It might not be the most odious bet ever placed in the United States, but it may be America’s most evil wager that we know about. And now, climate change has unearthed more information about the last ship to bring slaves to these shores.

According to local legend, in the late 1850s, wealthy plantation owner Timothy Meaher was so certain that he could sneak illegal slaves kidnapped from Africa past federal officials, and into Alabama, that he was willing to put his money where his mouth was. Notwithstanding a 50-year-old law prohibiting any further international slave trade, Meaher hired Captain William Foster to sail a large schooner named the Clotilda to Africa where Foster purchased and transported 110 humans to the US in unspeakably brutal conditions. The men and women were smuggled ashore in Mobile under cover of darkness without anyone from federal government noticing their scheme, transferred to smaller boats, and delivered in chains to local plantation owners across the state.

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