieved May 11, 2005

Further reading

  • Hall, Donald, Burt Feintuch, and David H. Watters, eds. Encyclopedia of New England (Yale U.P. 2005), 1596 pp; the major scholarly resource to the geography, history and culture of the region. ISBN 0-300-10027-2
  • Bartlett, Ray et al. New England Trips. ISBN 1-74179-728-4
  • Berman, Eleanor. Eyewitness Travel Guides New England. ISBN 0-7566-2697-8
  • Chenoweth, James. Oddity Odyssey: A Journey Through New England's Colorful Past. Holt, 1996. Humorous travel guide. ISBN 0-8050-3671-7
  • Koistinen, David. Confronting Decline: The Political Economy of Deindustrialization in Twentieth-Century New England (2013)
  • Muse, Vance. The Smithsonian Guide to Historic America: Northern New England. Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1998. A photographic guide to historic sites in New England. ISBN 1-55670-635-9
  • Riess, Jana. The Spiritual Traveler Boston and New England: A Guide to Sacred Sites and Peaceful Places, HiddenSpring ISBN 1-58768-008-4
  • Sletcher, Michael. New England: The Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Regional Cultures (2004)
  • Wiencek, Henry. The Smithsonian Guide to Historic America: Southern New England. Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1998. A photographic guide to historic sites in New England. ISBN 1-55670-633-2

External links

  • New England Governors Conference
  • Historic New England
  • Minuteman National Park Homepage - American Revolution battle site
  • Historic USGS Maps of New England & NY
  • Map of New England. From the 1871 Atlas of Massachusetts by Walling and Gray.
  • New England Music Archive
Online Discussion Groups
  • The Northeast States Forum @ Delphiforums

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