Hidden History: Gulf Coast wreck found near Mobile could be last US slave ship

Last US slave ship looks to have been discovered off the coast of Alabama

MOBILE, Ala. - (WKRG) --The remains of a wooden vessel found near Mobile, Alabama, may be the last slave-carrying ship to land in the United States.

Experts say the wreckage could be the Clotilda, which was burned after delivering African captives to Mobile in 1860.

The remains were found by a reporter who covers the coast for Al.com.

The wreck is normally covered by water in the lower Mobile-Tensaw Delta. It was recently exposed by unusually low tides and examined by archaeologists.

The Clotilda delivered 110 captives to Mobile in 1860 in the last known instance of a slave ship landing in the United States. The captain took the ship up the delta and burned it; the human cargo became slaves.

The wreckage is located near the area where the Clotilda's captain wrote about scuttling the ship.

According to WKRG, The Alabama Historical Commission has announced that is preparing to research and authenticate the recent discovery of a shipwreck believed to be the Clotilde.  

The Commission released the following press release:

The Alabama Historical Commission (AHC) is currently coordinating with local, state, and national agencies concerning the deployment of an investigation into a shipwreck discovered in January 2018 in the Mobile area. As the Alabama Historical Commission, it is our agency’s duty to uphold the state law that manages and protects shipwrecks and archaeological sites in Alabama waters.

After receiving the necessary permits and finalizing a research design, AHC will examine whether the vessel is, in fact, the Clotilda. “The AHC staff is hard at work preparing our agency for this investigation,” said Lisa D. Jones, Executive Director of the Alabama Historical Commission. “During this process we look forward to engaging with the local community.”

The archaeological process will occur in phases with Phase I beginning as early as this month. Weekly updates will be available on the AHC website at http://ahc.alabama.gov/updates.aspx and on social media.

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