On this day April 28, 1789

Fletcher Christian led a mutiny aboard the Royal Navy ship HMAV Bounty against its commander William Bligh.

HMS Bounty replica

The mutiny on the Bounty occurred aboard a Royal Navy ship on 28 April 1789, and has been commemorated by several books, films and popular songs, many of which take considerable liberties with the facts.

After five months in Tahiti, the Bounty set sail with its breadfruit cargo on 4 April 1789.

Some 1,300 miles west of Tahiti, near Tonga, mutiny broke out on 28 April 1789.

From all accounts, Fletcher Christian and several of his followers entered Bligh’s cabin, which he always left unlocked, awakened him, and pushed him on deck wearing only his nightshirt, where he was guarded by Christian holding a bayonet.

When Bligh entreated with Christian to be reasonable, Christian would only reply, “I am in hell, I am in hell!” Despite strong words and threats heard on both sides, the ship was taken bloodlessly and apparently without struggle by any of the loyalists except Bligh himself. Of the 42 men on board aside from Bligh and Christian, 18 joined Christian in mutiny, two were passive, and 22 remained loyal to Bligh.

The mutineers ordered Bligh, the ship’s master, two midshipmen, the surgeon’s mate (Ledward), and the ship’s clerk into Bounty’s launch. Several more men voluntarily joined Bligh rather than remaining aboard, as they knew that those who remained on board would be considered de facto mutineers under the Articles of War.

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