Massachusetts has been significant throughout American history. Plymouth was the second permanent English settlement in North America. Many of Massachusetts's towns were founded by colonists from England in the 1620s and 1630s. During the eighteenth century, Boston became known as the "Cradle of Liberty" for the agitation there that led to the American Revolution and the independence of the United States from Great Britain. It was also a center of the temperance movement and abolitionist activity before the American Civil War. The state has contributed many prominent politicians to national service, including the Adams family and the Kennedy family.
Originally dependent on fishing, agriculture, and trade with Europe, Massachusetts was transformed into a manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution. During the twentieth century, the state's economy shifted from manufacturing to services. Today, the state is a leader in higher education, health care, high technology, and financial services.