town (township), Bristol county, southeastern Massachusetts, U.S. It lies on Buzzards Bay across the Acushnet River from New Bedford. The site was settled in 1652 by John Cooke, who, with John Winslow, purchased a tract of land (Sconticut) from the Wampanoag Indian chief Massasoit. After 1740 the community (then part of New Bedford and known as Oxford) was a centre of whaling operations. Herman Melville sailed (1841) from Fairhaven on the Acushnet on a voyage that inspired his first adventure novel, Typee (1846). With the decline of whaling in the mid-19th century, fishing and boatbuilding became the economic mainstays. Fairhaven was the home port of Captain Joshua Slocum, the first man to circumnavigate the globe alone (1895-98); he recounted his adventures in Sailing Alone Around the World (1900). The town was set off from New Bedford and incorporated in 1812. It is now a summer resort and residential suburb, with services and trade accounting for the largest percentages of employment. Area 12 square miles (31 square km). Pop. (1990) 16,132; (2000) 16,159.
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