Threatened Mutiny on a Voyage from India
The real reason for the planned mutiny was uncovered by the authorities in Pernambuco: migrants were under the impression that the voyage would only take ten to twelve days and that they would be allowed more opium than was allotted. This sentiment was not uncommon and can be seen on another ship departing from Calcutta. The wife of the captain on the Salsette, Mrs. Swinton, recounts "out of the 324 coolies who came on board, I do not believe five, at most, either know where they are going, or what is to be their occupation. My heart often yearned over them, in thinking of the way they were entrapped, as many of them asked me to recommend them to get a good situation on their arrival at the island." In both situations, recruiters, whose sole job was to procure as many indentured laborers as possible, hid the conditions from the migrants, causing further discontent.
1. Sarup, Leela Gujadhur. Colonial emigration, 19th, 20th centuries: annual reports from the port of Calcutta to the British & foreign colonies. Aldrich International, 2006. 62-65.
2. E. Swinton. “Journal of a Voyage with Coolie Emigrants, from Calcutta to Trinidad”. London: LSE Selected Pamphlets, 1859. 12.