The schooner Clotilda—the last known ship to bring enslaved Africans to America’s shores—has been discovered in a remote arm of Alabama’s Mobile River following an intensive yearlong search by marine archaeologists.
The Schooner Clotilda smuggled African captives into the U.S. in 1860, more than 50 years after importing slaves was outlawed. One hundred and nine African captives survived the brutal, six-week passage from West Africa to Alabama in Clotilda’s cramped hold. Originally built to transport cargo, not people, the schooner was unique in design and dimensions – a fact that helped archaeologists identify the wreck.
Clotilda’s story began when Timothy Meaher, a wealthy Mobile landowner and shipbuilder, allegedly wagered several Northern businessmen a thousand dollars that he could smuggle a cargo of Africans into Mobile Bay under the nose of federal officials.
Clotilda’s journey and story will be opening in 2022 in the new interpretive center in Mobile.