Long after the outlawing of the slave trade in the United States, one Alabama businessman made a wager with friends that he would be able to bring slaves from West Africa back to the country without detection. Unfortunately, businessman Timothy Meaher was successful, smuggling back 110 slaves and unknowingly starting a legacy that would change American history forever.
The boat, called The Clotilda, was said to have been burned up after the illegal trip, its remnants never discovered until recently. Thanks to some shifting weather conditions, the swampy shores of the delta may have finally revealed this piece of history, according to this Alabama reporter. With low tides revealing it's burned remains, the boat seemed to have the exact same dimensions as the famous Clotilda.
Ben Raines, the investigative reporter who came across it, knew this lower-than-usual tide would be the only time he'd be able to see the wreckage up close & personal. “That’s why I went looking when I did. You would not have been able to see it on a normal low tide, it would have all been under water,” he said.
In the Mobile, AL community the story is a well-known one, with many of the slaves brought over on that very ship going on to found Africatown in the area. Meaher even boasted about the trip in public newspapers in 1890. On a recent episode of Finding Your Roots, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. reveals to Questlove that his own ancestors happened to be on that fateful ship.