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Virtual Lecture – The Crowning Crime

January 17 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

The title is taken from a handbill published and distributed by an abolitionist organization included a poem that called the Trans-Atlantic slave trade the “Crowning Crime of Christendom.” After the United States declared the importation of slaves illegal in 1808, the U.S. Navy was charged with the mission of enforcing the law. As a result of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842, the U.S. Navy and British Royal Navy began patrolling the waters of the coast of West Africa to interdict ships carrying human cargo to the Western Hemisphere. The most productive period of anti-slaver operations came on the eve of the American Civil War when USS CONSTELLATION served as flagship for the seven-ship U.S. Africa Squadron 1859-1861.

This presentation will examine the effectiveness of the Navy’s efforts and highlight some of the results achieved until the outbreak of the Civil War, and the need for warships in American waters, brought an end to the Africa Squadron. However, CONSTELLATION did not redeploy before she made the capture of the first Confederate vessel in the Civil War, a slaver registered in Charleston, South Carolina, on May 21, 1861. As a result, participants will be learning of a not-well-known chapter in America’s maritime history, and the U.S. government’s early efforts against the institution of slavery. The information is based on research for the book USS CONSTELLATION: A Short History of the Last All-Sail Warship Built by the U.S. Navy(Donning Press, 2000).

Registration required.

Cost: $15 per household for General Admission; $10 per household for HA Members, Military, and HA Docents