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The Creole Mutiny


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George and Willene Hendrick are independent scholars and researchers who together have edited Fleeing for Freedom and Two Slave Rebellions at Sea, as well as several collections of Carl Sandburg's poems, including Poems for the People. George Hendrick, formerly professor of English at the University of Illinois, also edited To Reach Eternity: The Letters of James Jones. The Hendricks live in Urbana, Illinois.


On the evening of November 7, 1841, 39 slaves on the brig Creole, en route from Richmond, Va., to New Orleans, revolted and seized the ship from its white crew. The 39, "property" of a single owner, killed a guard and wounded the captain and two others. They forced the brig to be sailed into Nassau harbor in the Bahamas, where the British government, which had outlawed slavery in 1834, offered freedom to the slaves, perhaps 139 in all (most from other "owners"), on board. The British action touched off a wave of protest in America, but the British refused to back down. Eventually, the slave owners were reimbursed more than $110,000 by the Anglo-American Claims Commission. While the case is well-known to scholars, the Hendricks (On the Illinois Frontier) return to primary source material, including the insurance claims made by the slaveholders, to reconstruct the mutiny. Of the 39 participants, the names of leader Madison Washington and 18 others are known, but their testimony either was not recorded or does not survive. In addition to detailing conditions on typical slave ships, the Hendricks include accounts of Madison Washington's earlier escape and recapture when he tried to rescue his wife, and ways in which Washington inspired Frederick Douglass and Lydia Maria Child, among others (shown among the 24 b&w illus.). The result is a concise account of a lesser-known but crucial moment in the history of slavery. (Apr.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

"This compelling history is particularly fascinating as a look at international law and the differing social policies of the U.S. and Britain regarding slavery at the time." - Booklist"

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