Forced Marriage as a 12-Year-Old Girl: The Life of America’s Last Slave Ship Survivor

By Becky Little | History

Like many African people forced into American slavery, Redoshi was only a child when slave traders chained her to their boat. Kidnapped at age 12 in what is now Benin, she became a prisoner on the Clotildathe last known slave ship to smuggle people into the United States. And, as one scholar in the United Kingdom has discovered, she became the last known surviving member of that ship: Redoshi lived until 1937, a full 72 years after slavery’s abolition.

Before scholar Hannah Durkin of Newcastle University identified Redoshi, the last known survivor of the Clotilda was Oluale Kossola, a man captured at age 19 in West Africa who lived until 1935 as “Cudjo Lewis.” Both he and Redoshi were among the more than 100 African children, teenagers and young adults who arrived in Alabama on the illegal slave ship in 1860, one year before the Civil War.

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