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Last known US slave ship discovered in Alabama

PICTURED: The permanent memorial to honour the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade at the UN headquarters in New York

THE LAST known US slave ship has been discovered in Alabama.

The Clotilda, which transported slaves from Africa to the US, was found in Alabama’s Mobile River almost 160 years after it was deliberately sunk.

The discovery, a collaboration between Search Inc, The Alabama Historical Commission and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, was made following a year-long investigation involving marine archeologists.

"The discovery of the Clotilda sheds new light on a lost chapter of American history," Fredrik Hiebert, archaeologist-in-residence at the National Geographic Society, which supported the search told National Geographic. "This finding is also a critical piece of the story of Africatown, which was built by the resilient descendants of America’s last slave ship."

The ship smuggled African men, women and children in to the US in secret, operating decades after Congress banned the importation of slaves into the country in 1808. It was purposely sunk to destroy evidence of its existence.

On its final journey it is believed to have brought 110 captives to the US. One girl is believed to have died during the six-week journey from West Africa to Alabama, National Geographic reported.

“The discovery carries intense, personal meaning for an Alabama community of descendants of the ship’s survivors,” historian and professor at Howard University Dr Ana Lucia Araujo said.

While researchers have not found a nameplate or any inscribed materials, they were able to identify the remains via other means such as wood samples and metal fasteners.

It "matched everything on record about Clotilda," James Delgado, Search Inc, told National Geographic.

After slavery was abolished, the Africans who arrived on board the Clotilda bought small plots of land in Alabama and formed a close community which was known as Africatown, National Geographic, which first reported the news that the Clotilda had been found and details of its discovery, said.

Some of the descendants of those who were held captive on the ship still live in the surrounding area.

One descendant, Joycelyn Davis, told Associated Press: “I’m sure people had given up on finding it. It’s a wow factor.”

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