Whaling crew pose aboard ship.
The crew aboard "Wanderer." Photo courtesy: NPS
New Bedford's success in whaling not only shaped its economics, but its demographics as well. In its heyday, the city was more diverse than Boston and New York. Learn more about the people that lived in and journeyed to New Bedford, and how they shaped the city.
Black and white photo of middle-aged Frederick Douglass.
Frederick Douglass.
Frederick Douglass
Escaped slave, abolitionist, orator

Twenty years after escaping slavery, Frederick Bailey adopted the name Douglass and arrived in New Bedford. There, he found his voice to speak out against slavery. More information.
Colorized photo of an older Herman Melville.
Herman Melville.
Herman Melville

Before crafting the famed Moby Dick, Melville left from New Bedford on a whaling ship. The 18-month voyage inspired the 19th-century American novel. More information.
Sketch of a young Hetty Green.
Hetty Green. Image courtesy: New Bedford Public Library
Hetty Green
Heiress & investor

Recognized as the richest woman in the world at the turn of the 20th century, Henrietta "Hetty" Howland Robinson Green was a financial genius in the areas of real estate, railroads, and money lending. More information.
James, Elizabeth, Sarah Arnold family gathered in a living room.
Arnold family. Image courtesy: New Bedford Port Society
James & Sarah Arnold
Quaker philanthropists

Profiting from the whaling industry, James and Sarah Arnold each invested in the community. James opened his gardens to the public, while Sarah spent time with the city's poor. More information.
Photo of statue memorializing Lewis Temple.
Lewis Temple, inventor of the Temple toggle iron. Photo courtesy: NPS
Lewis Temple
Blacksmith & inventor

After settling in New Bedford, African American blacksmith Lewis Temple revolutionized the whaling industry with a new harpoon design. More information.
The white house on Seventh Street belonged to advocates Nathan and Polly Johnson.
The Johnson's home on Seventh Street. Photo courtesy: NPS
Nathan & Mary Johnson
Abolitionists & entrepreneurs

Nathan and Mary "Polly" Johnson housed several escaped slaves in their Seventh Street home, including famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass. More information.
A sihouette of Paul Cuffee.
Paul Cuffe. Image courtesy: Library of Congress
Paul Cuffe
Whaling captain & ship builder

Born on Cuttyhunk Island to a freed African man and Native American woman, Paul Cuffe grew to become a successful whaling captain and respected member of his community. More information.
Sepia portrait of William Carney with his Medal of Honor.
William Carney. Photo by: James E. Reed
William Carney
Escaped slave & Union Army sergeant

Despite enduring intense enemy fire during the Battle of Fort Wagner, William Carney returned the Union Army flag safely. He was the first African American to earn the Medal of Honor for his bravery. More information.
Painting of Quaker William Rotch, Jr.
William Rotch, Jr. Image courtesy: Rotch-Jones-Duff House and Garden Museum
William Rotch, Jr.
Whaling merchant & abolitionist

As an influential and wealthy Quaker, William Rotch, Jr. supported the whaling industry, anti-slavery efforts, and religious education. More information.

Last updated: August 28, 2018

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