Great issues confronted 17th century settlers to the New World including the Husbanding of Natural Resources, Immigration, Rights and Citizenship, and Opportunity for Economic Growth and Stability, that reverberate in the Port of New Bedford and its surrounding region to this day.
The purpose of this microsite is to to open up discussion and to provide extended content related to the Conduct Us to Our Hope exhibition. As many historical issues remain unresolved, or, are still evolving in a state of flux, public commentary is encouraged. We are focusing on issues involving the husbanding of our natural resources once abundant on land and sea as well as the many other issues, including immigration, and issues involving race and religion, along with the place of religion under a secular government. For more information contact Senior Maritime Historian Michael P. Dyer, mdyer(at)whalingmuseum.org, 508-717-6837.
“these may haply become good harbors, and conduct us to the hopes men so greedily do thirst after.”
– Gabriele Archer, 1602
“Conduct Us to Our Hope”: The Early Settlement of the Old Dartmouth Region, 1602-1830, is an exhibition examining multiple facets of the convoluted story of the colonial settlements of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Particular emphasis is placed upon the movements of the Society of Friends in America, the colonial Quakers. This includes the interpretation of art and artifacts representative of the complex relations between the Plymouth Colony, the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the Wampanoag and Narragansett Native Tribes, King Philip’s War and the ultimate growth of Quaker settlements in the late 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries.
An old story with fresh lesson
In 1602 English seafarers explored coastal Massachusetts for timber, fish and furs. By the 1620s, strong differences in religious beliefs in England led groups like the Pilgrims and later the Puritans to leave there and colonize Massachusetts. Between 1650 and 1675, the Puritans had strongly established themselves but persecuted other colonists including Quakers and Baptists. Additionally, land incursions caused major wars with local Native American tribes. Quaker and Baptist settlements along Buzzards Bay and the Acushnet River, the “Old Dartmouth Region,” grew into seafaring cultures because their locations, south of Cape Cod, were a safe distance from Puritan settlements but within easy reach of similar Quaker settlements on Nantucket, the whaling grounds of the Atlantic, and Newport, Rhode Island, the main regional commercial seaport. Thus, religion, geography and maritime commerce combined to powerfully influence Southeastern Massachusetts’ colonial growth and the ultimate success of the port of New Bedford. As you encounter the art and objects in this exhibition, draw parallels between colonial attitudes, actions, ideas, and issues confronting society today. For instance, do we experience extreme religious viewpoints in the U.S.A. today? Do we solve our differences violently or non-violently? Can we still make a living from the sea?