For Love of Paradise

Today in History, April 28: 1789 – The Mutiny on the Bounty. The HMS Bounty had sailed from England to Tahiti, there to pick up a load of breadfruit saplings and transport them to the West Indies. The ship stayed in Tahiti for five months, during which the crew experienced the incredible peace and beauty of the islands, the very friendly hospitality of the Polynesians there. Master’s mate Fletcher Christian fell in love with one of the Tahitian women. Three weeks after the Bounty left Tahiti, Christian led a mutiny against the reportedly over-strict Captain William Bligh….Christian and his cohorts set Bligh and 18 sailors loyal to him adrift in a 26 foot long boat in the middle of the Pacific…effectively leaving them for dead. Through good seamanship however, Bligh and his sailors traveled 3,600 miles in just over two months to Timor in the East Indies. Bligh made it back to England and completed his breadfruit mission with another ship. Christian and his group returned to Tahiti. 16 of them stayed there, but Christian and 8 others, knowing they couldn’t stay on an island which was a regular stop for British authorities, they set off with a group of Tahitians in search of an unknown island. They settled on Pitcairn Island. The 16 who remained on Tahiti were captured, taken back to England and hanged. In 1808, nearly 20 years later, an American whaling ship was drawn to Pitcairn Island when they saw smoke (cooking). They found that all but one of the original mutineers had died of conflict or disease. The sole survivor, a sailor named John Adams, was eventually granted amnesty by the English. Many of the descendants of the mutineers and the Tahitians still live on Pitcairn Island, although relocated twice. Half of the population of Norfolk Island (one of the relocation islands) are their descendants.

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