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New London is a seaport city and a port of entry on the northeast coast of the United States. It is located at the mouth of the Thames River in New London County, southeastern Connecticut.
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. The Coast Guard Station New London and 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 and nearly burned to the ground on September 6, 1781 in the Battle of Groton Heights by Norwichnative Benedict Arnold in an attempt to destroy the Revolutionary privateer fleet and supplies of goods and naval stores within the city. It is 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 family of Nobel laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Eugene O'Neill (1888-1953), 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 national historic 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.