The chief island domain of English slavery was Jamaica. It was Oliver Cromwell who, in his zeal for God and the slave trade, sent an expedition to seize Hayti. His fleet, driven off there, took Jamaica in 1655. The English found the mountains already infested with runaway slaves known as “Maroons,” and more Negroes joined them when the English arrived. In 1663 the freedom of the Maroons was acknowledged, land was given them, and their leader, Juan de Bolas, was made a colonel in the militia. He was killed, however, in the following year, and from 1664 to 1738 the three thousand or more black Maroons fought the British Empire in guerrilla warfare. Soldiers, Indians, and dogs were sent against them, and finally in 1738 Captain Cudjo and other chiefs made a formal treaty of peace with Governor Trelawney. They were granted twenty-five hundred acres and their freedom was recognized.
The peace lasted until 1795, when they rebelled again and gave the British a severe drubbing, besides murdering planters. Bloodhounds again were imported. The Maroons offered to surrender on the express condition that none of their number should be deported from the island, as the legislature wished. General Walpole hesitated, but could get peace on no other terms and gave his word. The Maroons surrendered their arms, and immediately the whites seized six hundred of the ringleaders and transported them to the snows of Nova Scotia! The legislature then voted a sword worth twenty-five hundred dollars to General Walpole, which he indignantly refused to accept. Eventually these exiled Maroons found their way to Sierra Leone, West Africa, in time to save that colony to the British crown.
The pressing desire for peace with the Maroons on the part of the white planters arose from the new sugar culture introduced in 1673. A greatly increased demand for slaves followed, and between 1700 and 1786 six hundred and ten thousand slaves were imported; nevertheless, so severely were they driven, that there were only three hundred thousand Negroes in Jamaica in the latter year.
Despite the Moravian missions and other efforts late in the eighteenth century, unrest among the Jamaica slaves and freedmen grew and was increased by the anti-slavery agitation in England and the revolt in Hayti. There was an insurrection in 1796; and in 1831 again the Negroes of northwest Jamaica, impatient because of the slow progress of the emancipation, arose in revolt and destroyed nearly three and a half million dollars’ worth of property, well-nigh ruining the planters there. The next year two hundred and fifty-five thousand slaves were set free, for which the planters were paid nearly thirty million dollars. There ensued a discouraging condition of industry. The white officials sent out in these days were arbitrary and corrupt. Little was done for the mass of the people and there was outrageous over-taxation. Nevertheless the backwardness of the colony was attributed to the Negro. Governor