the jamaican maroons escaped slaves who fought the british rulers in jamaica
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The Jamaican Maroons Escaped slaves who fought the British rulers in Jamaica

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The Jamaican Maroons Escaped slaves who fought the British rulers in Jamaica. Jamaica is one of largest Caribbean Islands. When Christopher Columbus arrived at the island in 1494, he claimed the land for Spain. In 1655 , the British captured Jamaica from the Spanish.

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In 1655, the British captured Jamaica from the Spanish.
  • When the British captured Jamaica from the Spanish, the Spanish ran away from the island after freeing their slaves and turning their cattle loose.
  • The Spanish did not want the British to be able to set up farming on the island easily.
  • Once they were freed, the slaves became a fighting force and adopted the name Maroons.
  • They escaped into the mountains & jungles.
The word “Maroon” comes from the word “cimarrone” which means runaway slave or savage in Spanish.
The British also brought a lot of slaves to Jamaica via the Atlantic Slave Trade

It became the most important slaving colony of the British Caribbean and was known as "the jewels in the English crown.“

Within 100 years, virtually the whole island had been divided up into large plantations. (Mostly sugar plantations)

Slaves began to escape from their plantations because they refused to accept their colonial slave masters
  • They joined the Maroons in the wilderness of Jamaica
The Jamaican Maroons began a very successful guerilla warfare by striking quickly at night, then disappearing.
  • At the same time, they established an early-warning system - using an abeng (horn) to warn their villages of attack by the red-coats (British).
They were successful, in retaining their independence by constantly defending their freedom.
  • Their settlements were small (not more than 2,000 strong) but they fought as if they were in greater numbers.
For the next 76 years the Maroons and the British fought with each other.
  • The Maroons knew the forests well and used leaves to disguise themselves.
  • Their successful attacks gave rise to a saying `Land of Look Behind\' - because the British had to always look behind them for a sudden ambush. 
  • The British lost many people to the sharp shooting Maroons.
Many of their hit-and-run attacks became often-told epics
  • The most famous tale was about Nanny, a warrior queen
Nanny, who fought the British at the beginning of the 1700s, is often described as an almost supernatural Ashante warrior Queen who could catch musket balls and fire them back
  • She wasthe spiritual, cultural and military leaderof the Windward Maroons who had a stronghold in the Blue Mountains, known as Nanny Town.
  • She was also known as the ‘Mountain Queen’
She was an excellent leader, who was

able to keep the British out of the Blue Mountains by using guerilla warfare.

  • It took the British 6 years to locate

Nanny Town

  • When they tried to attack the town, Nanny and her followers dumped boiling water on the troops.
  • Eventually, the British destroyed the town, killing Nanny, by using canon fire.
  • She is still considered a national hero today!
In 1729, the British began what was to become known as the `First Maroon War\'.
  • Cudjo or Kojo, emerged as leader of the Maroons.
In 1739, a treaty was signed with the Maroons.
  • Under its terms, they were to remain in their five main towns, living under their own chief and a British supervisor.
  • In exchange, they were asked to agree not to take in new runaway slaves, but rather to help catch them.
In 1795, Trelawney Town Maroons declared war for a second time against the British.
  • They felt that they were being badly treated under the terms of the treaty.
  • They felt that the land allotted to them for farming was rocky and inadequate
  • This time the British were more successful. Using dogs, they flushed the Maroons from their hiding places, forcing peace. 
In order to teach them a lesson, almost 600 maroons were put on 3 prison ships and were sent away from Jamaica in 1796.

The Mary The Ann The Dover

The British thought about sending them to Upper Canada, but eventually decided on Nova Scotia.

They were held in Halifax Harbour until they were released to work in Citadel Fort in Halifax.
  • One of the walls in the fort is named Maroon Wall.
Accommodations were first made in the center of Halifax, but were later located to land in Preston, which was left vacant by the Black Loyalists. Maroon Hall was built for them here.
  • Eventually, they were split into 2 communities: Preston and the other a farming community of Boydville located in the area known as Maroon Hill (now Middle Sackville)
In 1798, the Maroons became dissatisfied with life in Nova Scotia.
  • They attempted to farm. However, like the previous occupants of the poor, rocky land at Preston, they had little success.
  • They found farming in Nova Scotia difficult, especially as the climate prevented the growing of familiar food crops such as pineapples, bananas, yams, and cocoa.
Lieutenant Governor Sir John Wentworth attempted to change the Maroons’ culture by introducing them to Christianity.

However, the Maroons were not interested in changing their traditions and customs regarding marriage, funerals and religious beliefs.

  • They also found it difficult to get jobs because they refused to work for less wages than a white person would receive. This caused financial disputes with the government.
  • They also did not enjoy the climate and were isolated.
They requested permission to leave and the Sierra Leone Company came in 1800 to take them to Sierra Leone.