The First Maroon War

0 Posted by - May 16, 2018 - Black History

The First Maroon War saw Britain attempt to take control of Jamaica—which it had just taken from Spain—in 1655. Prior to this, Spain brought Africans to the Caribbean for the purpose of slave labor. Those who managed to escape integrated with the native people. There were still others who escaped and went on to establish a number of Maroon colonies.

By 1665, the Black-to-White population in Jamaica tilted in favor of Black people. The Crown continued to combat the Maroons in hopes of taking the island but often failed in their efforts. The First Maroon War itself was actually a very long period—almost 75 years—marked by small battles between the two forces.

Also during this time, the British colonial government had to deal with slave revolts that popped up. A result of these slave revolts was that the Maroon population often grew as some would take the opportunity to escape. Since Jamaica had such a large population of Black people and more constantly being shipped in, there was little risk of running out of combatants.

Both of these kinds of conflicts threatened to undermine British power in the Caribbean and eventually run the super power out of Jamaica if something wasn’t done. More troops were sent to Jamaica but Britain never had the land advantage and constantly sending troops when the Crown had other conflicts around the world was an issue.

Around 1739, Britain finally struck up an agreement to end the First Maroon War. They were given several towns to live without British intervention. As a tradeoff, Britain wanted the Maroons to not give safe quarter to escapees and to help capture them. They also wanted the Maroons to assist in protecting Jamaica from outside threats.

An issue here was that the British dealt with Cudjoe, leader of the Leeward Maroons. It was believed that the Maroons were something like one nation as opposed to separate tribes working in tandem. Cudjoe wanted peace instead of more decades of fighting the British and pressured other Maroon groups to get in line. This peace with the British would last for close to 50 years.


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