- Dana Evan Kaplan
Roy H. Shows Me Africatown, Where Slaves Smuggled into the US (50 Years after it became illegal) Set
Roy H. gave me a wonderful tour of Mobile recently. The highlight was Africatown, where slaves smuggled into the US settled down and tried to recreate their African lifestyle.
Africatown is right in the middle of mobile, very easy to get to. But if I didn't know what it was, I would just drive right by it. The international slave trade was outlawed in the United States in 1808. So although there were still slaves, you couldn't import anymore. This was seen as something of a compromise. Nevertheless there were people who still wanted to try to smuggle slaves in from Africa in order to make money. Timothy Meager was one of these Smugglers. In 1860 he tried to bring in 32 slaves from Ghana.
The ship that he had was called the Clotilde which brought them across the ocean and then he had the slaves transferred to small river boats which were supposed to take them to their new owners. But the plan was never carried out and the slaves were never delivered. Meanwhile the 32 people who were brought over were put on a small piece of land in what was then called Hog Bayo. They appointed a chief and a medicine man and try to recreate their African tribal culture. Here is a Niam-Niam medicine man from equatorial Africa, not exactly the same but it may give you a bit of the idea--
Roy took me to the cemetery there which was very interesting. There is also apparently a small museum inside the Mobile County training school which we did not see.
The Africatown belll used to be located inside the school. This is the bell that was from the ship brought these 32 Africans to mobile. They used to ring it when there was either something good that it happened or something threatening such as when the local team won a game or when there might be dangerous weather approaching.
There's apparently an African Town Wetlands boat tour. I would love to do that.
The Wanderer was the next to last ship to bring slaves illegally from Africa to the United States. It landed at Jekyll Island, Georgia on November 28, 1858. Here it is--