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Happy Saturday. Coming up this week, we have an episode involving William Bligh, who became infamous after being the victim of a mutiny aboard the HMS Bounty.


We are replaying our June 16th, 2010, episode from past hosts Katie and Sarah. So that story will be a little fresher on people's minds. Sarah and Dillema also put out an update to this episode on December 3rd, 2012, after the replica of the bounty, which was built in 1960, sank during Hurricane Sandy. We're using the original version since having multiple introductions seems weird. Also just a heads up that this episode contains a very brief mention of just generations of widespread sexual abuses that were committed at Pitcairn Island.


That's the island where some of the bounty mutineers settled with Tahitian people they had captured after the mutiny. Honestly, the whole thing is even more horrifying that than it seems upon hearing just that description in the episodes. If you go looking for the resources they reference, it is pretty graphic. Otherwise, enjoy. Welcome to stuff you missed in History Class, A production of I Heart Radio. Hello and welcome to the podcast, I'm Katie Lambert, and I'm Sarah Daudi, and most of us know a little bit about our topic for today, The Mutiny on the Bounty.


And we know there's this outraged group of sailors and they mutiny against their captain. And two amazing stories ensue in. The first is that the mutineers with a group of Tahitian women end up establishing a colony on this remote Pacific island that still exists today, the island in the colony, obviously. And then the other is that the cast off captain and his loyalists navigate thousands of miles to safety and make it all the way back to England eventually. But that's about all most people know well.


And our understanding of the people involved isn't quite as good as our understanding of the basics. And that's partly due to the misleading but entertaining film portrayals of the stories. Two leading men in film, Captain Bligh and our mutineer, Fletcher Christian. Yeah, most of the films depict Bligh as this hard nosed bully, and Christian is a dashing hero. But those depictions aren't necessarily correct. And Times movies lie. Yeah, it turns out, though, that the films weren't the first to skew it that way with with one as the hero and one as this mean old captain.


And the two men's respective reputations actually started to grow shortly after the mutiny itself, when some of the participants are brought back to England for justice and try to skew the story and save their hides by defaming their captain. And it's these interesting back stories and others that continue centuries after the mutiny that made our listener, Kathryn in London suggest the topic. So we're going to start our mission. All right. So the famous mutiny happens in the Pacific Islands in 1789.


But before we get into that, we have to understand why the ship was there in the first place. It wasn't on your ordinary run of the mill mission.


No, it was a culinary mission. And to understand, we have to go back to 1769 when Captain James Cook's ship, the Endeavour, discovered the breadfruit in Tahiti. And Joseph Banks, a famous botanist on board, took note. And several years after this, England had a bit of a food crisis and it wasn't about feeding their own people, but about feeding their slaves in Jamaica, in the Lesser Antilles. And they were wondering, what can we feed all of these people with that's cheap and easy to grow in the Caribbean.


And part of the problem here was that they didn't have the North American colonies anymore, producing loads of food and fish to to feed these big slave populations. So botanist banks suggested the breadfruit, but of course, that's in Tahiti. So someone would have to go there, take saplings and cuttings and then attempt to propagate the tree in the West Indies. And by 1787, a very adamant banks finally convinced the king to sponsor this mission. So who would they put in charge?


Good old reliable William Bligh and William Bligh had been in the Navy for quite some time. He was born to a customs officer in seventeen fifty four, probably in Plymouth, England, and he joined the Royal Navy as a teen and rose pretty fast under the service of Captain Cook, who we mentioned earlier. And I was even there when Cook was bludgeoned to death by natives in what is now the Hawaiian Islands. So that would be an unfortunate thing to witness.


But he also learned a lot from Cook. And after returning to England and getting married and having kids, he left the Royal Navy and became a commander of merchant ships, which was a really good way to make a lot of money and to have a bit of an easier career than sailing all over the world for the Navy. Right. But he came out of retirement to serve on this breadfruit mission and his vessel would be the two hundred and fifteen ton Bethia renamed the Bounty.


And he accepted the mission. But it didn't turn out to be the prestigious, well funded scientific expedition he'd hoped it would be. The ship was tiny. He didn't get the title of master and commander, and he didn't have the security and commissioned officers that should have come with that kind of trip. But nevertheless, he's got a major trip underway. And one of the first men he recruits is Fletcher Christian, who's served him well before and has connections to his family, however.




So we have this really bizarre mission to get the breadfruit. Not a particularly popular mission, but nevertheless, it sets off December twenty third, 1787, after delays of weeks because of unsuitable weather. So a. I'd start almost right away, but the ship leaves from Spitted England, and the plan is to go to Tahiti by way of South America, sailing around the Cape Horn and they near the Cape by late March. But the weather is so bad that they make a detour in this detour is just insane if you get around the world.




If you get mad about having to go a few blocks out of your way, take note here. Their detour involves going around the Cape of Good Hope, which is in Africa, obviously, and it takes until May for them to get there. They stop at Cape Town, refit their ship, reload their supplies and head on their way. And Blim may have been disappointed with the initial expedition, but things are actually going well so far, especially considering their bad weather and the long delay.


The men are in good health. There haven't been a lot of injuries. He even loans money to Christian while they're in Africa, which Blyer was a little bit of a tightwad.


So that's really a big deal.


And from the Cape, they headed to Tasmania, which is where their troubles began.


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And this is a relatively happy time, perhaps one of the last truly happy times on this mission. Bligh has been to the islands before. He really likes Tahiti. He gets along well with the native people and he even calls Tahiti the paradise of the world. And he also gets to work on his mission, which is, of course, securing the breadfruit plants and the trees.


So he gets permission from the island chiefs to transplant and builds a place to put the plants and let them grow. And then hangs Chayut for about five months to see if the plants take and to wait out the rainy season. And his men don't seem to mind. Tahiti, of course, is gorgeous and they like the native women. But not all of their tensions melt away. Three of the men go missing with arms and ammo. They aren't found for three weeks.


Bligh gets grumpy, of course, to find that his orders aren't carried out. The men are lax about important issues. The spare sails, rot and mildew, for example. Pretty major problems happening. Yeah, that's a big deal. But finally, on April 5th, the bounty is ready to leave with its one thousand fifteen saplings. So by the 11th of April, the ship anchors at the rather ironically named Friendly Islands because not long after they leave, their Bligh and Christian begin to argue and not friendly.


No, it's not friendly. This is according to a later account. But things get worse by the twenty first. And that's when Christian is heard to say, Sir, your abuse is so bad that I cannot do my duty with any pleasure. I have been in hell for weeks with you and by April twenty fourth the two are fighting again. Lies disappointed that Christian let need of men scare him. And he's furious that the watch let a native diver make off with a small anchor.


And that brings us to our last straw, which was Bly's man hunt over stolen coconuts, which sounds absolutely ridiculous.


But I think you have to consider these people being in such close quarters with each other for so long and in an already tense situation, ready to go home, stolen coconuts become a really big deal. But Bly's specifically implicates Christian before imposing this Rashon on yams, and it just devastates Christian. Apparently, he's seen crying and Blyer, it's not as big of a deal for him. He actually doesn't stay angry for long. He invites Christian to dine with him that night.


Christian doesn't get over it so quickly, though, because predawn on April twenty eighth, according to Bly's account, Christian comes in with other men, seizes him, ties him up and threatens to kill him. And they haul him naked except for a shirt onto the deck where he's placed on the launch vessel and joined by eighteen others who were loyal to the captain. And they're given some supplies from about five days worth of food, water, some tools and a compass.


And for cutlasses, Tostin, at the last minute, three people loyal to Blyer are actually detained on board and that'll come into play later. But Blyer is there trying to reason with Christian at the last minute here. He knows what's about to happen to him and he knows that it most likely means death and death for the men on this little skiff. He tries to remind Christian that he's held his children back in England, that he's been his mentor this whole time and asks if this is proper repayment for his kindness.


And Christian says that Captain Bligh, that is the thing. I am in hell. I am in hell. So Christian is pretty tortured by this decision to mutiny against his captain. Other men at the trial substantiate this account, and it's possible that Christian had considered slipping off the ship in a raft alone, which would have been suicidal, but was talked into mutiny instead. And while a movie might end, there are podcast. Well, not so.


First, we're going to catch up with the Captain Post Mutiny. Things look really bleak, this tiny boat, lots of guys, not much food, and they're sailing through mostly uncharted water. Certain death. Yes, certain death, it seems like.


But even though Bligh isn't the best people person, maybe not the best captain for no managerial skills negotiating with folks, he's a really great navigator. And from his tiny little glimpses he's had of of charted waters, the waters that actually are charted, he's able to navigate thousands of miles back to safety. What he's done is, is pretty fast. Fantastic, and they stop on a volcanic island, but when one of them was killed by natives, Bly's determined not to stop again.


So to Timor or death, as Sarah wrote in her outline.


But the problem would be that Timor is about three thousand six hundred miles away.


And the other thing is everyone on the boat kind of hates each other, which is going to be a running theme for the rest of the podcast. They bicker and argue with each other the whole way, and of course, they're starving, too. So they have a lot of good reasons to be on the grumpy side. Somewhat miraculously, they reach Timor June 14th, 1789, and the English Chronicle calls the navigation of his little skiff through so dangerous sea, a matchless undertaking that seems beyond the verge of probability.


And from there, they go on to Jakarta and eventually find a ride all the way back to England. And Bligh is hailed as a hero. And he writes a narrative which is very popular and he also gets a new job still with the breadfruit. You think you would be read Florelle sick of breadfruit by this point, but this time around, the mission is going to be different. He's going to have lieutenants. He's going to have Marines for security.


I think the Royal Navy has realised that a mission of this size should have been managed better.


Oh, and it's payback time. The Royal Navy also wants to hunt down our mutineers if there are any mutineers left to find.


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Everybody in. Which brings us to our next question, what happened to the munier? So in 1790, the Navy Commission's captain, Edward Edwards and the Pandora to find the surviving mutineers in the Pacific and one of the Bly's gift survivors comes along to presumably to help identify the men and to talk to them and probably bring out their guilt a little, too. If this is the guy you tossed into a boat not too long ago, face to face encounter.


When the ship arrives in Tahiti, three bounty mutineers swim out to it. They're so ready to go home and they're arrested and chained while the other men are rounded up and put into the prison hut on deck, which they called Pandora's Box, which is pretty clever. And one of the survivors tells Edwards how the men got there. And he pieces together more from the journals of the captured men. But the basics are that hatred and jealousy began immediately after the mutiny, with some men thinking that Christian favored his friends among the other mutineers.


So the ship initially anchors on a tiny island south of Tahiti, and because they're pretty short on supplies, they head back to Tahiti and load up on livestock, as well as a bunch of Tahitian people, women, men, boys and one girl, and then head back to their tiny island. And they try to live there for about three months before the infighting. Again, with the enough no more, it gets insufferable. And Christian agrees to take some of the men back to Tahiti and he takes 16 of them back, implying that he'll linger nearby the island on the ship for about a day or so before slipping off.


But he doesn't doesn't happen. He leaves in the middle of the night, essentially kidnapping the women who are on board the ship. One even jumps overboard and swims back from beyond the coral reef when she realizes what's happening.


And sadly, of the 16 left in Tahiti, two are murdered. So back to our Captain Edwards. He keeps hunting for Christian and his band of men, but he can't find them. He eventually gives up and starts to head home, but runs his ship aground on Australia's Great Barrier Reef.


Thirty one of his men drown and four prisoners die. So only 10 prisoners make it back to England, where they will be tried together. And the prosecution rests on three points. These men didn't try to stop the mutiny. They didn't get into the launch with Bligh and they didn't try to get to England after the mutiny, but hid instead.


And there's still more fighting among the defendants over who did what, because obviously this is the time to implicate your fellows. He was the guy with the weapon. It wasn't me. I was dragged into the whole thing by Christian. You can imagine it goes on and on. And four of the men have letters from Bligh declaring them innocent. So this court martial for them is pretty much a formality. They'll be OK. Three are virtually assured death because they had all been seen with arms.


Everyone can agree that these three guys were bearing arms and three are kind of up in the air, especially one named Peter Hayward, who's the only officer charged. And he was only 15 at the time of the mutiny. He's from a really well connected family, though, and says that he's young and confused at the time of the mutiny that he had been sleeping below deck so hadn't been able to react until it was a bit too late. And he didn't want to join the launch because it was so overloaded.


But interestingly, too, it's his testimony that kind of helps build up the legend of Bligh as a sadistic, incompetent captain, something that'll help Hayward get off the hook.


And he, of course, isn't there to defend his own name. He's on breadfruit mission part two. So that's the only account that people are going by, really.


So ultimately, one of the prisoners gets off on a legal technicality to are pardoned, including Hayward and then three Hangu at Portsmouth Harbor. And their bodies are displayed for two hours in the rain. Just a warning to other would message to you.


So Bligh's second breadfruit mission is successful. He secures two thousand one hundred and twenty six plants. He manages to get six hundred and seventy eight of them to the West Indies. And there he delivers them at St.. Vincent and Jamaica. And he was delayed there by the start of the French Revolution, but eventually returned and continues his up and down career. Being gone for the trial was very unfortunate for his reputation, since a bit of a pamphlet war started not only with Hayward's claims against his character, but Christian's brother, a law professor at Cambridge who interviews the crew members to show problems with the command.


And that's where he gets his nickname, The Bounty Bastard, which haunts him for the rest of his life.


But catching up with Christian and his men. What happens to them, Captain Edwards is never able to find them, presumably they're all dead. They don't make it. But the second act of this story continues in 1810 when the American ship Topaze and Captain Folger find this Englishman, Alexander Smith, also known as John Adams on Pitcairn Island in the South Pacific. So what's he doing here? He's claiming he's a bounty survivor. He tells how the group of mutineers to Haitian women and mail to Haitian servants landed there in 1790 and stripped and burned the bounty to cover their tracks in fighting.


Once again, it kills off almost everyone with Christian getting shot in the neck with a pistol.


Although other rumors do have Christian escaping Pitcairn and returning to England, probably unlikely. It seems like infighting is our general trend here and we should probably go. We're going with the pistol, but just because most of the men have killed each other off doesn't mean that this island is devoid of a population. There has been a lot of repopulating going on at the same time in the island now has thirty five inhabitants and Smith is their leader and the first to be born on the island is actually Christians own son.


And so this new expedition finds a 20 year old Thursday, October Christian, the descendent of Fletcher, and that the Haitian woman, a name we had a lot of fun with earlier today. Some of the settlers eventually immigrate to Norfolk Island, east of Australia, and many of them still live there today, but others still live on Pitcairn, where they speak English and Pitcairn, a mix of taxation and 18th century English, which sounds pretty cool. And they trade with ships that come by or sell their stuff online.


But a few years ago, they had a scandal when numerous men were arrested and charged with abusing underage girls. I'd read a big article in Vanity Fair about it called Trouble in Paradise, which you can find online. Sarah, read some other accounts.


Yeah, an NPR story about the journalist Kathy Marks, who had unearthed this whole history, which apparently stretched back for generations, at least three generations of abuse. That's just a side note for us. We're going to go to the more popular game of what went wrong.


So why was there this mutiny in the first place? That's the big popular question. And one myth to debunk is that Blyer and Christian had this secret illicit relationship. And that's why Christian just got so angry at Bly and mutinied. He was in hell. He was in hell. Exactly. So the historian who first suggested this idea retracted it later after she reassessed the size of the ship and figured that there was no way you could have conducted a secret affair aboard a vessel so small.


And this mutiny also didn't happen because Bly was too strict in his captain's log, he had noted that he hadn't punished anyone until several months. And he also noted that he'd hoped to complete the journey without it. Flogging and those types of punishment weren't something that he relied on. That was a sign of trouble for him.


Yeah, he was really pretty light on corporal punishment as far as other captains in the Pacific went. He's a pretty progressive captain, according to Caroline Alexander, who is a historian who's written several articles and books on the subject. And she said that especially in terms of food and sleep for the men, he's extremely progressive. So it wasn't about that. It wasn't that he was this tyrannical, physically abusive captain, but he could have been verbally and personally abusive in a way that really needled his men.


So Alexander's biggest cause of the mutiny is Fletcher Christian himself. And she says that it wouldn't have happened without him and that it happened because of his own personal breakdown. So maybe we shouldn't look to to blame for our problems, but to Christian himself. So, Sarah, was this mission for breadfruit all for naught? Yeah, we have to catch up with the breadfruit here, since it's the whole purpose for this story. The specimens that arrive in Jamaica are practically too late because it takes a while for this exotic, strange food to catch on.


And by the time it finally does catch on, slavery has been abolished by the British. Today, though, it's actually a really popular food in Jamaica. And according to the Smithsonian, a mature tree produces 200 pounds of fruit a season, which is kind of insane. And it's filled with protein and calories and carbohydrates and nutrients. And you can grill it and fry it and bake it and roast it.


I mean, I feel like I'm talking about shrimp and for some thinking the same thing. Thanks so much for joining us on this Saturday. Since this episode is out of the archive, if you heard an email address or a Facebook URL or something similar over the course of the show, that could be obsolete. Now, our current email address is History podcast at I Heart Radio Dotcom. Our old HowStuffWorks email address no longer works, and you can find us all over social media at MTT in history.


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