Charles Gibbs, born into a seafaring family in Rhode Island, began his career as a privateer as a young man. Working primarily out of the Bahamas, according to his later confessions, he engaged in mutinies and murders across the Caribbean throughout the 1820s.
His murderous career came to an end after he, fellow crewman Thomas J. Wansley, who was Black, and others, mutineed aboard the Vineyard off the coast of Long Island, killing the captain and first mate, on November 23, 1830. While fleeing into harbor, several of the mutineers were killed and much of their stolen cargo of silver was lost.
Gibbs and Wansley survived, only to be captured and sent to New York City to stand trial. Prosecuted by United States Attorneys, James Alexander Hamilton and Philip Hamilton, sons of Andrew Hamilton, Gibbs and Wansley were convicted of murder on the high seas and sentenced to death.
Charles Gibbs and Thomas Wansley were hanged together on Ellis Island on April 22, 1831.