Boston is incorporated as a city

Religious refugees from Britain trickled into the New England states as early as the 1600s. Modern-day Massachusetts was a popular choice for new arrivals, and had grown to two main settlements – Plymouth and Salem. There was no Boston yet. The area that would become Boston was called Shawmut by the Native Americans and Trimountaine, for the three small peaks on its edges. The first major human entry into the area came from a group of 1,000 Puritans who initially came to Salem. Living in Salem’s squalid, overcrowded settlements, many fell ill for lack of fresh water, leading them to a search of a better space. They found it, with a freshwater spring, at Trimountaine.

On this day, February 23, in 1822, the city of Boston, on site of the former Trimountaine, was incorporated. It was named after St. Botolph (or just plain “Botulph“), for a 7th-century monk who supposedly had a monastery in that location. The new settlement was called St. Botolph’s Town, or Boston for short.

Boston was always meant to be a refuge for Christians fleeing from religious persecution. In 1628, two years before Boston was founded, John Winthorp, leading a ship of Massachussetts Bay colonists, called on them to establish a “model of Christian charity,” and quoting to the Gospel of Matthew, “a city upon a hill.”