On July 9, 1860, the Clotilda sails to Alabama with 109 illegally enslaved men and women. It disappears and is never seen again. A group of maritime archeologists search the Mobile River for remains of the ship.
Clotida Bet (02:03)
In 1860, Timothy Mayer and other Alabama slavers bet that they could import slaves without the U.S. Marshalls' knowledge. Though slavery remains legal, the importation of slaves had been outlawed for 52 years. The ship's crew buys people in Ouidah, modern-day Benin.
Search for Clotida (06:20)
James Delgado leads the search in the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta. The team uses underwater sonar to scan the riverbed and finds numerous shipwrecks. Diver Kamau Sadiki and his team discover a wooden centerboard.
Possible Clotida Site (03:01)
The dive team collects wooden samples for laboratory testing. Sonar provides an image of the shipwreck in the murky water. The Clotilda had a deeper haul than most schooners so it could carry more human cargo.
Slave Shipwrecks (04:37)
Experts have identified less than 10 slave shipwrecks. A team in Cahuita, Costa Rica looks to confirm a local legend that two shipwrecks are of slave ships. Slave ships were normally large and heavily armed.
Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade (05:24)
The Costa Rican wrecks are not on the main trans-Atlantic slave trade routes. Slave traders would sail from Europe to West African slave ports and then to the New World. The Costa Rican team finds bricks that cover the ships' origins as a slave ship.
Costa Rican Shipwrecks (03:25)
Archeologist Lynn Harris and the team identify the wrecks as Danish slave ships. The two ships were carrying almost 800 enslaved Africans when they wrecked in 1710. The crews abandoned ship; the fate of the enslaved Africans remains unknown.
Escaping Slavery (05:12)
Escape was difficult, but some managed with the help of the Underground Railroad. On Lake Michigan, archeologists search for The Home, a ship carrying escaped slaves to Canada that sunk in 1858.
Freedom Runner (06:30)
Archeologist Mallory Haas and her team on Lake Michigan work to identify a shipwreck. The wooden ship shows signs of a collision with another ship. Haas conducts research to determine whether the lumber ship hid escaped slaves.
Clotida's Identification (07:43)
The team in Alabama tries to determine if the wreck in the Mobile River is Clotilda. Lab results and a 3D scan reveal that the ship was burned. Captain William Foster's log states he burned the Clotilda because he had used it for illegal slave trade.
Credits: Episode 1: America's Last Slave Ship (Drain the Oceans) (00:02)
Credits: Episode 1: America's Last Slave Ship (Drain the Oceans)
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