It all started in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts where the speeding ticket was invented. You see, Massachusetts was the first place to distribute state-issued license plates

Sidebar: If you’re super up on your license plate history, then you’re correct in thinking "Wait, I thought New York was the first state to require license plates."  It was according to, however, owners had to make their own plates for their vehicles simply by using their initials starting in 1901.

It was in 1903 that Massachusetts became the very first to make it a state thing, with plates made and distributed by the government.

According to, the Frederick Tudor family was the first to have a government-issued plate with a "1" and it's still being used by the Tudor family today. Frederick worked for the highway division, by the way, so it makes sense he had the first plate when this became law.

Henry Lee Higgison LIbrary of Congress
Henry Lee Higginson Library of Congress

Now for the fun part of this history.

According to The Vintage News, Frederick was the nephew of Henry Lee Higginson, the founder of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, who persuaded the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to start an automobile department with state-issued plates.

You see, Henry was annoyed with cars speeding past his summer estate so having state-issued plates he could then identify and report who was speeding by his summer estate.

According to the website, any car that exceeded the 15 mph speed limit was fined. So yes, you can thank Massachusetts and a guy named Henry for our speeding tickets that eventually became a national thing.

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