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State Pier -- New Bedford, Massachusetts

The site of a booming whaling industry in the 1800s and a place where many slaves first set foot on free soil.
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State Pier -- New Bedford, Massachusetts

Ernestina

State Pier

You are looking at what was once George Howland's wharf and later Merchants' Wharf, one of the more than twenty slips and wharves in New Bedford in the late 1840s. Both whaling and coasting vessels were repaired and outfitted for their voyages at these wharves. Here fugitives who escaped slavery on coasting vessels first set foot on free soil. And runaway slaves who came to labor-hungry New Bedford stepped from these wharves onto whaling vessels. At sea from 16 to 60 months, these men of color were virtually assured that they would not be returned to slavery. State Pier Fountain

Excerpted from "The Underground Railroad: New Bedford," published by the National Park Service.

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