By the late 1730s, the Jamaicans had grown weary of battling with the Maroons. The shortage of white militia and British regulars, along with the Maroons’ proficiency in guerrilla warfare and their knowledge of the terrain, led to high white casualties and heavy expenses. In the treaties of 1738-39, the Jamaicans granted autonomy to the Maroons. In return, the Maroons agreed to live in isolated reservations and serve as slave catchers for the whites. They would preserve white freedom and black slavery. But in July 1795, the turmoil by the Trelawney Town Maroons in the northern mountains caught the colony by surprise. The St. Domingue rebellion, just a day’s sail from Jamaica, created paranoia. The Jamaican elite did not worry unduly about a few hundred Maroons in the distant northwest village of Trelawney Town, far from the urban centers of Spanish Town and Kingston. Rather, the fear loomed that the uprising would “corrupt” the slaves who comprised 90 percent of the population. This chapter describes the exigencies that led the island to instigate war against the Maroons.
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