In 1797, eight years after the mutiny on the HMS Bounty, came a mutiny aboard the British frigate HMS Hermione—the bloodiest mutiny ever suffered by the Royal Navy. In American Sanctuary, historian and author Roger Ekirch shares the story of Jonathan Robbins, one of the mutineers who made his way to American shores, and for whom the British called for extradition.
He let it be known that he was an American citizen from Connecticut and had been impressed into service by the British. In one of the most catastrophic blunders of his administration, the extradition was sanctioned by President John Adams, and Robbins was sentenced to death by the British and hanged. Adams’ miscalculation ignited a political firestorm, fanned by the news of Robbins’ execution without his constitutional rights of due process and trial by jury.