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Current Affairs

Clotilda excavation

Date: 05 May 2022 Tags: Historical Places

Issue

Excavation of submerged wreck of the Clotilda will be carried out by researchers. It is believed to be the most complete remains of a slave ship.

 

Background

The Clotilda was the last known slave ship to arrive in the United States from Africa in 1860. It sunk after offloading its cargo.

 

Details

  • The location of the ship’s sinking place is in the Gulf of Mexico close to the mouth of the Mobile River in Alabama.

  • After the identity of the ship was confirmed, the researchers announced that two-thirds of the original ship remained intact.

 

Slave trade

  • The ships travelled from the coast of West Africa to America. About 10-12 million Africans were transported to the Americas as part of the transatlantic slave trade.

  • The conditions were unhygienic and extremely difficult. Slaves were treated like animals and fastened using metal chains.

  • About 10-15 per cent of slaves died during the journey due to bad health.

 

The Clotilda

  • The Clotilda was owned by a wealthy businessman named Timothy Meaher. The ship was captained by William Foster.

  • The ship sailed to Whydah, a port in the kingdom of Dahomey (now Benin) and returned after purchasing cargo of slaves.

 

The sinking

The ship was sunk deliberately after being set on fire and slaves removed illegally due to prohibition of a law that prevented import of new slaves into the US.

 

Demand for slaves

  • The cultivation of cotton relied heavily on slave labour, and the ban had resulted in skyrocketing of slave prices.

  • Plantation owners were in favour of resumption of the global slave trade, and provided incentive for men like Meaher.

 

Abolishing slavery

  • In January 1865, President Abraham Lincoln enabled the Congress to pass the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery.

  • Many of the freed slaves purchased some land and established a community. The community succeeded in preserving their culture and traditions.