Clotilda is now a part of National Register of Historic Places—why it matters

Ben Raines Holding A Piece Of Clotilda Wreckage
Ben Raines holds the first piece of Clotilda to see the light of day in 160 years. Photo via of Joe Turner for The Bama Buzz

You may remember a few years back when Clotilda, the last known American slave ship, was discovered near Mobile. Now it’s an archaeological site and national symbol. On November 8th, Clotilda was offically added to the National Register of Historic Places. Read more to find out why this matters.

What is Clotilda?

Sonar Of The Ship
A sonar of Clotilda. Photo via Alabama Historical Commission

What once was a ship that illegally brought African captives into the US around 1860, is now an archaeological site. Also, the schooner became nationally recognized back in 2018 when it was discovered.

Did you know the Clotilda brought Africans to the US more than 50 years subsequent to the slave trade prohibition in America?

BONUS: Check out the 60 minutes feature with Anderson Cooper on the last known slave ship.

To hide the illegal voyager, the conspirators evaded authorities by burning, sinking and abandoning the ship. They also tried to split the captives, but after emancipation, a small group of men and women formed Africatown. They made the small town north of Mobile their own—creating their own identity and community in their newfound freedom.

What’s to come

Africatown Welcome Sign
Africatown Welcome Sign. Photo by Liv George for The Bama Buzz.

The now archaeological site is entering Phase 3. This means you can expect excavations and redesigns on the site. Thanks to the Alabama State Legislature funds of $1 million to the Alabama Historical Commission, we can ensure the protection of this historic site.

““It is a tremendous duty to ensure that Clotilda is protected, and the Alabama Historical Commission takes its role as the legal guardian of Clotilda very seriously. The Clotilda is an essential historic artifact and stark reminder of what transpired during the Transatlantic slave trade. We are committed to our role in preserving this story for the world.”

Lisa D. Jones, Executive Director of the Alabama Historical Commission and State Historic Preservation Officer

The Alabama Historical Commission (AHC) has maintained a focused and methodical effort to develop the site. Ultimately, the end goal is Clotilda’s preservation. AHC has contracts with RESOLVE Marine, who subcontracted with SEARCH, Inc. and Stantec, to provide an evidence-based archaeological investigation.

So look forward in the next few years to a potential memorial on the site.

COMING SOON: Explore Africatown + Clotilda in Mobile by visiting the Africatown Heritage House and Water Tours.

Want to discover more? Follow the buzz @thebamabuzz.

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Summer Guffey

Lover of Weiss Lake in the summertime and camping at Cheaha in the autumn.

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