Jamaican Maroons date back to the English conquest of Jamaica in 1655. At that time, the retreating Spanish freed their African slaves. They armed them and encouraged them to fight a guerrilla war against the new British Colonies. The released and runaway slaves, aided by Jamaica's mountainous terrain; evaded capture, formed fighting bands and eventually split into two powerful communities. It is from these remote communities that the Jamaican Maroons raided British settlements and plantations for supplies and attracted more runaway slaves. The eastern community was known as the Windward Maroons and the one further west was called Leeward Maroons.
The name Maroon is the British corruption of the Spanish word cimarrones, meaning wild or untamed. Living in inaccessible regions of Jamaica, the numbers of the Maroons grew as more and more runaway slaves fleeing from the new British plantations, flocked to their cause. With their continual raiding of the British plantations, the Maroons rapidly became a thorn in the side of the British colonists. Unique among all Africans that were brought to the New World as slaves, the Maroons earned for themselves an autonomy that no other African slaves could.
During the 18th century, the powerful Maroons, who settled in the mountains of Jamaica, carved out a significant area of influence. Through the use of slave labor, the production of sugar in this British colony flourished. But the courageous resistance of the Maroons threatened this prosperous industry. These efforts included plantation raids, the killing of white militiamen, and the freeing of slaves. The threat to the system was clear and present; hence, the planters were willing to sign a treaty with the Maroons in 1738. The treaty offers good insight to the relationship between the planters and the Maroons at the time, and deserves further attention.
Body of Research
The Jamaican Maroons were runaway slaves who fought the British during the 18th