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During the 18th century, the powerful Maroons, escaped ex-slaves who settled in

the mountains of Jamaica, carved out a significant area of influence. Through th

e use of slave labor, the production of sugar in this British colony flourished.
But the courageous resistance of the Maroons threatened this prosperous industr
y. These efforts included plantation raids, the killing of white militiamen, and
the freeing of slaves. The threat to the system was clear and present; hence, t
he planters were willing to sign a treaty with the Maroons in 1738. The treaty o
ffers good insight to the relationship between the planters and the Maroons at t
he time, and deserves further attention.
On March 1, 1738, the articles of pacification with the Maroons of Trelawny Town
signaled to Jamaica that a new era was emerging. The English planters had feare
d the rising power of the Maroons, and therefore tried to subdue them. This prov
ed to be unsuccessful, consequently causing the English to realize that making p
eace with the Maroons was the only possible solution. This treaty was the first
of its kind and it demonstrated that a group of rebellious ex-slaves had forced
a powerful class of planters to come to terms. This was an unlikely event during
the eighteenth century, given the dominance of the planter class across the Car
ibbean. Yet the fact remains that the treaty did not solely serve the planters in
terest. For example, article three of the treaty states that the Maroons were gi
ven 1500 acres of crown land, a necessity for the Maroons to maintain their inde
pendent way of life. In addition, it made a boundary between the Maroons and the
planters, which was to avoid future conflicts.
Another example of an unbiased stipulation is article eight of the treaty, which
states: "that if any white man shall do any manner of injury to Captain Cudjoe,
his successors, or any of his or their people, shall apply to any commanding of
ficer or magistrate in the neighborhood for justice." This showed some equity un
der the law between the Maroons and the planters. Furthermore, the fifth article
of the treaty specifies "that Captain Cudjoe, and all the Captain s adherents, an
d people now in subjection to him, shall all live together within the bounds of
Trelawny Town, and that they have liberty to hunt where they shall think fit, ex
cept within three miles of any settlement, crawl, or pen; provided always, that
in case the hunters of Captain Cudjoe and those of other settlements meet, then
the hogs to be equally divided between both parties." In other words, the Englis
h planters were willing to divide the game equally amongst themselves and the Ma
roons, but more importantly, they were giving the latter the liberty to hunt fre
Although the articles of pacification granted the Maroons of Jamaica many privil
eges, it also attempted to limit their attacks against the system of slavery in
general. There were hints of favoritism towards the planters, for example, artic
le thirteen required that the Maroons continue to help clear roads from Trelawny
Town to Westmoreland and if possible from St. James to St. Elizabeth. This was
biased because, as free men, the Maroons were not entitled to labor for the plan
ters. This showed that the planters viewed the Maroons to be inferior to them. A
nother bias in the treaty includes article eleven which states that "Captain Cud
joe, and his successors, shall wait on his Excellency, or the Commander in Chief
for the time being, every year, if thereunto required." This article reveals an
attempt to keep the Maroons subordinate and under control. In addition to artic
le eleven, another article that reveals a biased attitude is article fourteen, w
hich affirms that two white men shall live with the Maroons "in order to maintai
n a friendly correspondence with the inhabitants of this island." Even though th
is treaty was to encourage a friendly relationship between the two parties, it a
lso gave white planters first-hand knowledge of the situation in the Maroon camp
. Most important of all, the treaty also required the Maroons to act as a sort o
f police force for the planters, returning future runaways to the plantations, a
nd drafting them to fight against future rebellions.
This treaty contained elements of fairness and favoritism that were evident thro
ugh its articles. Some of these were beneficial to the Maroons, while others wer
e not; however, the signing of the treaty indicated that the Maroons constituted
a substantial threat to the planters. This treaty was not only ground breaking
in that it recognized the Maroons and their needs, but also revealed that the En
glish planters were fearful of the Maroons capabilities and ever-rising power.