Freetown is one of the oldest communities in the United States, having been settled by the Pilgrims and their descendants in the latter half of the 17th century. The town once included the city of Fall River (1659–1803), and a portion of Acushnet (1659–1815). The town celebrated its tercentenary in 1983.
Freetown is currently divided into two villages, which historically developed almost entirely independent from one another: Assonet and East Freetown. Freetown lies on an old 18th century road and along old Indian trails from Freetown to Boston. Freetown is home to the Freetown-Fall River State Forest, and Profile Rock and is located approximately from Boston.
Freetown was first settled by the English on April 2, 1659 on the banks of the Assonet River, when the areas of Assonet and Fall River were purchased for 20 coats, two rugs, two iron pots, two kettles, one little kettle, eight pairs of shoes, six pairs of stockings, one dozen hoes, one dozen hatchets, and two yards of broadcloth from the Wampanoag Indians in an exchange known as Ye Freemen's Purchase. Its population slowly grew, and it existed as a Proprietary settlement until it was officially incorporated in July 1683. It remained a part of Plymouth Colony until that colony merged with the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1685. The town was the fifth municipal corporation established in Bristol County.
Throughout the 18th century, the town continued to grow and prosper. In 1747, through the Pocasset Purchase, the village of East Freetown (at the time called "New Freetown") was acquired from Tiverton, Rhode Island (which was being transferred from Massachusetts to Rhode Island). The townspeople were also some of America's earliest patriots, fighting in King Philip's War and other local skirmishes. On May 28, 1775, during the Revolutionary War, the Battle of Freetown was fought in a part of the town that is now part of the city of Fall River.
In 1803, Fall River separated from the town, and incorporated as Troy. In 1815, a portion of the town was annexed by Fairhaven, which at the time controlled Acushnet, Massachusetts. That part of East Freetown remains part of Acushnet to this day.
Throughout the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, Freetown served as a very industrious area. Blast furnaces, fishing, textiles, and manufacturing all came to and left Freetown, eventually allowing the area to regain its former rural charm. One of the more well-known industries was N. R. Davis & Sons, a gun manufactory that provided many weapons for the Civil War.