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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 offically named after London,
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 devert General Washington and the
French Army under Rochambeau from their march on Yorktown, VA. 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 slaugtering of the militia
whom defended the fort.
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 there,
and a family home there is a museum and Registered National Landmark
operated by the O'Neill Theater Center.) Dutch's Tavern on Green
Street was a favorite watering hole of Eugene O'Neill and still