The Clotilda was the last slave ship of the United States. Her human cargo was not even legal. By the time the vessel sneaked into Alabama waters, the importation of slaves was banned.
Timothy Meaher was a plantation owner who did not care for humanitarian laws. He made a $100,000 bet that he could bring a boatload of African slaves into the country without being detected.
In 1860, Meaher employed William Foster to sail over to the Kingdom of Dahomey (modern-day Benin) and kidnap 110 people. Meaher and Foster succeeded and burned the Clotilda to destroy the evidence. Historians have looked for the vessel ever since. In 2018, the strongest candidate was tracked down by a journalist. The shipwreck was near Mobile, Alabama, which was already a thumbs-up.
When the Dahomey captives were freed five years after their capture, they built their own town north of Mobile. Structural clues also placed the vessel’s age in the mid-1800s. (Clotilda‘s construction year was 1855.) Additionally, the 38-meter-long (124 ft) ship showed fire damage, but more research is needed to confirm its identity.