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The story of The Wanderer

Updated: Aug 17, 2022

Far beyond the shores of Savannah, and lying on the debts of the sea off the coast of Cuba, lies a ship with a bigger history connected to Savannah than almost any other. “The Wanderer” was a schooner originally built in New York in 1857 under the investment of a rich group of men in Savannah led by Charles A.L Lamar. The captain, William C. Corrie, was ordered by these investors to go to the coast of Africa, and kidnap a few hundred African men to bring into slavery in the united states. The slave trade had actually been made illegal in 1808, barring rich folks from funding ships to africa to kidnap people.

Corrie did as he was told, and he kidnapped 480-ish flaves, in which only 409 made it to America, with the rest having died on the voyage due to poor conditions. The kidnapped Africans were dropped off on Jekyll island in 1858 to avoid being caught by federal agents, but unfortunately for them it didn’t turn out as planned. The ship was caught and confiscated, and Lamar and his investors were put under trial. The investors would stay under house arrest until their verdict. Lamar, Corrie, and several other investors and conspirators were charged with three degrees of piracy, but the prosecutors failed to represent a good enough case so they were charged not guilty. The 400 africans were put into slavery, but fortunently they would be freed just a few years later after the civil war.

None of the Africans would ever return home again, although they tried, some desperately. One of these Africans named Warden Lee wrote a public letter titled “Please help me” in order to gain funds for him to return home. He would pass away before he could achieve his goal. The Wanderer itself would be confiscated by the Union navy, and turned into a blockade ship during the civil war. Afterwards it would return to commercial usage, making trips across the Americas to bring and deliver goods. On January 12th, 1871 it’s mercantile use would end abruptly when a sudden storm hit the cape Maisi in Cuba, where the wanderer happened to be sailing. The ship could not brave the storm, and it was lost at sea.

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