It was a center for privateering during the Revolutionary War and War of 1812.
Beginning about 1832, it added numerous ships to the whaling fleet. Today, the city gives little hint of its former maritime importance.
Newburyport prior to the Civil War had always been divided over slavery.
While many of its leading citizens profited from and defended slavery, it also had been a frequent topic of pulpit rhetoric.
The abolitionist movement reached a peak with the activities of William Lloyd Garrison, who was born in Newburyport and helped develop an anti-slavery climate.
The outer circumferential highway of Boston, Interstate 495, passes nearby in Amesbury. The Newburyport/Rockport MBTA commuter rail from Boston's North Station terminates in Newburyport.
At this time, construction of major highways brought larger cities such as Lawrence and Lowell into shopping range.