Researchers have been successful in discovering the remains of a ship in Alabama. Historical officials believe that this is the last known boat to have carried slaves from West Africa. Its final destination was the United States. In fact, the Alabama Historical Commission verified that this was the Gulf schooner Clotilda after taking time to assess it. The commission stated that Mobile and its waters were able to hide the last destination of this ship for about 160 years.
What’s more, Lisa Demetropoulos Jones, executive director of the commission, said that this was a remarkable archaeological discovery. She explained that the voyage belonged to the darkest periods of our modern history. Not only that, she deemed this as another concrete evidence that slavery existed.
The History of This Ship
The Clotilda became quite an infamous ship. This does not come as a surprise. Namely, it illegally carried 110 men, women, and children. They were all taken from Benin. Its final destination was Mobile, Alabama. After reaching this city, people took it into the north part of the port where they burned it. Additionally, after a careful examination, the construction and dimensions of the remains matched the ones of the Clotilda. Also, the commission confirmed that the materials matched the ones used on this ship. For instance, they utilized metal pieces and locally sourced lumber.
Furthermore, James Delgado, a maritime archaeologist, said that they did not rush into determining the names of shipwrecks. And especially not on those that did not bear any name or proof on them. But in this case, they had enough evidence to identify it as the Clotilda. According to the reports from National Geographic, the whole idea of smuggling came to be because of a wager. Namely, Tim Meaher, a rich landowner and shipbuilder from Mobile, decided to place a bet with a group of Northern businessmen. He said to them that he could get slaves to this state.
Starting from 1808, people were aware that it was illegal to bring slaves into the United States. In the end, the officials had to change federal anti-piracy laws in 1820. With this amendment, if one would participate in this trade, then they would expect to receive the death penalty. Nevertheless, this severeness did not dissuade smugglers from coming to the USA with ships brimming with people in chains. This was because plantation owners were in dire need of people who would work on their cotton fields.
More on the Fate of Captives
After the Civil War, the detainees were liberated from slavery. According to the documents, some 30 of them took the money they got while working in homes, fields, and vessels to buy land from the Meaher family. Ultimately, they made a home out of a small community named Africatown. The commission explained that the residents of this community always remembered what had happened to their ancestors. They knew that they had left Africa by force.
Following this, not much was known about the destiny of the Clotilda. But what we do know is that the commission will publish the full report on this ship next week. This will take place at a community celebration in Africatown.