The 6 States of the Northeastern Region of the United States
Ready to use and deplete some braincells for this article contains fun and not relevant historical and geographical facts! The states that make up New England are Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Like every other piece of land on earth, New England holds history and culture that is shaped from past circumstances, ideologies and social processes. So, before we check out each state in New England, let’s see how the Northeastern Region of the U.S. came to be what it is today.
I. A Quick Look at the New England History
It wasn’t always called New England. It was first called Norther Virginia until it was discovered and named by the British explorer John Smith in 1614 in honor of King James of England. I guess John Smith chose ‘New England’ rather than ‘Other England’ or ‘England 2.0’. The region was then colonized by English Puritans (which were English Protestants). By the 17th century, there was an increase in public schools such as Harvard and Yale because of the societal trend of acquiring education and leadership. It now holds the most American literature and educational institutions in the U.S. In the 18th century, the New England patriots led the whole country towards independence and development as they have just recently gained and won independence from Great Britain.
The 1900’s for New England was the period of activism and reform. They pushed for appropriate self-control within individuals and improvements in prisons and asylums. They were even against slavery and child labor. As the industrial revolution took its stride, Irish and European laborers flooded the urban streets and factories New England. This caused a diversity in religion (i.e. Protestants and Catholics). In recent years, the laborers of the past century had taken job opportunities in the southern part of the country so New England strived in the economic enterprises of high-technology and service-based instead.
• New England Traditions
The traditional dances, food and activities had been brough over from the English, Scottish, French and other European cultures. You can’t really blame them because they were colonized by the English, housed French settlers and took in offshore laborers. You can’t avoid these cultures from mixing and combining to create the New England culture.
• Contra dancing
It is a folk dance where two long lines of male and female dancers move up the line and then come together. It is usually danced to traditional yet lively New England music. It is more known as the ‘Square Dance’, ‘Barn Dance’, ‘Kitchen Junket’, ‘Old Timers Ball’ and ‘The Dance’. I guess their forte isn’t really naming dances. Contra dancing was practiced in England, Scotland and France before it reached New England. By the 19th century, this dance was practiced and reformed throughout the country. To this day, the Contra dance (more known as the square dance) is known and done around the globe. May it be in an elegant ball or for a school project.
• Candlepin Bowling
While almost everybody in the U.S. knows bowling requires three fingers and good aim, in New England it’s a game of knocking candlepins (narrow pins that look like candles) down with a small, handheld ball. Invented in the late 18th century in Worcester, Massachusetts, the game’s regulations and equipment constantly changed from 1880 until the 1940s. Since then, there had been annual tournaments, a Hall of Fame, broken world records under candlepin bowling, and candlepin bowling teams in schools to compete against other schools.
• New England cuisine
If you google ‘New England Cuisine’ you’ll be greeted by the image of a lobster. Their cuisine has a reputation on seafood and dairy because of the many seaports and dairy farming in the past. For a region that has almost all of its states are beside the ocean, it isn’t much of a head scratcher that seafood is a part of their traditional cuisine.
• Salem Witch Trials
These trials began in 1692 in Salem Village, Massachusetts when a group of girls claimed to be possessed by the devil because some women in the community have been practicing witchcraft and making deals with the devil. These accusations were taken seriously and given court trials to come to a verdict. The first convicted and hanged witch was Bridget Bishop on June, 1692. But it didn’t stop there.
Mass hysteria arose and trials were held against women, men and even children. These convicted witches were only accused in the first place because misfortunes and bad luck was associated to witchcraft! So, imagine getting a bad grade or losing a job. As if these situations were bad enough, prying eyes will assume that you’re a witch! I think it’s safe to say that it is better to live in modern times where scientific inquiry and rationality is thriving rather than making sure your life is perfect when living in Salem in 1692.
Fortunately, the Massachusetts General Court came to their senses and dropped all charges to the witches to avoid further deaths. The suspicious and fearful community was not pleased and this caused Salem to look like a ghost town as its streets are both human and witch-free. This part of history shows how irrationality got to the best of us and how government is critical to settle disputes and keep the peace.
II. The 6 States of New England
Watch out as these states all have a number of nicknames that each have different back stories.
This state is more than where the headquarters of ESPN is. It is nicknamed ‘The Constitution State’ by the Connecticut General Assembly in 1959 because the U.S. Constitution is believed to be based on the first constitution of Connecticut. Connecticut is also unofficially called the ‘The Nutmeg State’ since they used to produce and sell fake nutmeg (wooden nutmeg) in the 18th and 19th centuries.
‘The Provisions State’ was another nickname of Connecticut during the American Revolution. A citizen of Connecticut was called Connecticotian or Connecticutensian in the 17th century, but now we call them Connecticuter or Nutmegger. If you want to visit Connecticut, you most definitely should go to the state’s capital- Hartford. In this city, you can see the 29 colleges and universities that make you want to be in college or go back again.
This massive state takes up almost half of the New England! It’s the largest in the region but only the 39th largest in the country. Taking the title of the most northeastern state of the U.S., it consists of the coastline, coastal cities and the wooded forests with mountains. All you can do is camp out, hike, fish, swim, surf, get on cruises, visit lighthouses, and get a tan. Although, it does snow during the winter, so snowboarding on the mountains of Maine is a part of the list. Maine is not completely blue and green as it’s also a culinary destination! It has local breweries, wineries, distilleries, and local cuisine restaurants.
Maine may have dominated land-wise, but Massachusetts contains half of the New England population! This state’s name is believed to come from the Indian words “massa” meaning “large,” “adchu” meaning “hill,” “es” which is a diminutive suffix and “et” which is a suffix that identifies a place. The ‘large hill’ is being referred to the dormant volcano- Great Blue Hill- in Milton, Massachusetts. It is officially known as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as written in the second draft of the state’s constitution. The first draft referred to the state as the State of Massachusetts Bay.
The official nickname is Bay State because of its 5 bays (i.e. Massachusetts Bay, Quincy Bay, Narragansett Bay, Buzzards Bay and Cape Cod Bay). If you want to know its unofficial names, they are the ‘Old Colony State’, the ‘Old Bay State’, the ‘Codfish State’, the ‘Pilgrim State’, the ‘Puritan State’, the ‘Baked Bean State’, and the ‘Spirit of America’. Now that’s a lot of names for a state! It’s mostly because it is where the Salem witch trials were held, it has plenty of cultural landmarks, historic buildings and museums in Boston, and it is the birthplace of the American Revolution. But let’s just keep calling it Massachusetts now, shall we?
• New Hampshire
If ‘Mount Washington’ and ‘White Mountains’ aren’t the only information you associated to New Hampshire, good for you! It is also known as the ‘Granite State’ because of the granite and granite quarries it has. It’s actually quite a famous name as there’s even a college named after it- Granite State College! The biggest city in New Hampshire by population is Manchester.
It has a population of 113,441 (World Population Review, 2020). But fear not as this city is no stranger to tourists! When visiting, there is a list of recreational activities to do, attractions to see and experience, and plenty of products to buy at the lowest costs because of the tax-free shopping! For all you who love bring home souvenirs, this is the place you won’t feel guilty to buy them at.
• Rhode Island
It is the smallest state in New England because it is the smallest state in the U.S.! This ‘Ocean State’ is mostly encompassed by the Atlantic Ocean and the Narragansett Bay. Since Rhode Island is one of the thirteen states established in the U.S., it has plenty of historical venues, sights and landmarks. Perfect place for history teachers to consider bring their students to on field trips! You’re welcome.
This state is the least populated among the 6 states. It’s the only state in New England that isn’t connect to the Atlantic Ocean! However, the 172-kilometer long Lake Champlain makes up for that loss. Although, going completely rural isn’t all that bad! I even have proof: John Deere grew up here! But fret not as Vermont does have little villages and large towns like its state capital- Montpelier.
III. Main Takeaways
If you have an upcoming quiz and you need a reviewer on New England, here it is! Or if you just love memorizing and stating facts to your friends and families, take note of these quick facts:
A. New England History:
Northern Virginia was renamed to ‘New England’ when it was discovered by John Smith in 1614. It was colonized by British folks and swarmed by French settlers.
A. New England Traditions are usually from English, Scottish, French and other European cultures.
B. Contra dancing is a folk dance where two long lines of male and female dancers move up the line and then come together. It is usually danced to lively, traditional New England music.
C. Candlepin Bowling is a type of bowling game that consists of knocking candle pins down with a small, handheld ball.
D. New England cuisine majorly consists of seafood and dairy products.
E. Salem Witch Trials were conducted because misfortunes and bad events were thought to be associated with witchcraft.
B. The 6 States of New England
D. New Hampshire
E. Rhode Island
Now that you’ve read this article, if ever someone asks you the question, “what states are in New England”, you’ll have the answer! The American Revolution didn’t sprout and spread from New England for it to not be known and remembered!
References World Population Review (2020). Manchester, New Hampshire Population 2020. Retrieved from https://worldpopulationreview.com/us-cities/manchester-nh-population.