Audience versions of this page: FamilyOn April 28, 1789, crewmembers of the British trade ship Bounty mutinied against their captain while sailing in the remote South Pacific. The mutiny has been chronicled in books, theatrical productions, and movies.The Bounty had left England almost two years earlier. The ship was on a voyage to collect breadfruit saplings from the tropical island of Tahiti, in the South Pacific. The saplings would then be delivered to British plantations in the West Indies, where they would be a cheap source of food for slaves.Collecting the saplings in Tahiti took longer than expected. During the five months it took the breadfruit cuttings to grow into sturdy saplings, the Bounty’s crew became part of the local community. They enjoyed the easygoing Tahitian culture, which was a dramatic contrast to the strict—and sometimes violent—command of the Bounty’s captain, William Bligh.About a month into the Bounty’s voyage to the West Indies, a group led by Fletcher Christian abducted Bligh from his quarters. Although most of the crew remained loyal to Bligh, they were overpowered by the armed mutineers. Bligh and 18 sailors were set adrift in a rowboat, without navigational aids such as charts or compasses.Bligh then proceeded to complete a spectacular feat of navigation. Using only his watch and a quadrant, he successfully navigated 6,600 kilometers (3,500 nautical miles) across the Pacific and Indian Oceans to the island of Timor, now part of Indonesia.The mutineers endured different fates. Some returned to Tahiti, where they were arrested. Some died on the way back to England to stand trial, some were executed there, and others were pardoned. Christian, the leader of the mutiny, fled British authority and established a struggling community on the isolated island of Pitcairn. Today, most of the few dozen residents of Pitcairn Island trace their ancestry to Christian and other Bounty mutineers.
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry abduct Verb
to kidnap or illegally take a person away.
drifting or floating without control.
family (genealogical) or historical background.
person or organization responsible for making decisions.
goods carried by a ship, plane, or other vehicle.
type of map with information useful to ocean or air navigators.
Encyclopedic Entry: chart chronicle Verb
group of organisms or a social group interacting in a specific region under similar environmental conditions.
instrument used to tell direction.
Encyclopedic Entry: compass culture Noun
learned behavior of people, including their languages, belief systems, social structures, institutions, and material goods.
to form or officially organize.
to put to death by order of the law or in a well-planned manner.
accomplishment or achievement.
to set one thing or organism apart from others.
to overthrow authority.
art and science of determining an object's position, course, and distance traveled.
Encyclopedic Entry: navigation pardon Verb
to release from responsibility for a crime or other offense.
large estate or farm involving large landholdings and many workers.
navigational instrument similar to a sextant, used to measure the altitude of stars relative to the horizon.
organized resistance to an authority.
distant or far away.
person who is owned by another person or group of people.
dramatic and impressive.
buying, selling, or exchanging of goods and services.
existing in the tropics, the latitudes between the Tropic of Cancer in the north and the Tropic of Capricorn in the south.
long journey or trip.