Maroons, fugitive slaves in the European colonies in the West Indies and in Guiana, who banded together in the forests and mountains and for a long time maintained their freedom. The origin of the word is uncertain, it being derived, according to one etymology, from the Spanish marrano, "wild hog," these fugitives subsisting at first chiefly by hunting that animal; according to another, from simaran or cimar-ron, which signifies both an ape and a wild man; and by still a third derivation, from Maroni, a river Which separates French from Dutch Guiana, where large numbers of them resided. They are especially celebrated in the history of Jamaica. On the conquest of that island from the Spaniards by the English in 1055, most of the Spanish slaves, about 1,500 in number, fled to the mountains, whence they kept up a guerilla warfare against the whites. Their ranks were continually recruited by runaways; and they became so troublesome that in 1663 the governor. Sir Charles Lyttleton, issued a proclamation offering pardon, freedom, and 20 acres of land to such as should surrender; but it does not appear that any of them accepted the terms offered. The colonial assembly in the course of 40 years passed 44 acts against them, and expended £240,000 in vain efforts for their subjugation.
In 1730 they had become so formidable, under a very able general named Cudjoe, that all the militia of the colony and two regiments of regular troops were sent against them. But after seven years' war they were still unsubdued, and in 1737 the colonial assembly imported Indians and bloodhounds from Spanish America to aid in their suppression. Even these failed, however, and at length Gen. Trelawny, the British governor, made overtures of peace to the black chiefs; and on March 1, 1738, the Maroons agreed to a treaty which provided: '-First, that all hostilities shall cease on both sides for ever; secondly, that the said Captain Cudjoe, the rest of his captains, adherents, and men, shall be for ever hereafter in a perfect state of freedom and liberty; thirdly, that they shall enjoy and pos-sess, for themselves and posterity for ever, all the land situated and lying between Trelawny-town and the Cockpits, to the amount of 1,500 aeres." Besides the arable land thus given them for cultivation, the Maroons had for their hunting grounds the whole mountainous interior of the island. Their game was the wild boar, which abounds in the mountains.
They had a method of curing the flesh without salt-ing it. and they sold large quantities of it to, the whites, and by this traffic kept themselves well supplied with firearms and ammunition. There were no further hostilities until July 1795, when a portion of them known as the Trelawnytown Maroons rose in insurrection in consequence of two of their young men baving been publicly whipped by" the authorities for stealing The island was put under martial law, although the government bad a force of 1,500 regular troops and several thousand militia After numerous unsuccessful attempts to subdue them, Gen. Walpole by great efforts brought them to be willing to listen to overtures of peace, and suppressed the rebellion in March, 1790. About 000 of them surrendered on assurances of liberty and good treatment, but were perfidiously placed in confinement, and in June following shipped to Nova Scotia, whence in 1800 they were transported to Sierra Leone. Those who remained in Jamaica maintained their independence; but since the abolition of slavery in the island they have to a great extent intermingled with the mass of the colored population.
In 1835 it was officially reported that in four of their settlements in Jamaica there were 270 families, or about 1,500 persons. (See Jamaica.) - In the Dutch colony of Surinam, in South America, a band of Maroons was formed at a very early period of the colony in the forests of the interior, but they did not become formidable till about 1720, when they had acquired by pillage lances and firearms. They settled on the upper part of the river Saramaca, and were consequently soon known as Saramaca negroes. Several detachments of soldiers and militia having been sent against them without much success, the authorities in 1730 undertook to terrify them into submission by executing eleven of them who had been taken prisoners. One man was hanged alive by an iron hook stuck through his ribs, two others were burned alive, six women were broken upon the wheel, and two girls were beheaded. These cruelties, however, only enraged the Maroons, and their incursions became so troublesome to the colonists that the government at length resorted to negotiation, and a treaty of peace was formally concluded in 1749, between the governor of Surinam and the Maroon chief, Captain Adoe. From some misunderstanding between the parties, this truce was not of long continuance, and fresh revolts broke out among the slaves on the Ouca river, so that in a few years the colony was reduced to the greatest distress by their incursions; and in 1757, after being defeated by the negroes in several encounters, the Dutch again sued for peace.
After a long negotiation and four different embassies from the Europeans, a treaty was concluded in 1701, by which the Ouca and Saramaca Maroons were admitted to be free and independent, and the colony agreed to pay them an annual allowance to secure their friendship. After some years a revolt occurred among the negroes on the Cotica river, which gained such force in 1772 that the colonists were forced to abandon their plantations and take refuge in Paramaribo until assistance arrived from Holland. A force of 1,200 Dutch troops, assisted by several hundred negroes liberated and armed for the purpose, at length drove the Maroons back to the woods. With additional troops from Holland a systematic attempt was now made to subdue the Maroons, but without success; and at the end of a Avar which lasted several years the colonial government withdrew from the contest. The Maroons at that time were about 15,000 in number. In 1831 they had increased to 70,000, and at present they are still more numerous. They form an independent republic, with laws and customs of their own.
Christianity has made little progress among them, and their language is a jargon of African and European tongues intermingled. - For an account of the Maroons of Jamaica, see Bryan Edwards, "History of the West Indies," and Dallas, " History of the Maroons;" and for the Maroons of Surinam, see Stedman's " Surinam".