The Creole’s 135 slaves were from America and had been held legally as slaves under laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the United States. And, unlike the slaves on the Amistad, the Creole slaves apparently knew something of navigation, geography and slavery laws.
On Nov. 9, the Creole arrived in New Providence, Nassau, in the Bahamas, where its mutineers were surrounded and assisted by fellow blacks in small boats.
At the request of the American consul, the governor of the island ordered a guard on board to prevent the escape of the mutineers. After an investigation, 19 of the slaves were imprisoned. The remainder were declared free by the British government.
Two of the slaves died during their few days in captivity. The remaining 17 were freed on Nov. 16, 1841. The Creole sailed on to New Orleans, arriving on Dec. 2, 1841, with only five slaves still aboard, amid U.S. outrage against Britain.
They told the American slaves that, under Bahamian colonial law, they were free. The crew advised them to go ashore at once. The Quarantine Officer came aboard. As the captain Robert Ensor was badly wounded, the officer took First Mate Zephaniah Gifford to inform the American Consul of the events. At the Consul’s request, the governor of the Bahamas ordered a guard to board the Creole to prevent the escape of the men implicated in Hewell’s death. The 24 black soldiers were led by a white officer. This action prevented the slaves from dispersing into the city.
Fearing the British would apply their ban on slavery to the American slaves, the American consul tried to organize American sailors on the island to take back control of the ship. He intended to have them sail the ship out of British jurisdiction with the slaves still aboard. An American group of sailors approached the ship on November 12, intending to sail it away, but were foiled by a Bahamian who shouted a warning to the officer of the guard aboard the Creole. He threatened to fire into the Americans in their boat, and they withdrew.
After an investigation by magistrates, on Friday, 13 November 1841, the Bahamian Attorney-General went aboard. He told the nineteen rebels that they would be detained. He informed the remainder: “You are free, and at liberty to go onshore, and wherever you please. A fleet of small boats manned by locals, who until then had surrounded the brig at a distance, immediately came forward. The Attorney-General warned the people against boarding the Creole, but said they could provide passage to those slaves who wished to go to shore. Most did so, although three women, a girl, and a boy stayed in hiding on board. They eventually sailed with the ship to New Orleans and back to slavery.
The New Providence government arranged for a ship bound for Jamaica, also under British control, to take passengers to that island for free, and announced it in the newspaper. Numerous American blacks from the Creole left for Jamaica aboard it.
After the Bahamian government arrested the conspirators, the United States government dropped its claims for all the slaves to be returned to its custody. There was no extradition treaty at the time between Britain and the United States governing such circumstances.
The British authorities determined that the slaves had not committed any breach of British or maritime law. As under British law they were free men, they were considered to have the right to use force to escape the detention of illegal slavery. The Admiralty Court in Nassau held a special session in April to consider a charge of piracy against the men implicated in the mutiny. Ruling that their action was not piracy, the Court ordered the surviving 17 mutineers to be released on April 16, 1842. As a total of 128 slaves gained their freedom, this has been described as the “most successful slave revolt in US history.
Haki Kweli Shakur 11-9-51ADM August Third Collective NAPLA NAIM