The last known slave ship, Clotilda, is remarkably well preserved, researchers say

“There is a tremendous duty to ensure that Clotilda is protected, and the Alabama Historical Commission takes its role as legal guardian of Clotilda very seriously,” said Lisa D. Jones, executive director of the commission, in a statement. “The Clotilda is an essential historical artifact and is a strong reminder of what happened during the transatlantic slave trade.”

The Clotilda’s last voyage was made illegally because Congress had banned the importation of enslaved people more than half a century earlier.

After the schooner arrived at Mobile and put the prisoners on a river boat in July 1860, the Clotilda’s captain William Foster burned and sank the ship to hide evidence of its illicit trafficking, said Dr. Delgado. The ship has since stayed in the same spot on the Mobile River, researchers said.

After the Civil War, some of the people transported on the Clotilda asked their former enslaved Timothy Meaher, who organized and financed the trip, to give them land, said Dr. Diouf, the author of “Dreams of Africa in Alabama: The Clotilda Slave Ship and the Story of the Last Africans Bred to America.”

When Mr Meaher refused, the formerly enslaved workers bought him and others land, said Dr. Diouf and founded Africatown, where African languages ​​have been spoken for decades.

“It’s a story of resistance, of course,” she said. “You have acted as a community and family from day one and have continued to be very active after your release.”

Joycelyn Davis, who lives in Africatown and is a descendant of Charlie Lewis and Maggie Lewis, who were enslaved on the Clotilda, said she hoped archaeologists could find barrels and other items, as well as DNA that could be linked to offspring.

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