Creole Affair

In the fall of 1841, the slave ship Creole sailed from Virginia for New Orleans, carrying a crew of 19 and 135 slaves. As the ship neared the Bahamas, some of the captives broke out of the hold, killed one crewman, commandeered the ship and sailed it into port at Nassau. Nineteen of the slaves were imprisoned by the British as mutineers; the remaining slaves were detained aboard ship, but were freed by angry islanders.

The British refused the Tyler administration's request for extradition of the mutineers. Eventually all of the slaves were released.

The matter sparked a fire storm of anti-British feeling, in particular from Southern slave-owning interests. Relations between the two countries improved in 1842 with the Webster-Ashburton Treaty. In 1855, Britain compensated the slave owners for their losses in an amount of more than $110,000.

This incident was in some ways similar to the Amistad case, but one major difference was that the Creole slaves were owned by Americans. Some of those who had been critical of the treatment of Spanish-owned slaves expressed a different view when American property was at stake.

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