“The Great Hope for the Future”: New Bedford in the Postbellum Era

Earl F. Mulderink III

in New Bedford's Civil War

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780823243341
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823243389 | DOI:

Series: The North's Civil War (FUP)

“The Great Hope for the Future”: New Bedford in the Postbellum Era

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This chapter examines the broader context of economic development in New Bedford after the Civil War. By the end of the nineteenth century, New Bedford would become more like Lowell than Nantucket, and textile and other manufacturing became the city's economic foundation. Industrialization rapidly transformed New Bedford and posed new challenges for city leaders and residents. The chapter discusses the city's embrace of manufacturing in the postwar era, a transition prompted by the whaling industry's continuing decline and the apparent promise and profitability of the textile industry. Although some feared changes in the city's economy, influential local visionaries contended that economic challenges would be overcome by the active development of textile manufacturing. In turn, the city opened up to new sources of immigration from French Canada, the Azores, and later, southern and eastern Europe. With the memory of the Civil War receding into the past, residents surveyed a landscape of textile factories, smokestacks, and tenement housing within a diverse and industrialized city.

Keywords: economic development; manufacturing; New Bedford; textile industry; industrialization; whaling industry; immigration; smokestacks; tenement housing; French Canada

Chapter.  6633 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Military History

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