The Slave Ship Wanderer

Tom Henderson Wells


“A valuable addition to the scholarly literature dealing with the illegal slave trade under the American flag.”
Journal of American History

“Perhaps the most important contribution which Professor Wells makes is the light he sheds on the spirit of the times during years when, despite lack of strong public support for reviving the slave trade, public prosecutors, marshals, judges, and private individuals felt that militant loyalty to their section demanded their defiance of the laws.”
Journal of Southern History

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Published in 1967, The Slave Ship Wanderer details the journey of the elegant yacht that was used to secretly land a cargo of 400 enslaved Africans off the coast of Jekyll Island, Georgia, in 1859. It was the last successful large-scale importation of slaves into the United States, and it was done in defiance of federal law. The Wanderer's crew had outrun ships of both the British and American Navies and the creators of the plot went on to evade federal marshals as they attempted to sell the slaves throughout the South.

Tom Henderson Wells documents the story behind the prominent Georgian, Charles Lamar, who engineered the plot. He also explores the regional and national attention the story received and the failure to prosecute those involved. In tracing the story of the Wanderer, Wells provides insight into the heated political and social climate of the South on the verge of secession.

Page count: 116 pp.
Trim size: 6 x 9

Read more about the Wanderer at the New Georgia Encyclopedia.


List price: $23.95

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Tom Henderson Wells (1917-1971) served more than twenty-five years in the Navy and received the Bronze Star in the Korean War. He is the author of numerous books including Commodore Moore and the Texas Navy and The Confederate Navy: A Study in Organization.