Joseph Gadett and Thomas Collinet

The trading ship Orbit left New York City for Brazil in the summer of 1828. After more than a year in Brazil, the ship and its cargo departed for Africa on January 17, 1830.

After unloading its cargo and taking on a cargo of palm oil, ivory, and precious metals, the Orbit exchanged most of its crew for a new crew of Black sailors that included Joseph Gadett and Thomas Collinet. Gadett, Collinet, and a third sailor quickly realized the value of their cargo and made plans to take over the ship.

While Captain Samuel Woodbury slept, the three mutineers killed him and threw him overboard. The remaining crew were then threatened with death if they did not provide assistance.

While at sea on September 11, 1830, the ship encountered the American brig, Mentor. The two sailors from the Orbit that boarded the Mentor to share information explained that their ship had been seized.

Once in port, the crew of Mentor spread word about the piracy aboard Orbit. Though Orbit was never recovered, Gadett and Collinet were found on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent, where they were arrested. They were returned to Boston via Cuba to stand trial.

National Gazette (Philadelphia), April 28, 1831

On trial for piracy in federal court, the two men confessed. They were convicted and sentenced to death. Joseph Gadett and Thomas Collinet were hanged together in Boston on July 1, 1831.

Author: Bill Lofquist

I am a sociologist and death penalty scholar at the State University of New York at Geneseo. I am also a Pittsburgh native. My present research focuses on the history of the death penalty in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Pa. This website is dedicated to collecting, analyzing, and sharing information about all Allegheny County cases in which a death sentence was imposed. Please share any questions or comments, errors or omissions, or other matters of interest related to these cases or to the broader history of the death penalty in Allegheny County.

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