Jamaican Slavery: Maroons and Free Slaves

Figure 1.--The print was entitled, "The Maroons in Ambush on the Dromilly Estate in the parish of Trelawney, Jamaica". The painting was doine be by J. Bourgoin and engraved by J. Merigot. It was published by J. Cribb (London, 1801). The dedication reads: "To the Honble Genl. Walpole, this plate is with permission respectfully dedicated by his obliged and obedient servant, Robt. Cribb." We see a group of about 30 Maroons hiding in the trees as a troop of British soldiers wjhioch seem to be wearing blue approaches. The maroons carry rifles and one (center) blows a horn. It seems to be an illustration of a Maroon ambush of a British military unit. It may be a depiction of the incident in July 1795, which set off the Second Maroon War. Ambush was the Maroon's most common military tactic. During this 5-month war. George Walpole was the commanding field officer of the British military forces.

British planters were harassed by the Maroons, armed bands of escaped slaves attacking isolated plantations. The Maroons established communities in the mountainous interior. The rough teraine here was not suitable for plantation agriculture and thus not developed by the British. The British launced two major efforts to subsue the Maroons (1730s and 90s). These efforts are known as the Maroon Wars. Jamaican slaves carried out more than ten major conspiracies and uprisings during the 18th century as more and more slaves were brought to the colony. The most serious was Tackey's Revolt (1760). The British suceeded in deporting one Maroon community to Sierra Leopne during the Second Maroon War (1790s). The British colonial government also attemted to buy off the Maroons by paying them to return escaped slaves. The white population was so small that the Government also attempted to use freed slaves to control the Island's slaves. One estimate reported about 10,000 feeed slaves (1800). The fact that the population of Jamaica became so heavily slave made the colony especially vulnerable to slave revolts. The existence of the Maroon holdouts in the interior also aided these revolts


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Created: 11:25 PM 4/11/2010
Last updated: 11:25 PM 4/11/2010