Maroons In the Revolutionary Period

Yeah, that ending scene pertaining to Leonardo’s character in “D’Jango” was further from the truth. There were many slave rebellions and revolts; from the Gullah, Maroons, and Black Seminoles.

As early as the 1650s, enslaved Africans escaped into the American wilderness to form their own separate communities — a New World adaptation of an African form of resistance. These maroons (or outlyers, as they were often called in North America) set up small communities in swamps or other areas where they were not likely to be discovered. Although most focused on their own survival — building homes, raising crops and livestock, fortifying the community against attack — others engaged in guerilla warfare against neighboring plantations and provided a base to which other fugitives could flee.


Maroons: Rebel Slaves in the Americas
Richard Price

“The man who was to become the first African-American maroon arrived within a decade of Columbus’ landfall on the very first slave ship to reach the Americas. One of the last maroons to escape from slavery was still alive in Cuba only 15 years ago. The English word “maroon” (The authors have chosen to spell “maroon” in lower case when it is used to refer to individuals who escaped from slavery. It is capitalized only when used generically to refer to contemporary peoples or ethnic groups.) derives from Spanish cimarrón–itself based on an Arawakan (Taino) Indian root. Cimarrón originally referred to domestic cattle that had taken to the hills in Hispaniola, and soon after it was applied to American Indian slaves who had escaped from the Spaniards as well. By the end of the 1530s, the word had taken on strong connotations of being “fierce,” “wild” and “unbroken,” and was used primarily to refer to African-American runaways.”


Further Readings

Mintz, Sidney W., and Richard Price. The Birth of African-American Culture. Boston: Beacon, 1992.

Price, Richard. Maroon Societies: Rebel Slave Communities in the Americas. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979.

Alabi’s World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991.

First-Time: The Historical Vision of an Afro-American People. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983.

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  1. The Revolutionary War | Sincere Ignorance

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