Home Artifacts Social Media Claims Slave Ships Didn’t Exist Is False

Social Media Claims Slave Ships Didn’t Exist Is False


Social media users questioned much of the American story, wondering if there was any evidence to prove its existence.

“Have you ever seen a real slave ship? I’ve seen all kinds of artifacts, but never a slave ship, have I? asked one Twitter user.

“S— not real,” someone else replied. “I’m beginning to believe that the transatlantic slave trade is a fake story.”

The Twitter user who first asked the question posted a screenshot of the exchange on Instagram, which has since been deleted. The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat fake news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Learn more about our partnership with Facebook.)

There is over 400 years of evidence that slave ships and the slave trade itself existed.

The remains of the Clotilda, the last known ship that carried kidnapped slaves from Benin, West Africa to the United States, were found in the Mobile River in Alabama in May 2019.

The Alabama Historical Commission conducted research to verify the ship was indeed the Clotilda, which illegally transported 110 people to the state in 1860, 50 years after the United States banned the importation of slaves . Black emancipation in the United States was not recognized until 1865.

“The co-conspirators, Timothy Meaher and Captain William Foster made an effort to evade authorities and destroy evidence of their criminal voyage by sinking, burning and abandoning ship, then dividing the kidnapped Africans between their captors, where they remained in slavery until the end of the Civil War,” the Alabama Historical Commission wrote on its website.

To keep the parts of the ship intact, the Clotilda remains at the bottom of the river. NPR reported that commission researchers are working to determine if it is possible to reassemble the ship without destroying it. In the meantime, the commission has released images and collected pieces of the wreckage to prove its location and existence.

Researchers recovered wood from the wreckage of the Clotilda, May 4, 2022. (AP)

PolitiFact contacted the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture to respond to the claim. A spokesperson for the museum referred to the Slave Wrecks Project, a collaborative international initiative between organizations in America, Africa and the Caribbean to research and study the global slave trade “particularly through the prism of shipwrecks. slaves”.

The project combines “maritime and historical archaeology, history and anthropology” to study the international slave trade. National Geographic provided a detailed overview of the project’s work to dive and search for historic maritime shipwreck sites.

A total of 12.5 million slaves were brought to the United States.

Our decision

Social media users questioned the existence of slave ships and the transatlantic slave trade.

There is overwhelming evidence, including wrecks from slave ship sites, to prove that slave ships and the transatlantic slave trade existed.

We rate this claim Pants on Fire!