New London is a city and a port of entry on the northeast coast of the United States. It is located at the mouth of the Thames River (pronounced as to rhyme with "James") in New London County, southeastern Connecticut. New London is located about from Boston, Massachusetts, from Providence, Rhode Island, from New Bedford, Massachusetts, and about from New York City.
For several decades beginning in the early 19th century, New London was the world's third busiest whaling port after New Bedford, Massachusetts, and Nantucket. The wealth that whaling brought into the city furnished the capital to fund much of the city's present architecture. New London subsequently became home to other shipping and manufacturing industries, but has gradually lost its commercial and industrial heart. The city is home to Connecticut College, Mitchell College, the United States Coast Guard Academy, and The Williams School. New London Harbor is home port to the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Chinook and the Coast Guard's tall ship Eagle.
The area was called Nameaug by the Pequot Indians. John Winthrop, Jr. founded the first English settlement here in 1646, making it about the 13th town settled in Connecticut. Inhabitants informally named it Pequot after the tribe. The Connecticut General Assembly wanted to name the town Faire Harbour, but the citizens protested, declaring that they would prefer it to be called Nameaug. The legislature relented, and on March 10, 1658 the town was officially named after London, England.
The harbor was considered to be the best deep water harbor on Long Island Sound, and consequently New London became a base of American naval operations during the Revolutionary War. Famous New Londoners during the American Revolution include Nathan Hale, William Coit, Richard Douglass, Thomas & Nathaniel Shaw, Gen.Samuel Parsons, Printer Timothy Green, Reverend Seabury. New London was raided & nearly burned to the ground on September 6, 1781 Battle of Groton Heights, by Norwich Native Benedict Arnold in the attempts to destroy the colonial privateer fleet and storage of goods and naval stores within the city. Often noted that this raid on New London and Groton was to divert General Washington and the French Army under Rochambeau from their march on Yorktown, Virginia. The main defensive fort for New London, Fort Griswold, located across the Thames River in Groton, was well known by Arnold who sold its secrets to the British fleet so they could avoid its artillery fire. Ft. Griswold was attacked and the British suffered great casualties before eventually storming the fort and slaughtering many of the militia who defended the fort. All told more than 52 British soldiers and 83 militia were killed and more than 142 British and 39 militia were wounded, many mortally. New London suffered more than 6 militia killed and 24 wounded while Arnold and the British and Hessian raiding party suffered an equal amount.
Connecticut's independent legislature, in its January session of 1784, made New London one of the first two cities (along with New Haven) brought from de facto to formalized incorporations.
For several decades beginning in the early 19th century, New London was the second busiest whaling port after New Bedford, Massachusetts in the world. The wealth that whaling brought into the city furnished the capital to fund much of the city's present architecture.
The New Haven and New London Railroad connected New London by rail to New Haven and points beyond by the 1850s. The Springfield and New London Railroad connected New London to Springfield, Massachusetts by the 1870s.
The family of Nobel and Pulitzer-Prize playwright Eugene O'Neill, and most of his own first 26 years, were intimately connected to New London. He lived for years there, and as an adult was employed and wrote his first seven or eight plays in the city. A major O'Neill archive is located at Connecticut College, and a family home there is a museum and registered landmark operated by the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. Dutch's Tavern on Green Street was a favorite watering hole of Eugene O'Neill and still stands today.