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Maroons

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 9 months ago

 

Maroons_of_Jamaica.ppt 

 

The Jamaican Maroons were runaway slaves who fought the British during the 18th century. Some of the Maroons were deported to Nova Scotia and from there some were taken to Freetown, Sierra Leone.

 

When the British invaded Jamaica in 1655 the Spanish colonists fled leaving a large number of Africans who they had enslaved. Rather than be re-enslaved by the British, they escaped into the mountainous regions of the island, joining those who had previously escaped from the Spanish.

 

The two main Maroon groups were the Leeward and the Windward tribes. Over time, they came to control large areas of the Jamaican interior and they often moved down from the hills to raid the plantations. This resulted in the First Maroon War in which the Maroons inhabited "cockpits," caves, or deep ravines that were easily defended, even against troops with superior firepower. Such guerrilla warfare and the use of scouts who blew the abeng (a conch shell) to warn of approaching British soldiers allowed the Maroons to defeat the forces of an Empire.

 

Knowing they couldn’t win, between 1739 and 40 the British government in Jamaica came to an agreement with the Maroons, who were to remain in their five main towns living under their own chief with a British supervisor. In exchange, they agreed not to harbor new runaway slaves, but rather to help catch them. They were paid a bounty of two dollars for each returned slave. This last clause in the treaty naturally caused tension between the Maroons and the enslaved black population, although from time to time runaways from the plantations still found their way into Maroon settlements.

 

However, tensions between planters and Maroons remained and a Second Maroon War broke out in 1795. The Accompong Maroons remained neutral and the British left them alone. By the end of the war, all the other Maroon settlements in Jamaica had been destroyed, and Accompong alone remained. The Trselawny Town Maroons were resettled in Nova Scotia for a few harsh winters, and the survivors were sent back to Africa to live in Sierra Leone.

 

In 1796 about 600 Jamaican Maroons were deported from Jamaica to Nova Scotia because of their rebellion against the colonial government. The second immigration of free blacks into the province of Nova Scotia was similar to the first in that it developed from events entirely divorced from Nova Scotia history. From the time of British conquest in 1655, the Maroons in Jamaica waged war against the British colonizers of the island. The Jamaican government succeeded in overcoming the Maroons in 1796 after 140 years of intermittent warfare. The Legislature, tired of the cost of maintaining order had immediate actions put in place for the removal of one group of Maroons, with their settlements in Quebec. Ontario had also been suggested as a suitable place; however, it was eventually decided for them to be sent to Halifax, Nova Scotia, until any further instructions were received from England. Two gentlemen were sent from Jamaica with the Maroons as commissioners.

 

The most famous among Maroon rebels was Queen Nanny, also known as Granny Nanny, leader of the Jamaican Maroons in the 18th century. She is the only female listed among Jamaican national heroes, and has been immortalized in songs and legends. She was known for her exceptional leadership skills, especially in guerrilla warfare, which were particularly important in the First Maroon War in the early 1700s. Her remains are reputedly buried at "Nanny Bump" in Moore Town, the main town of the Windward Maroons who are concentrated in and around the Rio Grande valley in the eastern parish of Portland. Her image was put onto the Jamaican $500 bill in 1976.

 

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