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.