Friday, January 26, 2018

The Last Slave Ship

A year before the Civil War began, an Alabama businessman bet that he could smuggle slaves from Africa to the United States. Timothy Meaher bought an 86-foot-long sailboat with a beam  of 23 ft , the Clotilda, and hired its builder, William Foster, to sail to West Africa and bring back slaves to Alabama. The sponsors had arranged to buy slaves for $50 per person in Whydah, Dahomey, on May 15, 1859. In either autumn 1859 or   July 9, 1860, the ship returned to the waters offshore of Mobile with 110-160 slaves.

A few miles north of Mobile, the captain became concerned that the US authorities were in pursuit. The crew transferred the slaves to a riverboat, and set the ship on fire. The ship sunk in the muddy banks of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta. The African slaves were distributed to those having a financial interest in the Clotilda venture. Timothy Meaher kept thirty of the slaves on his property near Mobile.

On January 22, 2018, Ben Raines, an investigative reporter with, announced that he may have found the wreckage on the shore of a swampy island in the delta. 
Please see the videos on the
 Clotilda, prepared by students at the WaWaWa Diaspora Center and The Last Slave Ship.