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Timeline – 1602 to Present
Arrival of Pilgrims at Plymouth on MAYFLOWER.
Plymouth Colony purchases Dartmouth lands from Massasoit, sachem of the Wampanoag and his son, Wamsutta.
King Philip’s War
First Quaker meeting established in Dartmouth.
Capt. Christopher Hussey of Nantucket finds a pod of sperm whales; pelagic whaling era begins.
Spermaceti oil refining begins at candleworks in New England.
DARTMOUTH, the first large ship built at Bedford Village; her first voyage brings American whale oil to London.
DARTMOUTH’s return cargo of British tea is destroyed in the Boston Tea Party.
British troops burn Bedford Village destroying shipping and warehouses.
Capt. Paul Cuffe, African & Native American, petitions for right to vote as a landowner and taxpayer.
New Bedford and Westport establish as separate towns from Dartmouth.
REBECCA returns; first American whaleship with sperm oil from the Pacific.
New Bedford shipwright Col. George Claghorn is Naval Constructor of the USS. CONSTITUTION at Hartt’s Shipyard, Boston. top
Second war with Great Britain begins; lasts until 1815.
First American whalers reach Hawaii.
Nantucket whaler ESSEX attacked and sunk by a whale.
James Arnold & Joseph Rotch build grand homes on County Street; whaling wealth drives “mansion-mania” on the hill.
New Bedford surpasses Nantucket as the largest whaling port.
Seamen’s Bethel built by the New Bedford Port Society (founded in 1830).
Anti-Slavery Society organized with William Rotch, Jr. as President.
Frederick Douglass escapes slavery and settles in New Bedford.
New Bedford & Taunton Rail Road Corp. creates access to inland markets; first daily train service to Boston begins July 1.
Herman Melville sails on the whaleship ACUSHNET.
Jonathan Bourne purchases and converts the LAGODA into a whaling vessel.
CHARLES W. MORGAN built at Hillman Brothers Shipyard, New Bedford; the world’s last remaining wooden whaleship today, preserved at Mystic Seaport, Conn.
Manjiro Nakahama, first Japanese person to live in America; lives with Capt. William Whitfield family in Fairhaven and is educated in the local schools.
Frederick Douglass writes “A Narrative” of his life in slavery, which details his escape to New Bedford – his first home in freedom. The book is a national best seller.
Wamsutta Mills, New Bedford’s first textile mill incorporates.
New Bedford incorporates as a city.
Russell-Purrington Panorama, “Whaling Voyage Round the World” first exhibited.
African-American Lewis Temple invents a new toggle harpoon.
Gold is discovered in California.
SUPERIOR of Sag Harbor passes the Bering Strait and opens western Arctic fishery.
Abraham Lincoln visits New Bedford; speaks in support of Whig candidate Zachary Taylor; stays with the Grinnell Family on County Street.
Wamsutta Mill in full operation with 10,000 spindles.
Palmer’s Island Lighthouse established. William Sherman is its keeper.
Moby-Dick is published (first in London in October as The Whale; in November in New York, as Moby-Dick).
Commodore Perry opens diplomatic relations with Japan.
New Bedford lights streets by gas.
Marine painter Albert van Beest comes to New Bedford to instruct William Bradford.
Peak year of New Bedford whaling fleet; 329 vessels registered out of a total American fleet of 593 vessels. top
Painter Albert Bierstadt organizes large art exhibition of works by American and European artists.
Drake’s well strikes petroleum in Titusville, Penn.; heralds the plunge in whale oil prices.
Sperm oil is $1.40 a gallon; kerosene is 75¢ a gallon.
Norwegian, Svend Foyn introduces steam powered chaser boats & heavy caliber artillery to hunt whales.
New Bedford’s “Stone Fleet” attempts blockades of the Confederate harbors of Savannah and Charleston.
Confederate commerce raiders destroy 46 Yankee whalers.
Alaska Territory is purchased from Russia; America adds 586,412 sq. miles of new territory for $7.2 million.
Charles Dickens visits New Bedford; reads at Liberty Hall to throngs of admiring fans.
Transcontinental Railroad links coasts; assures San Francisco’s rise as a major whaling center.
Clark’s Point Lighthouse moved to atop “Fort Taber” at the southernmost tip of the city.
City’s public water supply system established.
Mount Washington Glass Works established in New Bedford.
Potomska Mill, New Bedford’s second textile mill, established.
Arctic Disaster – 32 vessels lost on the Alaskan coast.
Author and whaling captain Charles M. Scammon warns about whale population extinction.
His Majesty, David Kalakaua, King of the Hawaiian Islands visits New Bedford.
Revenue Cutter Service Marine School of Instruction established at Fish Island aboard the topsail schooner DOBBIN; precursor institution of the United States Coast Guard Academy.
The “Catalpa Expedition” rescues six Irish Fenian prisoners from a British penal colony at Fremantle, Australia. Master of the New Bedford whaleship CATALPA, Capt. Geo. S. Anthony becomes a national celebrity upon his return to America with the freed men.
San Francisco becomes the dominant whaling port in the U.S.
New Bedford Textile School established by an Act of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Its mission: to instruct mill operatives in the rapidly evolving technology of textile manufacture. The school is the precursor institution of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (UMD).
Joshua Slocum returns in the SPRAY to New Bedford, the first solo-circumnavigator.
Butler Flats Light Station established; designed by Francis Hopkinson Smith.
Old Dartmouth Historical Society established; operator of the New Bedford Whaling Museum. top
Invention of spring steel dooms baleen market.
Norway becomes the leading whaling nation in world.
New Bedford’s Hetty Green dies, a.k.a. “The Witch of Wall Street;” astute investor and America’s richest woman, leaves $100 million fortune.
WANDERER departs New Bedford on last voyage of square-rigged whaleship, is wrecked off Cuttyhunk.
Col. Edward H. R. "Ned" Green adopts and restores the CHARLES W. MORGAN at his Round Hill estate in South Dartmouth, in partnership with Whaling Enshrined, Inc.
Schooner JOHN R. MANTA makes last New Bedford whaling voyage.
The Great Textile Strike heralds rapid decline of the industry in New England.
New Bedford’s first freezing & storage plant opens with the filleting of flounder.
New Bedford and surrounding towns devastated by the Great New England Hurricane.
Charles W. Morgan, last wooden whale ship moved to Mystic, Conn.
John Huston’s “Moby Dick” starring Gregory Peck premiers in New Bedford.
Azorean Refugee Act extension renews immigration from Portuguese islands.
First Scallop Festival held on Pope’s Island, produced by the New Bedford Seafood Council and New Bedford Exchange Club. top
New Bedford Industrial Park established in the city’s far North End.
Waterfront Historic Area League (WHALE) established to preserve the architectural past.
Construction of the UMD Dartmouth campus begins; designed by Paul Rudolph.
New Bedford’s first Historic District designated.
30 city blocks are razed in massive federal “Urban Renewal” projects, including the construction of the I-195 corridor transecting the city and the Route 18 Downtown Connector.
Hurricane Barrier completed after 4-year construction at a cost of $18.4 million.
New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park established.
New Bedford Whaling Museum becomes the largest museum of its kind in the world with the acquisition of the collections (70,000+ items) of the Kendall Whaling Museum of Sharon, Mass.
New Bedford is the highest grossing commercial fishing port in America. top