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Puritans Leave for Massachusetts

On This Day... 1630, the last well-wishers stepped off the shipArabella and returned to shore. More than a week after the vessel first set out, the winds were finally favorable. The ship weighed anchor and sailed for New England. Governor John Winthrop and approximately 300 English Puritans were on board. They were leaving their homes in England to settle in a fledgling colony Massachusetts Bay on the other side of the Atlantic. There they would work "to do more service to the Lord." Governor Winthrop shepherded the Puritans through 12 years of enormous hardship. Under his leadership, Massachusetts Bay became the most populous English colony and Boston the largest city in North America.    Read more



Reading Launches Favorite Poem Project
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On This Day... 1998, 25 Bostonians, including the president of the Massachusetts Senate, a homeless man, and a fifth grade student, recited their favorite poems to a packed auditorium at the Boston Public Library. The president of the library came dressed in western attire, complete with bolo tie and hat, and read a cowboy poem. Others presented poems in Spanish, Vietnamese, and American Sign Language. The event helped launch the Favorite Poem Project, the brainchild of Boston-based poet Robert Pinsky, the 39th Poet Laureate of the United States. Over the next year, 18,000 Americans responded to Pinsky's call to share their favorite poems. Three anthologies, 50 video documentaries, and an award-winning website are the result.   Read More



Massachusetts Passes First Education Law

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On This Day... 1642, Massachusetts Bay Colony passed the first law in the New World requiring that children be taught to read and write. The English Puritans who founded Massachusetts believed that the well-being of individuals, along with the success of the colony, depended on a people literate enough to read both the Bible and the laws of the land. Concerned that parents were ignoring the first law, in 1647 Massachusetts passed another one requiring that all towns establish and maintain public schools. It would be many years before these schools were open to all children. Only in the mid-nineteenth century was universal free public schooling guaranteed in time, made compulsory for Massachusetts children.