Mobile, AL

Remembering Clotilda: Last US Slave Ship and Painful Part of Alabama History

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The Clotilda was a large two-masted United States of America slave ship that transported 110 Africans from Benin to Mobile, Alabama, in 1860, defying the U.S. ban on importing slaves. Despite its role in the illegal slave trade, the Clotilda holds significant historical importance, leading to its inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.

The ship's historical significance lies in its representation of the final recorded slave voyage to the United States. Its capture and subsequent burning were efforts to hide evidence of its illegal activities and avoid prosecution. However, the Clotilda's wreckage, discovered in the Mobile River Delta in 2019, confirmed its existence and provided tangible evidence for its historical importance.

The National Register of Historic Places recognizes the Clotilda's significance as a material object representative of the American slave trade. By including it in the registry, the aim is to educate and memorialize the egregious institution of slavery, acknowledging the enduring impacts on African Americans and promoting a deeper understanding of this painful period in history. The slave ship is not yet available to the public, but it will be prepared in the future for people to learn about this period of history. Currently, it has the number 100007119 and it was added to the National Register on November 8th, 2021.


1. Wells, Damon. "Unearthing the Wreckage of the Clotilda, the Slave Ship That Was the Last Known Vessel to Transport Enslaved Africans to the United States." Smithsonian Magazine, April 11, 2018. Accessed September 29, 2021.

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