Early American History Seminar: James Robertson, University of the West Indies at Mona

Early American History and Culture Seminar
Thursday, May 21, 2009

5:30 pm to 7:00 pm

“Fighting Jamaica’s First Maroon War: Soldiers’ Journals and the Nature of Colonial Campaigning”
James Robertson, University of the West Indies at Mona
A re-examination of Jamaica’s First Maroon War, 1728-1738/9, prompted by finding a description of a British defeat in 1731 in an English provincial records office, and then extended as part of a broader project on the transformation of Jamaica during the first century of English rule from 1655 - c. 1770, identified a number of journals kept by the commanders of patrols sent out against the “rebel Negroes”. These offer immediate reports from a prolonged guerrilla war. Reconsidering how the war was fought allows a broader reconsideration of its place in island politics and Jamaica’s wider development. Such re-evaluations prompt comparisons with earlier frontier campaigning that Governor Robert Hunter had overseen as Governor of New York, besides offering a context for the Jamaican colonists’ parallel political campaign during the 1730s targeting the North American colonies for the enforcement of the Sugar Duties.