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The Massachusetts Bay banished dissenters such as Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams due to religious and political disagreements.In 1636, Williams founded the colony of Rhode Island and Hutchinson joined him there several years later. Among those who objected to this later in the century were the English Quaker preachers Alice and Thomas Curwen, who were publicly flogged and imprisoned in Boston in 1676.Alternatively, Massachusett has been represented as Moswetuset—from the name of the Moswetuset Hummock (meaning "hill shaped like an arrowhead") in Quincy, where Plymouth Colony commander Myles Standish, hired English military officer, and Squanto, part of the now disappeared Patuxet band of the Wampanoag peoples, met Chief Chickatawbut in 1621.

David Mc Cullough points out that an equally important feature was its placing for the first time the courts as a co-equal branch separate from the executive.

In 1641, Massachusetts expanded inland significantly, acquiring the Connecticut River Valley settlement of Springfield, which had recently disputed with, and defected from its original administrators, the Connecticut Colony.

In 1691, the colonies of Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth were united (along with present-day Maine, which had previously been divided between Massachusetts and New York) into the Province of Massachusetts Bay.

On the coast, Salem became a center for privateering.

Although the documentation is incomplete, about 1700 letters of marque, issued on a per-voyage basis, were granted during the American Revolution.

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