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The Arrival of the Clotilde

The Clotilde was the last illegal slave ship that arrived at Mobile, Alabama, in 1860. Built by Timothy Meaher in 1856, it was a 2-masted schooner, 86 feet long and 23 feet wide, with a copper hull. In 1808, federal law prohibited importing slaves into America. But 50 years later, Meaher claimed that his ship could deliver African slaves to the United States. The Clotilde, under the command of William Foster, carried a cargo of Africans from the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa. To avoid being captured by the federal authorities, Captain Foster transferred the Africans to a riverboat. He then burned and sank the ship. Meaher and Foster were unable to sell the slaves. Many of the slaves escaped and they established their own community on the banks of the Mobile River. The descendants of the slaves still live in the area, which is known as Africatown.