Boston is the capital and most populous city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States. The city proper covers 48 square miles with an estimated population of 685,094 in 2017, making it the most populous city in New England. Boston is the seat of Suffolk County as well, although the county government was disbanded on July 1, 1999; the city is the economic and cultural anchor of a larger metropolitan area known as Greater Boston, a metropolitan statistical area home to a census-estimated 4.8 million people in 2016 and ranking as the tenth-largest such area in the country. As a combined statistical area, this wider commuting region is home to some 8.2 million people, making it the sixth-largest in the United States. Boston is one of the oldest cities in the United States, founded on the Shawmut Peninsula in 1630 by Puritan settlers from England, it was the scene of several key events of the American Revolution, such as the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, the Battle of Bunker Hill, the Siege of Boston.
Upon gaining U. S. independence from Great Britain, it continued to be an important port and manufacturing hub as well as a center for education and culture. The city has expanded beyond the original peninsula through land reclamation and municipal annexation, its rich history attracts many tourists, with Faneuil Hall alone drawing more than 20 million visitors per year. Boston's many firsts include the United States' first public park, first public or state school and first subway system; the Boston area's many colleges and universities make it an international center of higher education, including law, medicine and business, the city is considered to be a world leader in innovation and entrepreneurship, with nearly 2,000 startups. Boston's economic base includes finance and business services, information technology, government activities. Households in the city claim the highest average rate of philanthropy in the United States; the city has one of the highest costs of living in the United States as it has undergone gentrification, though it remains high on world livability rankings.
Boston's early European settlers had first called the area Trimountaine but renamed it Boston after Boston, England, the origin of several prominent colonists. The renaming on September 7, 1630, was by Puritan colonists from England who had moved over from Charlestown earlier that year in quest for fresh water, their settlement was limited to the Shawmut Peninsula, at that time surrounded by the Massachusetts Bay and Charles River and connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus. The peninsula is thought to have been inhabited as early as 5000 BC. In 1629, the Massachusetts Bay Colony's first governor John Winthrop led the signing of the Cambridge Agreement, a key founding document of the city. Puritan ethics and their focus on education influenced its early history. Over the next 130 years, the city participated in four French and Indian Wars, until the British defeated the French and their Indian allies in North America. Boston was the largest town in British America until Philadelphia grew larger in the mid-18th century.
Boston's oceanfront location made it a lively port, the city engaged in shipping and fishing during its colonial days. However, Boston stagnated in the decades prior to the Revolution. By the mid-18th century, New York City and Philadelphia surpassed Boston in wealth. Boston encountered financial difficulties as other cities in New England grew rapidly. Many of the crucial events of the American Revolution occurred near Boston. Boston's penchant for mob action along with the colonists' growing distrust in Britain fostered a revolutionary spirit in the city; when the British government passed the Stamp Act in 1765, a Boston mob ravaged the homes of Andrew Oliver, the official tasked with enforcing the Act, Thomas Hutchinson the Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts. The British sent two regiments to Boston in 1768 in an attempt to quell the angry colonists; this did not sit well with the colonists. In 1770, during the Boston Massacre, the army killed several people in response to a mob in Boston.
The colonists compelled the British to withdraw their troops. The event was publicized and fueled a revolutionary movement in America. In 1773, Britain passed the Tea Act. Many of the colonists saw the act as an attempt to force them to accept the taxes established by the Townshend Acts; the act prompted the Boston Tea Party, where a group of rebels threw an entire shipment of tea sent by the British East India Company into Boston Harbor. The Boston Tea Party was a key event leading up to the revolution, as the British government responded furiously with the Intolerable Acts, demanding compensation for the lost tea from the rebels; this led to the American Revolutionary War. The war began in the area surrounding Boston with the Battles of Concord. Boston itself was besieged for a year during the Siege of Boston, which began on April 19, 1775; the New England militia impeded the movement of the British Army. William Howe, 5th Viscount Howe the commander-in-chief of the British forces in North America, led the British army in the siege.
On June 17, the British captured the Charlestown peninsula in Boston, during the Battle of Bunker Hill. The British army outnumbered the militia stationed there, but it was a Py
James Otis Jr.
James Otis Jr. was a lawyer, political activist and legislator in Boston, a member of the Massachusetts provincial assembly, an early advocate of the Patriot views against British policy which led to the American Revolution. His well-known catchphrase "Taxation without Representation is tyranny" became the basic Patriot position. Otis was born in West Barnstable, the second of 13 children and the first to survive infancy, his sister Mercy Otis Warren, his brother Joseph Otis, his youngest brother Samuel Allyne Otis became leaders of the American Revolution, as did his nephew Harrison Gray Otis. His father Colonel James Otis Sr. was a prominent militia officer. Father and son had a tumultuous relationship, his father sent him a letter articulating his disappointments and encouraging him to seek God's righteousness to better himself. In 1755, Otis married Ruth Cunningham, a merchant's daughter and heiress to a fortune worth ₤10,000, their politics were quite different. Otis "half-complained that she was a'High Tory,'" yet in the same breath declared that "she was a good Wife, too good for him", in the words of John Adams.
The marriage produced children James and Mary. Their son James died at age 18, their daughter Elizabeth was a Loyalist like her mother. Their youngest daughter Mary married Benjamin Lincoln, son of the distinguished Continental Army General Benjamin Lincoln. Otis rose to the top of the Boston legal profession. In 1760, he received a prestigious appointment as Advocate General of the Admiralty Court, he promptly resigned, when Governor Francis Bernard failed to appoint his father to the promised position of Chief Justice of the province's highest court. Otis represented the merchants who were challenging the legality of the "writs of assistance" before the Superior Court, the predecessor of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court; these writs enabled British authorities to enter any home with no advance notice, no probable cause, no reason given. Otis considered himself a loyal British subject, yet he argued against the writs of assistance in a nearly five-hour oration before a select audience in the State House in February 1761.
His argument failed to win his case. John Adams recollected years later: "Otis was a flame of fire. Adams promoted Otis as a major player in the coming of the Revolution. Adams said, "I have been young and now I am old, I solemnly say I have never known a man whose love of country was more ardent or sincere, never one who suffered so much, never one whose service for any 10 years of his life were so important and essential to the cause of his country as those of Mr. Otis from 1760 to 1770." Adams claimed that "the child independence was and there born, every man of an immense crowded audience appeared to me to go away as I did, ready to take arms against writs of assistance." Otis expanded his argument in a pamphlet published in 1765 to state that the general writs violated the British constitution harkening back to the Magna Carta. The text of his 1761 speech was much enhanced by Adams on several occasions. According to James R. Ferguson, the four tracts that Otis wrote during 1764–65 reveal contradictions and intellectual confusion.
Otis was the first leader of the period to develop distinctive American theories of constitutionalism and representation, but he relied on traditional views of Parliamentary authority. He refused to follow the logical direction of his natural law theory by drawing back from radicalism, according to Ferguson, who feels that Otis appears inconsistent. Samuelson, on the other hand, argues that Otis should be seen as a practical political thinker rather than a theorist, that explains why his positions changed as he adjusted to altered political realities and exposed the British constitutional dilemmas of colonial parliamentary representation and the imperial relationship between Britain and the American colonies. Otis did not identify himself as a revolutionary. Otis at times counseled against the mob violence of the radicals and argued against Adams' proposal for a convention of all the colonies resembling that of the British Glorious Revolution of 1688. Yet, on other occasions, Otis exceeded Adams in exhorting people to action.
He called his compatriots to arms at a town meeting on September 12, 1768, according to some accounts. Otis was in the rural Popular Party, but he made alliances with Boston merchants and he grew in popularity after the controversy over the writs of assistance, he was elected by an overwhelming margin to the provincial assembly a month later. He subsequently wrote several important patriotic pamphlets, served in the assembly, was a leader of the Stamp Act Congress, he was friends with Thomas Paine, the author of Common Sense. He was banished from Cambridge, Massachusetts to Watertown in 1743, he suffered from erratic behavior as the 1760s progressed, he received a gash on the head from British tax collector John Robinson's cudgel at the British Coffee House in 1769. Some attribute Otis's mental illness to this event alone, but John Adams, Thomas Hutchinson, many others mention his mental illness well
Secretary of State for the Colonies
The Secretary of State for the Colonies or Colonial Secretary was the British Cabinet minister in charge of managing the United Kingdom's various colonial dependencies. The position was first created in 1768 to deal with the troublesome North American colonies, following passage of the Townsend Acts. Colonial responsibilities were held jointly by the Lords of Trade and Plantations and the Secretary of State for the Southern Department, responsible for Southern England, Ireland, the American colonies, relations with the Catholic and Muslim states of Europe. Joint responsibility continued under the Secretary of State for the Colonies, but led to a diminution of the board's status, it became an adjunct to the new Secretary's Department. Following the loss of the American colonies, both the board and the short-lived secretaryship were dismissed by the king on 2 May 1782. Following this, colonial duties given to the Home Secretary Lord Sydney. Following the Treaty of Paris 1783, a new board, named the Committee of Council on Trade and Plantations was established under William Pitt the Younger, by an Order in Council in 1784.
In 1794, a new office was created for Henry Dundas — the Secretary of State for War, which now took responsibility for the Colonies, was renamed the Secretary of State for War and the Colonies in 1801. In 1854, military reforms led to the Colonial and Military responsibilities of this secretary of state being split into two separate offices, with Sir George Grey becoming the first Secretary of State for the Colonies under the new arrangement. In the latter part of the nineteenth century, Britain gained control over a number of territories with the status of "protectorate"; the ministerial responsibility for these territories was held by the Foreign Secretary. However, by the early years of the twentieth century the responsibility for each of these territories had been transferred to the Colonial Secretary as well; the League of Nations mandated territories acquired as a result of the Treaty of Versailles became a further responsibility of the Colonial Office in the aftermath of the First World War.
In 1925, part of the Colonial Office was separated out as the Dominions Office, with its own Secretary of State. The new office was responsible for dealing with the Dominions together with a small number of other territories. In the twenty years following the end of the Second World War, much of the British Empire was dismantled as its various territories gained independence. In consequence, the Colonial Office was merged in 1966 with the Commonwealth Relations Office to form the Commonwealth Office, while ministerial responsibility was transferred to the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs. In 1968, the Commonwealth Office was subsumed into the Foreign Office, renamed the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; the Colonial Secretary never had responsibility for the provinces and princely states of India, which had its own Secretary of State. From 1768 until 1966 the Secretary of State was supported by an Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, latterly by a Minister of State. Sometimes referred to as Secretary of State for the American Colonies.
Office abolished in 1782 after the loss of the American Colonies. Responsibility for the Colonies thereafter held by: Home Secretary 1782–1801 Secretary of State for War and the Colonies 1801–1854 Secretary of State for the Colonies from 1854 Responsibility for the colonies held by: Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs 1966–1968 Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs 1968–presentFollowing the British Nationality Act 1981 the term "colony" ceased to be used. Britain retains certain overseas territories. Notes A few title holders were born in colonies under their portfolio and some beyond: Andrew Bonar Law - born in pre-Canada colony of New Brunswick and moved to the United Kingdom Victor Bruce, 9th Earl of Elgin - born in Canada during his father's, James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin, term as Governor General of Canada and a British appointee Alfred Milner, 1st Viscount Milner - born in Grand Duchy of Hesse to Charles Milner Leo Amery - born in British India to an English father serving in India
The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of British Armed Forces. As of 2018, the British Army comprises just over 81,500 trained regular personnel and just over 27,000 trained reserve personnel; the modern British Army traces back to 1707, with an antecedent in the English Army, created during the Restoration in 1660. The term British Army was adopted in 1707 after the Acts of Union between Scotland. Although all members of the British Army are expected to swear allegiance to Elizabeth II as their commander-in-chief, the Bill of Rights of 1689 requires parliamentary consent for the Crown to maintain a peacetime standing army. Therefore, Parliament approves the army by passing an Armed Forces Act at least once every five years; the army is commanded by the Chief of the General Staff. The British Army has seen action in major wars between the world's great powers, including the Seven Years' War, the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimean War and the First and Second World Wars.
Britain's victories in these decisive wars allowed it to influence world events and establish itself as one of the world's leading military and economic powers. Since the end of the Cold War, the British Army has been deployed to a number of conflict zones as part of an expeditionary force, a coalition force or part of a United Nations peacekeeping operation; until the English Civil War, England never had a standing army with professional officers and careerist corporals and sergeants. It relied on militia organized by local officials, or private forces mobilized by the nobility, or on hired mercenaries from Europe. From the Middle Ages until the English Civil War, when a foreign expeditionary force was needed, such as the one that Henry V of England took to France and that fought at the Battle of Agincourt, the army, a professional one, was raised for the duration of the expedition. During the English Civil War, the members of the Long Parliament realised that the use of county militia organised into regional associations commanded by local members of parliament, while more than able to hold their own in the regions which Parliamentarians controlled, were unlikely to win the war.
So Parliament initiated two actions. The Self-denying Ordinance, with the notable exception of Oliver Cromwell, forbade members of parliament from serving as officers in the Parliamentary armies; this created a distinction between the civilians in Parliament, who tended to be Presbyterian and conciliatory to the Royalists in nature, a corps of professional officers, who tended to Independent politics, to whom they reported. The second action was legislation for the creation of a Parliamentary-funded army, commanded by Lord General Thomas Fairfax, which became known as the New Model Army. While this proved to be a war winning formula, the New Model Army, being organized and politically active, went on to dominate the politics of the Interregnum and by 1660 was disliked; the New Model Army was paid off and disbanded at the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660. For many decades the excesses of the New Model Army under the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell was a horror story and the Whig element recoiled from allowing a standing army.
The militia acts of 1661 and 1662 prevented local authorities from calling up militia and oppressing their own local opponents. Calling up the militia was possible only if the king and local elites agreed to do so. Charles II and his Cavalier supporters favoured a new army under royal control; the first English Army regiments, including elements of the disbanded New Model Army, were formed between November 1660 and January 1661 and became a standing military force for Britain. The Royal Scots and Irish Armies were financed by the parliaments of Ireland. Parliamentary control was established by the Bill of Rights 1689 and Claim of Right Act 1689, although the monarch continued to influence aspects of army administration until at least the end of the nineteenth century. After the Restoration Charles II pulled together four regiments of infantry and cavalry, calling them his guards, at a cost of £122,000 from his general budget; this became the foundation of the permanent English Army. By 1685 it had grown to 7,500 soldiers in marching regiments, 1,400 men permanently stationed in garrisons.
A rebellion in 1685 allowed James II to raise the forces to 20,000 men. There were 37,000 in 1678. After William and Mary's accession to the throne England involved itself in the War of the Grand Alliance to prevent a French invasion restoring James II. In 1689, William III expanded the army to 74,000, to 94,000 in 1694. Parliament was nervous, reduced the cadre to 7000 in 1697. Scotland and Ireland had theoretically separate military establishments, but they were unofficially merged with the English force. By the time of the 1707 Acts of Union, many regiments of the English and Scottish armies were combined under one operational command and stationed in the Netherlands for the War of the Spanish Succession. Although all the regiments were now part of the new British military establishment, they remained under the old operational-command structure and retained much of the institutional ethos and traditions of the standing armies created shortly after the restoration of the monarchy 47 years earlier.
The order of seniority of the most-senior British Army line regiments is based on that of the English army
Boston Tea Party
The Boston Tea Party was a political and mercantile protest by the Sons of Liberty in Boston, Massachusetts, on December 16, 1773. The target was the Tea Act of May 10, 1773, which allowed the British East India company to sell tea from China in American colonies without paying taxes apart from those imposed by the Townshend Acts. American Patriots opposed the taxes in the Townshend Act as a violation of their rights. Demonstrators, some disguised as Native Americans, destroyed an entire shipment of tea sent by the East India Company, they threw the chests of tea into the Boston Harbor. The British government responded harshly and the episode escalated into the American Revolution; the Tea Party became an iconic event of American history, since other political protests such as the Tea Party movement have referred to themselves as historical successors to the Boston protest of 1773. The Tea Party was the culmination of a resistance movement throughout British America against the Tea Act, passed by the British Parliament in 1773.
Colonists objected to the Tea Act because they believed that it violated their rights as Englishmen to "no taxation without representation", that is, to be taxed only by their own elected representatives and not by a British parliament in which they were not represented. In addition, the well-connected East India Company had been granted competitive advantages over colonial tea importers, who resented the move and feared additional infringement on their business. Protesters had prevented the unloading of tea in three other colonies, but in Boston, embattled Royal Governor Thomas Hutchinson refused to allow the tea to be returned to Britain; the Boston Tea Party was a significant event in the growth of the American Revolution. Parliament responded in 1774 with the Intolerable Acts, or Coercive Acts, among other provisions, ended local self-government in Massachusetts and closed Boston's commerce. Colonists up and down the Thirteen Colonies in turn responded to the Intolerable Acts with additional acts of protest, by convening the First Continental Congress, which petitioned the British monarch for repeal of the acts and coordinated colonial resistance to them.
The crisis escalated, the American Revolutionary War began near Boston in 1775. The Boston Tea Party arose from two issues confronting the British Empire in 1765: the financial problems of the British East India Company; the North Ministry's attempt to resolve these issues produced a showdown that would result in revolution. As Europeans developed a taste for tea in the 17th century, rival companies were formed to import the product from China. In England, Parliament gave the East India Company a monopoly on the importation of tea in 1698; when tea became popular in the British colonies, Parliament sought to eliminate foreign competition by passing an act in 1721 that required colonists to import their tea only from Great Britain. The East India Company did not export tea to the colonies. British firms bought this tea and exported it to the colonies, where they resold it to merchants in Boston, New York and Charleston; until 1767, the East India Company paid an ad valorem tax of about 25% on tea that it imported into Great Britain.
Parliament laid additional taxes on tea sold for consumption in Britain. These high taxes, combined with the fact that tea imported into the Dutch Republic was not taxed by the Dutch government, meant that Britons and British Americans could buy smuggled Dutch tea at much cheaper prices; the biggest market for illicit tea was England—by the 1760s the East India Company was losing £400,000 per year to smugglers in Great Britain—but Dutch tea was smuggled into British America in significant quantities. In 1767, to help the East India Company compete with smuggled Dutch tea, Parliament passed the Indemnity Act, which lowered the tax on tea consumed in Great Britain, gave the East India Company a refund of the 25% duty on tea, re-exported to the colonies. To help offset this loss of government revenue, Parliament passed the Townshend Revenue Act of 1767, which levied new taxes, including one on tea, in the colonies. Instead of solving the smuggling problem, the Townshend duties renewed a controversy about Parliament's right to tax the colonies.
Controversy between Great Britain and the colonies arose in the 1760s when Parliament sought, for the first time, to impose a direct tax on the colonies for the purpose of raising revenue. Some colonists, known in the colonies as Whigs, objected to the new tax program, arguing that it was a violation of the British Constitution. Britons and British Americans agreed that, according to the constitution, British subjects could not be taxed without the consent of their elected representatives. In Great Britain, this meant. Colonists, did not elect members of Parliament, so American Whigs argued that the colonies could not be taxed by that body. According to Whigs, colonists could only be taxed by their own colonial assemblies. Colonial protests resulted in the repeal of the Stamp Act in 1766, but in the 1766 Declaratory Act, Parliament continued to insist that it had the right to legislate for the colonies "in all cases whatsoever"; when new taxes were levied in the Townshend Revenue Act of 1767, Whig colonists again responded with protests and boycotts.
Merchants organized a non-importation agreement, many colonists pledged to abstain from drinking British tea, with activists in New England promoting alternatives, su
The Boston Caucus was an informal political organization that had considerable influence in Boston in the years before and after the American Revolution. This was the first use of the word caucus to mean a meeting of members of a movement or political party to agree on a common position; the Boston Caucus was established in around 1719 by the popular physician and merchant Elisha Cooke, Jr. It grew as a powerful political force in the area but its activities are what associate it most with Samuel Adams and the run up to American Independence. Adams became an influential leader of the caucus in the 1750s and used the club in the 1760s and 1770s to help gain him political leeway; the group developed a nefarious, rebellious reputation, meeting in taverns, plotting. The Boston Caucus and Samuel Adams were reputed to have had significant influence in 1773 with the events associated with the Boston Tea Party. No written records survive of the early years of the caucus before 1740, but there is strong evidence to suggest that it was established around 1719 by the popular physician and merchant Elisha Cooke, Jr. Cooke was one of the richest men in the province, with an estate valued at his death in 1737 at £63,000.
He was a heavy drinker, the owner of the Goat Tavern on King Street. Another early member of the Caucus was Deacon Adams, father of Samuel Adams, a wealthy businessman who became an eminent figure in New England politics; the goals of the caucus were to protect the interests of the lower and middle classes in Boston, to champion popular programs. Members of the Caucus included the leadership of the "popular party" known as the "whigs" or "patriots", the caucus had growing influence in Boston as it defined issues, promoted political views and challenged the authority of the crown. Although providing representation for the common people, the Caucus in some ways subverted the democratic process by setting the agenda for the Boston Town Meetings in advance, through concerted action predetermining the results. According to Peter Oliver, the last chief justice of Massachusetts before the revolution, the caucus spent huge amounts of money on liquor to win elections in the 1720s. Cooke seems to have had much influence in the marked relaxation in liquor licensing in the 1720s, popular with large numbers of voters.
The historian G. B. Warden said that Elisha Cooke Jr. "contributed more than anyone else to the public life of colonial Boston." The Rev. William Gordon, in his History of the Independence of the United States of America, said: More than fifty years ago Mr. Samuel Adams' father and twenty others, one or two from the north end of the town where all the ship business is carried on, used to meet, make a caucus and lay their plan for introducing certain persons into places of trust and power; when they had settled it they separated, each used their particular influence within his own circle. He and his friends would furnish themselves with ballots, including the names of the parties fixed upon, which they distributed on the days of election. By acting in concert, together with a careful and extensive distribution of ballots, they carried their elections to their own mind. In like manner it was. John Adams, at the time a country lawyer from Braintree, described the way in which the caucus worked in 1763.
He said that at the meetings, "...selectmen, collectors, fire-wards and representatives are chosen before they are chosen in the town... There they smoke tobacco till you cannot see from one end of the garret to the other". Adams said that after coming to a decision, "They send committees to wait on the merchants' club." This implies that the leading businessmen of the city still made the decisions, while listening to the views of the Caucus and taking into consideration the popular support that the Caucus could muster. The technique of making decisions like this in smoke-filled rooms before the public democratic process started was to have a long history in U. S. politics. The Caucus set the model for modern political machine politics in which the inner circle would select the candidates and ensure election through buying drinks for the working class voters. Samuel Adams, whose father had been one of the founders of the caucus, became an influential leader of the caucus in the 1750s. Adams became part of the Sons of Liberty, a mass movement of working class men that could be used in street protests to support the goals of the Boston leaders.
Opposed to British rule. The caucus remained true to its principles of supporting the rights of the common man to political and economic freedom. However, in 1763 members of the court party gave a less flattering view of what they called "the Junto", saying that the members of the caucus were involved only to gain personal advantage, that they opposed the government for this reason; some said. This slur originated with loyalists who hated Adams and could not believe that common people - "the mob" - could act in their own interests without guidance from Adams. From 1751 the caucus collaborated with a "Merchant's Club", a "select group of shipowners and wholesalers", to "protest the oppressive tactics of royal customs officials". Three more Caucus Clubs were formed in the 1760s, for the South End, North End and Middle, in addition to the original club. Sam Adams was a member of all of them; these clubs complemented the Loyal Nine and Sons of Liberty patriot organizations, but various other clubs had political goals, notably the Freemasons' lodge of St. Andrews.
The North End caucus seems to have been launched in 1767, although the first records are from 1772. This
Massachusetts General Court
The Massachusetts General Court is the state legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The name "General Court" is a hold-over from the earliest days of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, when the colonial assembly, in addition to making laws, sat as a judicial court of appeals. Before the adoption of the state constitution in 1780, it was called the Great and General Court, but the official title was shortened by John Adams, author of the state constitution, it is a bicameral body. The upper house is the Massachusetts Senate, composed of 40 members; the lower body, the Massachusetts House of Representatives, has 160 members. It meets in the Massachusetts State House on Beacon Hill in Boston; the current President of the Senate is Karen Spilka, the Speaker of the House is Robert DeLeo. Since 1959, Democrats have controlled both houses of the Massachusetts General Court by large majorities; the Democrats enjoyed veto-proof super-majorities in both chambers for part of the 1990s and presently hold supermajorities in both chambers.
State Senators and Representatives both serve two-year terms. There are no term limits; the legislature is a full-time legislature, although not to the extent of neighboring New York or some other states. As of 2018, the General Court was composed of 25 percent female representation; each Representative represents about 41,000 residents. The speaker of the House has been quite powerful, exerting significant influence over all aspects of state government. Representative districts are named for the primary county in which they are located, tend to stay within one county, although some districts contain portions of adjacent counties; the current composition of the House is 32 Republicans and 1 Independent. There are 40 senatorial districts in Massachusetts, named for the counties in which they are located; each state Senate district contains about 164,000 constituents. The current composition of the Senate is 6 Republicans; the General Court is responsible for enacting laws in the state. The two legislative branches work concurrently on pending laws brought before them.
Lawmaking begins when legislators, or their delegates, file petitions accompanied by bills, resolves or other types of legislation electronically, using the Legislative Automated Workflow System. The electronically submitted legislation is received in the House or Senate Clerk's office where the petitions and resolves are recorded in an electronic docket book; the clerks assign them to appropriate joint committees. There are 26 of these committees, each responsible for studying the bills which pertain to a specific area; each committee is composed of six senators and eleven representatives. The standing committees schedule public hearings for the individual bills, which afford citizens and lobbyists the opportunity to express their views. Committee members meet at a time in executive session to review the public testimony and discuss the merits of each bill before making their recommendations to the full membership of the House or Senate. Note that the public may still observe "executive" sessions, but may not participate in these meetings.
The committee issues its report, recommending that a bill "ought to pass" or "ought not to pass" and the report is submitted to the Clerk's office. The first reading of a favorably reported bill is automatic and occurs when the committee's report appears in the Journal of the House or Senate. Matters not requiring reference to another Joint, House or Senate committee are, following the first reading, referred without debate to the Committee on Senate Rules if reported in the Senate, except certain special laws are placed directly on the Senate Calendar, or, without debate to the House Steering and Scheduling committee if reported into the House. Reports from Senate Rules or House Steering and Scheduling are placed on the Calendar of the Chamber receiving the report for a second reading. If a bill reported favorably by a joint committee affects health care it is referred by the House or Senate Clerk to the joint committee on Health Care Financing; the Health Care Financing Committee is required to provide an estimated cost of the bill, when making their report.
If the estimated cost is less than $100,000, the bill bypasses having to be referred to Ways and Means. If a bill is not related to health care, but affects the finances of the Commonwealth, or, if it is reported by the Health Care Financing Committee with an estimated cost greater than $100,000, it is referred to the Senate or House Committee on Ways and Means after the first reading. Adverse reports are referred to the Committee on Steering and Policy in the Senate or placed without debate in the Orders of the Day for the next session of the House. Acceptance by either branch of an adverse report is considered the final rejection and the matter of the matter. However, an adverse report can be overturned. A member may move to substitute the bill for the report, and, if the motion to substitute carries, the matter is then