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Like other native tribes, the Wampanoags did not share the settlers' concepts of private property.The tribe may have believed they were granting usage rights to the land, not giving it up permanently.New Bedford Harbor, a body of water shared with Fairhaven, is actually the estuary of the Acushnet River where it empties into Buzzards Bay.The river empties into the bay beyond Clark's Point, the southernmost point of the city.However, rather than settle the area, he returned to England at the request of his crew. English Plymouth Colony settlers purchased the land from chief Massasoit of the Wampanoag tribe.Whether the transfer of the land was legitimately done has been the subject of intense controversy.

A section of Old Dartmouth near the west bank of the Acushnet River, originally called Bedford Village, was officially incorporated as the town of New Bedford in 1787 after the American Revolutionary War.

At approximately the same time, New Bedford began to supplant Nantucket as the nation's preeminent whaling port, thanks to its deeper harbor and location on the mainland.

Whaling dominated the economy of the city for much of the century.

Fort Taber and Fort Rodman (also called the "Fort at Clark's Point") were built during the American Civil War and are now in Fort Taber Park.

Both forts are often called Fort Taber, including in some references.

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