Author Topic: Jamaica  (Read 96 times)


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« on: March 17, 2021, 11:59:37 pm »
OLD CONTENTíno#Spaniards_and_Taíno

Columbus and his crew were the first Europeans to encounter the Taíno people, as they landed in The Bahamas on October 12, 1492. After their first interaction, Columbus described the Taínos as a physically tall, well-proportioned people, with a noble and kind personality.

In his diary, Columbus wrote:

They traded with us and gave us everything they had, with good will ... they took great delight in pleasing us ... They are very gentle and without knowledge of what is evil; nor do they murder or steal...Your highness may believe that in all the world there can be no better people ... They love their neighbours as themselves, and they have the sweetest talk in the world, and are gentle and always laughing.[32]

At this time, the neighbors of the Taíno were the Guanahatabeys in the western tip of Cuba, the Island-Caribs in the Lesser Antilles from Guadeloupe to Grenada, and the Calusa and Ais nations of Florida. Guanahaní was the Taíno name for the island that Columbus renamed as San Salvador (Spanish for "Holy Savior"). Columbus called the Taíno "Indians", a reference that has grown to encompass all the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere. A group of Taíno people accompanied Columbus on his return voyage to Spain.[33]

On Columbus' second voyage to their culture, he began to require tribute from the Taíno in Hispaniola. According to Kirkpatrick Sale, each adult over 14 years of age was expected to deliver a hawks bell full of gold every three months, or when this was lacking, twenty-five pounds of spun cotton. If this tribute was not brought, the Spanish cut off the hands of the Taíno and left them to bleed to death.[34] These cruel practices inspired many revolts by the Taíno and campaigns against the Spanish — some being successful, some not.
Dr. Chanca, a physician who traveled with Christopher Columbus, reported in a letter that Spaniards took as many women as they possibly could and kept them as concubines.[42] Some sources report that, despite women being free and powerful before the contact era, they became the first commodities up for Spaniards to trade, or often, steal. This marked the beginning of a lifetime of kidnapping and abuse of Taíno women.[43]

The Spanish Empire began its official governance of Jamaica in 1509, with formal occupation of the island by conquistador Juan de Esquivel and his men. Esquivel had accompanied Columbus in his second trip to the Americas in 1493 and participated in the invasion of Hispaniola. A decade later, Friar Bartolomé de las Casas wrote Spanish authorities about Esquivel's conduct during the Higüey massacre of 1503.

The first Spanish settlement was founded in 1509 near St Ann's Bay and named Seville. In 1534 the settlers moved to a new, healthier site, which they named Villa de la Vega, which the English renamed Spanish Town when they conquered the island in 1655. This settlement served as the capital of both Spanish and English Jamaica from its foundation in 1534 until 1872, after which the capital was moved to Kingston.

The Spaniards enslaved many of the native people, overworking and harming them to the point that many had perished within fifty years of European arrival. Subsequently, the lack of indigenous opportunity for labor was mended with the arrival of African slaves.[5] Disappointed in the lack of gold on the isle, the Spanish mainly used Jamaica as a military base to supply colonizing efforts in the mainland Americas.[6]

The Spanish colonists did not bring women in the first expeditions and took Taíno women for their common-law wives, resulting in mestizo children.[7] Sexual violence with the Taíno women by the Spanish was also common.[8][9]

The Jamaican Maroons descend from maroons, Africans who escaped from slavery on the island of Jamaica and established free communities in the mountainous interior, primarily in the eastern parishes. African slaves imported during Spanish rule of Jamaica (1494-1655) likely[original research?] were the first to develop such refugee communities.

The English, who conquered the island in 1655, expanded the importation of slaves to support their extensive development of sugar-cane plantations.
Many of their slaves escaped and, together with free blacks and mulattoes, former slaves, and some native Taíno[2][3][4] coalesced into several heterogeneous groups in the Jamaican interior.[5]
surviving by subsistence farming and periodic raids of plantations. These initial maroon groups dwindled, migrating or merging with settlers.[10] Others may have coalesced to form the nucleus of what would later be called the Windward Maroons.[11] Over time, runaway slaves increased the maroon population, which eventually came to control large areas of the Jamaican mountainous interior.[12]
Between 1673 and 1690 there were several major slave uprisings, mainly prompted by newly arrived, highly militarized Fante or Coromantee groups from Cape Coast and Ashanti Empire.[13] On 31 July 1690, a rebellion involving 500 slaves from the Sutton estate in Clarendon Parish led to the formation of Jamaica’s most stable and best organized Maroon group. Although some were killed, recaptured or surrendered, more than 200, including women and children, remained free after the rebellion was considered over.[13]

They established an Ashanti-style polity based in the eastern parts of the Cockpit Country, notably Cudjoe's Town (Trelawny Town); the most famous ruler of the western Maroons was Cudjoe. They incorporated outsiders only after newcomers had satisfied a strict probationary period.[14] The leader of the eastern Maroons when they agreed to peace was Quao.[15]

The Windward Maroons, in the wilder parts of eastern Jamaica, were always composed of separate highly mobile and culturally heterogeneous groups.[16] It is possible that the runaway slaves from de Serras' group of Karmahaly Maroons formed the initial nucleus of the Windward Maroons.[17] From early on, the Jamaican governors considered their settlements an impediment to British development of the interior. They ordered raids on the Maroon settlements in 1686 and 1702, to little effect.[18]

By about 1720, a stronger Windward community had developed around the culturally Africanised group of three villages known as Nanny Town, under the spiritual leadership of Queen Nanny, an Ashanti woman, sometimes in allegiance and sometimes in competition with other Windward groups.[19] She was known for her exceptional leadership skills, especially in guerrilla warfare during the First Maroon War.
The treaties following the First Maroon War had called for the assignment of a white ‘superintendent’ in each maroon community. Trelawny Town had objected to the official recently assigned to them and eventually expelled him.[38] At this, the new, hardline Governor, Balcarres, sent William Fitch to march on Trelawny Town with a military force to demand their immediate submission. Balcarres ignored the advice of local planters, who suggested giving the Maroons some more land in order to avoid conflict. The governor refused to heed the advice, and instead provoked a conflict that could have been avoided by demanding their unconditional surrender.[39] The Trelawny Maroons, led by their colonel, Montague James, chose to fight and were initially successful, fighting a guerrilla war in small bands under several captains, of whom the most noted were Johnson, Parkinson and Palmer.[40] The casualties suffered by Fitch and his men were significantly higher than those felt by the Maroons of Trelawny Town.[41] When the Trelawny Town Maroons killed Fitch, several of his officers, some Accompong Maroon trackers, and many militia soldiers in an ambush, Balcarres appointed a new general, George Walpole.[42] This new general suffered more setbacks, until he eventually opted to besiege the Cockpit Country on a massive scale, surrounding it with watchposts, firing in shells from a long distance, and intending to destroy or cut off all maroon provision grounds.[43] Meanwhile, maroon attempts to recruit plantation slaves met with a mixed response,[44] and other maroon communities maintained neutrality. Accompong Town, however, fought on the side of the colonial militias against Trelawny Town.[45]

Despite signs that the siege was working, Balcarres grew impatient and sent to Cuba for a hundred hunting dogs and handlers. The reputation of these was so fearsome that their arrival quickly prompted the surrender of the majority of Trelawny forces.[46] The Maroons, however, only put down their arms on condition that they would not be deported, and Walpole gave his word that would be the case.[41] To Walpole's dismay, Balcarres refused to treat with the defeated maroons and had them deported from Jamaica

On 7 October 1865, a black man was put on trial, convicted and imprisoned for trespassing on a long-abandoned sugar plantation, a charge and sentence that angered black Jamaicans. During the proceedings, James Geoghegon, a black spectator, disrupted the trial in Morant Bay. In the police's attempts to seize him and remove him from the courthouse, a fight broke out between the police and other spectators. While pursuing Geoghegon, the two policemen were beaten with sticks and stones from the crowd.[3] The following Monday the court issued arrest warrants for several men for rioting, resisting arrest, and assaulting the police. Among those with warrants out was preacher Paul Bogle.

A few days later on 11 October, Bogle marched with hundreds of Jamaican peasant-labourers to Morant Bay. They had taken oaths before marching, to "cleave to the black and leave the white," a sign that they were preparing for insurrection. Gad Heuman argues shows that oath taking in African tradition was a way to bring the group together and prepare for war.[1] When the group arrived at the court house in Morant Bay, they were met by local officials and a small and inexperienced volunteer militia, gathered from personnel from the plantations. The crowd began pelting the militia with rocks and sticks, and the militia opened fire on the protesters. More than 25 people were killed on both sides, before the militia retreated. For the next two days, the mass of rebellious black peasants took over the parish of St. Thomas-in-the-East.[1]

In response, Governor John Eyre sent government troops, under Brigadier-General Alexander Nelson,[4] to hunt down the poorly armed rebels and bring Bogle back to Morant Bay for trial. The troops met with no organized resistance, but they killed blacks indiscriminately, most of whom had not been involved in either the riot at the courthouse or the later rebellion. Heuman has described it as a reign of terror.[1]

According to one soldier, "we slaughtered all before us… man or woman or child". In the end, the soldiers killed 439 black Jamaicans directly, and they arrested 354 more (including Paul Bogle), who were later executed, many without proper trials. Bogle was executed "either the same evening he was tried or the next morning."[5] Other punishments included flogging of more than 600 men and women (including some pregnant women), and long prison sentences. The soldiers burned thousands of homes belonging to black Jamaicans without any justifiable reason, leaving families homeless throughout the parish. This was the most severe suppression of unrest in the history of the British West Indies, exceeding incidents during slavery years.[1]

Believing that the blacks could not have planned such events themselves (as he shared the widespread white assumption of the time that they were not capable of it),[1] Governor John Eyre had representative George William Gordon arrested. The mixed-race Jamaican businessman and politician was wealthy and well-known; he was openly critical of the governor and his policies. Eyre believed that Gordon had been behind the rebellion. Despite having very little to do with it, Gordon was quickly convicted and executed. Though he was arrested in Kingston, where martial law had not been declared, Eyre had him transferred to Morant Bay, where he could be tried under martial law.


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