History of Gloucester, Massachusetts

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One of the oldest American fishing ports is located in Gloucester, Massachusetts. The first settlement was established in 1623. The Dorchester Company, consisting of fourteen fishermen, arrived in the Gloucester area with the intent of creating "an industrious hive of pious fishermen-farmers flourishing in the salubrious atmosphere of Cape Ann," according to Rev. John White. The Dorchester Company hoped to be able to exist around the seasonal Massachusetts fisheries. Shipbuilding and farming along with trade would help to sustain the economy. This may have worked had there not been the competition from the Plymouth Company. The Plymouth Company intended to use Cape Ann as an outpost for their fishing settlement. Conflicts immediately arose between the two colonies with a victorious Dorchester Company in the end. However, the success of the fishing colony only lasted until 1625 at which time the settlement split. The farmers felt they could find more suitable land then that on Cape Ann. Fishermen and farmers moved in and out of the communities on Cape Ann for nearly twenty years before there were enough numbers settled to create a permanent town. In 1642 the town of Gloucester was incorporated. The name Gloucester is derived from Gloucestershire, England, the home of the first settlers.

The town celebrated three hundred years of settlement in 1923 with the commissioning of the famous fisherman statue. Leonard Crasks designed the sculpture of a fisherman gripping the helm, above the words "They that go down to the sea in ships". The statue is dedicated to all those who have given and lost their lives to the seas. The harbor of Cape Ann is notorious for dangerous seas and rocky coasts. These aspects are the inspiration for writers like Kipling , Longfellow and James B. Connolly.

Gloucester's economy is centered around the fishing industry. The catching of groundfish is only one aspect of the towns dependance. Gloucester is also known for their numerous fish processing facilities. The fisheries of Gloucester are currently being depleted of their stocks of cod, haddock, and yellow-tailed flounder, this is having serious effects on the community and local economy. The following case study looks at the political, sociological, economic and biological issues in the fisheries of Gloucester.

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