Jamaican Maroons: were they tricked into becoming defacto slave catchers?

Jun 2015
256
London UK
When studying thier history of fleeing runaways who set up their own free communities in the hills with the indigenous Taino people before they died out. As part of their treaty with the British, they would be free and independent and dont have to pay taxes to the government. However they had to hand back any runaways who tried to join them. Why did they keep to that agreement? Some say they may have been tricked because the treaty was written in English and they were illerate? If that was the case they could have ignored it. They were used to put down the Paul Bogle rebellion in Morant Bay. Didnt they see the rebellion as people who did the same they did?

My thoughts on the matter, was that the Maroons in the wars they had with the British and plantation owners, they faced black slave soldiers on the opposing side. So they were not naive enough to trust anyone. Also after the treaty, could they be wary of spies? ilfiltrators? etc seeking to join them as 'runaways' only to help defeat them? The british did not want the rebellion exported elsewhere on the island. The Maroons feared outsiders seeking to destroy them, so both benefitted? Was it a classic case of divide and rule?

Final point on the Maroons I would like to raise. I read that in Haiti, the other Island who successfully overthrew the slaveowners to become free and independ. they found in the 60s they had strong cultural similarities with the Congo /former Zaire. Does anyone know if any anthropological studies have found similar cultural ties between the Jamaican Maroons and African societies?
 

johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,872
Cornwall
When studying thier history of fleeing runaways who set up their own free communities in the hills with the indigenous Taino people before they died out. As part of their treaty with the British, they would be free and independent and dont have to pay taxes to the government. However they had to hand back any runaways who tried to join them. Why did they keep to that agreement? Some say they may have been tricked because the treaty was written in English and they were illerate? If that was the case they could have ignored it. They were used to put down the Paul Bogle rebellion in Morant Bay. Didnt they see the rebellion as people who did the same they did?

My thoughts on the matter, was that the Maroons in the wars they had with the British and plantation owners, they faced black slave soldiers on the opposing side. So they were not naive enough to trust anyone. Also after the treaty, could they be wary of spies? ilfiltrators? etc seeking to join them as 'runaways' only to help defeat them? The british did not want the rebellion exported elsewhere on the island. The Maroons feared outsiders seeking to destroy them, so both benefitted? Was it a classic case of divide and rule?
Not entirely sure what you are getting at to be honest. I suspect you are expecting everything to be black v white, whereas to me these things seem like classic treaties/business arrangements. Try and remove the racism/slave 20th century thinking and project yourself back in time.

Wiki says:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamaican_Maroons

When the British captured Jamaica in 1655, the Spanish colonists fled. Many of their slaves escaped and, together with free blacks and mulattoes, former slaves, and some native Taíno[2] coalesced into several heterogenous groups in the Jamaican interior.[3]

Some created palenques,, or stockaded mountain farms at Lluidas Vale in modern-day St Catharine Parish under Juan de Bolas (or Lubolo). Toward the western end of Cockpit Country were the ‘Varmahaly Negroes’ under the leadership of Juan de Serras; a third group was active in the region of Porus, in modern Manchester Parish; and there was possibly a fourth in the Blue Mountains.[3] During the first decade of British rule, these groups were active on behalf of the Spanish. But, as it became increasingly obvious that the British would hold their conquest, they changed their position.

Faced with discovery and defeat in 1659, Juan de Bolas allied with the British and guided their troops on a raid which resulted in the final expulsion of the Spanish in 1660. In exchange, in 1663, Governor Lyttleton signed the first maroon treaty, granting de Bolas and his people land on the same terms as British settlers.[4]

The other maroon groups remained independent in the mountainous interior of Jamaica, surviving by subsistence farming and periodic raids of plantations. These initial maroon groups dwindled, migrating or merging with settlers.[5] Others may have coalesced to form the nucleus of what would later be called the Windward Maroons.[6] Over time, runaway slaves increased the Maroon population, which eventually came to control large areas of the Jamaican mountainous interior.
 

notgivenaway

Ad Honorem
Jun 2015
5,787
UK
The British knew they couldn't defeat them, so they made treaties and the Maroons agreed. If they had indepedence, why risk it? VERY few slave rebellions every succeeded. Haiti is noted due to its scale and success, if anything else.

The Maroons were called by the British Coromantees, and were Akans from what is now Ghana.

Jamaican DNA today is very similar to Akan DNA today, and most Afro-Jamaican culture has Akan roots. Like slangs, patois and other stuff. Even names, since Akans give names per the day they were born, like Kwawo, Kofi, in Jamaica this is Kojo or Cuffy.
 

notgivenaway

Ad Honorem
Jun 2015
5,787
UK
i don't think they were tricked. they thought they had fought too hard to independence, so agreed, and the british largely left them alone.
 
Dec 2011
1,013
Hertfordshire
I'm doing my PhD on the Jamaican Maroons....

Juan de Serras was able to resist the English in the 17th century, because Jamaica was not a fully developed colony. However, in the 18th century, when the British offered peace terms in 1739 and 1740, both the Leeward Maroons and the Windward Maroons were severely stressed. The colonial authorities did not realise how much pressure they were under at the time, and could only see that they had difficulty defeating them.

Cudjoe and Nanny did not see themselves as leaders of a pan-African movement in Jamaica. They were primarily interested in protecting the Maroon communities they had established decades before. If that meant signing treaties with their white adversaries, then so be it.

One of the clauses of the treaties was that the Maroons had to hunt runaway slaves. The question is this: how successful were they? My thesis will argue that while they were successful in helping to suppress slave revolts, they were not successful in preventing the continued formation of runaway communities.
 
Jun 2015
256
London UK
Shivfan

Do you think they still let others join them and they didn't turn back all run aways?

Why did they 'loyally' serve the british or the 'white man' in putting down slave revolts?
I know in their culture they have folk songs about fighting the 'white man' who tried to enslave and oppress them. Was there a conflict, dilemma because they fought against andcwutg them helping to enslave and oppressive other blacks? Or the Maroons did not see themselves as 'black' or pan Africanists but as Maroons and viewed outsiders with distrust or not 'one of us'? Or did they fear possible infiltrators or spies?

Did this cause rifts with other Jamaicans and keeping them more isolated and separate from the rest and rarely mixed? Most Jamaicans who live be near the Maroons don't mix or know much about them. When Rastafari began I wondered why they didn't want to make the Maroon their 'zion' living with Africans who were free for centuries and not Ethiopia far away?

so within the Maroons after slavery was visiting other parts of the island or marrying outsiders not welcomed? If any chose to leave or marry outsiders would they be allowed back? Or was it Maroon only due to their history and traditions?
 
Dec 2011
1,013
Hertfordshire
Do you think they still let others join them and they didn't turn back all run aways?
No, I think the Maroons hunted runaway slaves, because they could make an income from the practice.

Why did they 'loyally' serve the british or the 'white man' in putting down slave revolts?

The Maroons considered themselves separate and apart from the black slaves. They emphasized their Taino origins in an attempt to distance themselves from the slaves. And they could earn an income in militia duty against slave revolts. Their main loyalty was to their Maroon town, not the black race.

Did this cause rifts with other Jamaicans and keeping them more isolated and separate from the rest and rarely mixed?

A lot of Jamaicans see the Maroons as "sellouts" and slave-catchers.

so within the Maroons after slavery was visiting other parts of the island or marrying outsiders not welcomed?

Maroons often married among themselves. However, they often had black non-Maroon wives and husbands too. Your Maroon status was inherited through your mother. Several Maroon women became the mistresses of white men.

If any chose to leave or marry outsiders would they be allowed back? Or was it Maroon only due to their history and traditions?

Often, the spouses of Maroons would take up residence in Maroon towns.
 
Jun 2015
256
London UK
The Maroons considered themselves separate and apart from the black slaves. They emphasized their Taino origins in an attempt to distance themselves from the slaves.
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I thought they stressed more if their African heritage, than any Taino heritage. So do they consider themselves the last remaining if the Taino who all died out? They inter married and learned secrets of living off the land and medicinal crops from the Taino.

On a related point the only island where the indigenous Taino are still alive is St Lucia (and perhaps Dominica). I understand they speak the native patois from the blacks. However I could not find much info on them in books, online or the UWI.

,Another thing they spoke and used a lot of African words and language Ghana in origin. However I learned the African country with closest cultural/ language connection with Maroons and Jamaica is Sierra Leone. A Ghanaian or a Nigerian may not understand the patois in the ghetto or rural areas but a Sierra Leonian could