The True Story of The Mutiny on The Bounty

The True Story of The Mutiny on The Bounty

Author: Dr. Guy Jackson
November 03, 2019

Nothing can have a greater impact on human history, on this world, and upon individual's lives than the Word of God, as God's Spirit uses it to witness the truth of Jesus Christ to the hearts of people one at a time. And perhaps no story illustrates this truth more than the true story of the mutiny on the Bounty. Have you ever heard the story, "the rest of the story?"

The Bounty was a British ship that set sail from England in 1787, bound for the South Seas. The idea was that those on board would spend some time among the islands, transplanting fruit-bearing and food-bearing trees, and doing other things to make some of the islands more habitable. After ten months of voyage, the Bounty arrived safely at its destination, and for six months, the officers and the crew gave themselves to the duties placed upon them by their government.

When the special task was completed, however, and the order came to embark again, the sailors rebelled. They had formed strong attachments for the native girls, and the climate and the ease of the South Sea island life were much to their liking. The result was a mutiny on the Bounty, and the sailors placed Captain Bligh and a few loyal men adrift on the open seas a small boat. Captain Bligh, in an almost miraculous fashion, survived the ordeal, was rescued, and eventually arrived home in London to tell his story. An expedition was launched to punish the mutineers, and in due time fourteen of them were captured and paid the penalty under British law.

But nine of the mutineers had taken the Bounty and set out to find a place where they could hide. Mutiny was, after all, a capital offense. Twelve Polynesian women, six Polynesian men, and one infant joined them. After months of exploration, they found Pitcairn Island, which had no people but an abundance of coconuts, breadfruit, and other useful crops. The group destroyed the Bounty, to avoid detection by passing ships, and settled into their own paradise.

Like the first paradise, however, this one featured hidden dangers. Unfettered sexuality provoked jealousies and rage. The root of the ti plant, one mutineer discovered, could be distilled into liquor, and they began to make their own moonshine. The underlying problem, though, was building a society with criminals, concubines, and malcontents. Within four years, all of the Polynesian men and half of the mutineers had been murdered. A few years later, only one Englishman remained: Alexander Smith, along with some fearful women and children.

This is where the story really begins. While poking through the items saved from the ship, Smith discovered a Bible. It was new to him. He had never read it before. He began to read it, and the divine power of God's Word reached into the heart of that hardened murderer on a tiny volcanic speck in the vast Pacific Ocean--and changed his life forever. The peace and love that Smith found in the Bible entirely replaced the old life of quarreling, brawling, and liquor. He began to teach the women and children from the Bible until every person on the island had experienced the same amazing change that he had found.

In 1808 (20 years after the mutiny), an American ship (the USS Topas) discovered Pitcairn Island. The crew of the Topas was shocked to find a miniature Utopia—a community of 35 English-speaking Christians living in decency, prosperity, harmony, and peace. There was no crime, disease, immorality, insanity, or illiteracy. How was it accomplished? By reading, believing, and practicing the Word of God!

The Americans reported their find, and six years later, a British ship rediscovered Pitcairn. Although the crew had orders to seize and kill any mutineers they found in the South Pacific, they couldn't bring themselves to disrupt the peaceful community by punishing Smith, now known by all on the island as "father." In fact, no one came to seize him, and he died on the island in 1829.

And even to this day, the effects continue. At the time of the writing of this article, with a population of slightly less than 100, nearly every person on Pitcairn Island is a Christian. The island originally settled by criminals and fugitives from the law has a courthouse, but it has never hosted a trial. Pitcairn's three jail cells house only life jackets.

This is the motivation and inspiration behind WORDview Ministries. This why our motto is, "Read the Bible, change your world."

(Adapted from "Mutiny and Redemption" by Elesha Coffman, Associate Editor of Christian History, and from several other sources. GJ)