Mutiny on the Bounty and the Arrival of the Breadfruit

Between 1780 and 1786 Jamaica suffered from alternating hurricanes and long periods of drought that destroyed crops. Captive enslaved people provision grounds were hard hit and there was a major food shortage. The planters were concerned because they knew that without a reliable food source, they would probably die of starvation. From as early as the 16th and 17th centuries, there had been talk of a tree in the Pacific Islands that provided a source of ‘bread’ all year round.

The planters offered large rewards to any captain who would bring back such a miraculous plant. When this failed they petitioned King George III to organize a special expedition to find and deliver it. Capt. William Bligh, an experienced 33-year-old seaman who had sailed with Capt. Cook on his second voyage around the world from 1772-75, was named commander of this expedition. His crew, including first mate and good friend Fletcher Christian, set sail from Portsmouth, England for Tahiti and Timor on The H.M.S. Bounty a few days before Christmas, 1787. Their mission- to collect seedless breadfruit plants and deliver them to Jamaica. Thus, our connection to the mutiny on the Bounty – what many see as a good mutiny move.

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