New Bedford is a city in Bristol County, Massachusetts, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 95,072, making it the sixth-largest city in Massachusetts. New Bedford is nicknamed "The Whaling City" because it was one of the world's most important whaling ports in the nineteenth century, along with Nantucket, Massachusetts, and New London, Connecticut. New Bedford, Fall River and Taunton are the three largest cities in the South Coast region of Massachusetts. The city is known for its fishing fleet and accompanying seafood industry, as well as for its high concentration of Portuguese Americans.
Before the 17th century, the Wampanoag Native Americans, who had settlements throughout southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, including Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, were the only inhabitants of the lands along the Acushnet River. Their population is believed to have been about 12,000. While exploring New England, Bartholomew Gosnold landed on Cuttyhunk Island on May 15, 1602. From there, he explored Cape Cod and the neighboring areas, including the site of present-day New Bedford. However, rather than settle the area, he returned to England at the request of his crew.
A group of English Quakers from the Plymouth Colony—who as pacifists held ideological differences with the Puritans on the question of taxes to fund a military—separated and established the first European settlement on the South Coast in 1652.