Madison Washington was an American enslaved cook who instigated a slave revolt in November 1841 on board the brig Creole. The ship was transporting 134 slaves from Virginia for sale in New Orleans, as part the coastwise slave trade. The night of Nov. 7, 1841, Washington led 17 of his fellow slaves into rebellion; they killed one of the slave traders and wounded many members of his crew on board. The slaves took control of the Creole, and commanded it be sailed to Nassau which was under British Control. #Slavery in Great Britain had been abolished in 1839. Upon arriving at Nassau, Bahamas on November 9, the ship was boarded by #Black Bahamians who declared the group free under British colonial law.
Because of the death of the slave trader, the governor of the Bahamas could not let the men go free. Washington and his compatriots in the revolt were detained while the rest were allowed to live as free people. There were many demands by the Americans for the British to return the slaves but British declared the men as free persons under their law and refused their return. White slave owners were angered at the loss of workers who to them were nothing more than their property.
The British took Washington and his 18 conspirators into custody under charges of mutiny. A special session of the Admiralty Court heard the case, but ruled in favor of the men and freed them in April 1842. The remaining 116 slaves had achieved freedom immediately in the preceding fall. Five slaves were left on the ship and chose to return into slavery in the United States. Over 125 slaves were freed due to the revolt. Among abolitionists and even the British, who outlawed slavery in 1834, Washington was considered a hero.