In 1860, approximately 52 years after slavery was outlawed in America a wealthy businessman named Timothy Meaher was responsible for the last cargo of African slaves that entered America. According to accounts, Meaher made a bet that he could get the illegal cargo into America without any problems. He borrowed a ship named the “Clotilde” from a friend of his to pull off his crime.
Meaher burnt the ship after he safety got all of the slaves onto a smaller riverboat. However, authorities received word of what he was attempting to do and intercepted his cargo before they could arrive to their new slave owners. Meaher was tried for his crimes but never convicted. The slaves he brought over from Ghana, there were 32 total, were forced to work in the cotton fields until emancipation took place in 1865. Their initial idea was to go back home to Africa, but they soon realized they didn’t have the funds necessary to pull off such a trip.
At that point, they began saving money to buy a piece of land from Timothy Meaher, which they did. Once there, their survival instincts kicked in and they began fishing and hunting for their food as well as building shelter out of what they found in the bayou. This created the basis for what we now know as “Africatown”. The new community would expand after emancipation when former slaves would join them. The community was distinctively unique because they instituted their African tribal customs into the small Alabama enclave.
Not only did they speak their native tongue, but they also appointed a chief and medicine man. The descendants of those slaves still live in Africatown today. The creation of “Africatown” is an extremely important part of history that many people don’t know about. It’s another shining example of what we are capable of when left to our own devices without any outside influences.