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June 21 Pirates arrive at Honoruru

Merchant James Hunnewell living in Honolulu wrote in his journal: ” The brig that anchored off the harbor last evening proves to be the prize belonging to the patriots at Owyhee (Hawaii). They report they are bound for Canton, but in the course of the day they told contradictory stories. They have been collecting seed, and I expect they are bound to some uninhabited place.” For the native Islanders, Englishmen, and Americans living along the harbor, the arrival of these Spaniard/Argentine mutineers was an event! They had actually put 13 of their ship officers ashore in South America before commandeering the brig.

Committing mutiny was a serious crime on the high seas and fairly rare. But there was no Spanish criminal court in the sovereign island kingdom to hold them accountable.┬áThe mariners had their reasons, for they had sailed under a harsh commander — or so they claimed. King Kamehameha had believed their story enough to allow them to come on to Honolulu, keeping their other ship. None of the foreigners living on island had ever participated in such a drastic deed. The mutineers weren’t pirating they said, for they were just attacking their enemy Spain — which was what the new Argentine government had charged them to do when they were hired as privateers. So just because their own “pirate” captain MacDonald hadn’t been given the official letter, did it really matter when it came right down to it? They’d been hired to attack Spain’s interests, and that’s what they’d done.

Was it curiosity and awe Hunnewell and the others felt, or a bit of fear of these bold men?

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