Dedham is a town in and the county seat of Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 24,729 at the 2010 census.
Settled in 1635 by people from Roxbury and Watertown, Dedham was incorporated in 1636. It became the county seat of Norfolk County when the county formed on March 26, 1793. When the Town was originally incorporated, the residents wanted to name it Contentment. The Massachusetts General Court overruled them and named the town after Dedham, Essex in England, where some of the original inhabitants were born.At the first public meeting on August 15, 1636, eighteen men signed the town covenant.The first man-made canal in North America, Mother Brook, was created in Dedham in 1639. It linked the Charles River to the Neponset River. Although both are slow-moving rivers, they are at different elevations. The difference in elevation made the canal's current swift enough to power several local mills.In 1818, though citizens were still taxed for the support of ministers and other "public teachers of religion", Dedham set a precedent toward the separation of church and state. Residents selected a minister different than that chosen by the church selectmen; their right of selection was confirmed by the Supreme Judicial Court. The shift in power to the congregation led to the rise of the Congregational Churches.