- The Constitution is the fundamental governing document of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It was drafted by John Adams, Samuel Adams, and James Bowdoin during the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention between September 1 and October 30, 1779. Following approval by town meetings, the Constitution was ratified on June 15, 1780, became effective on October 25, 1780. It served as a model for the United States Constitution, and remains the oldest functioning written constitution in continuous effect in the world.
Find biographical fast facts about John Adams, the second president of the United States. Or delve into more detailed information about his thoughts on government or the role he played in the Boston Massacre case and the drafting of the Massachusetts Constitution. Also learn about the extraordinary influence his wife Abigail had on him and the politics of the time.
- The Massachusetts General Laws ("MGL"), or General Laws of Massachusetts, are arranged by subject into chapters and sections.
- Approximately once every ten years, Massachusetts is constitutionally mandated to adjust its state House, Senate, Governor's Council and federal Congressional district boundaries to account for population shifts and provide equal representation to its citizens. Here you'll find historical information such as maps, census data, documents, and historical perspectives, as well as the most recently proposed maps (November 2011) that divide the Commonwealth into 9 federal Congressional districts and 40 state Senatorial, 8 Councillor and 160 Representative districts.
Learn what constitutional, statutory, case, and administrative laws are and how they are created.
- The Archives Division of the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Office is the repository for Massachusetts records generated by state government. The holdings date from the beginning of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1628 and document the settlement of lands in Maine and Massachusetts, the arrival of immigrants, and the development of state government. These records include land grants, divorces and contested estates, legislative papers, and tax valuation lists. Public records are not in the holdings of the Archives strictly because of inherent genealogical value, but since they often include references to early Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire families, these documents are a major resource for people engaged in the study of family history.
Ben's Guide to U.S. Government for kids, named for Massachusetts’ native son, Benjamin Franklin, is a 6 part series on our United States Government.
- The Commonwealth Museum uses state-of-the-art technology to trace the development of rights in Massachusetts from the 1600s until today. Climate-controlled cases display the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights, “John Adams” Massachusetts Constitution of 1780, and unique royal charters. The copper plate used by Paul Revere to engrave his image of the Boston Massacre is a featured piece. Take a virtual tour today and see how interactive exhibits, personal stories, and a high tech theater bring history alive.
- Closed on weekends and holidays, the Massachusetts State House offers free tours from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Visit the House and Senate Chambers while learning fun facts about Massachusetts.