It was one of the most defining moments in Jamaican history, the likes of which had never taken place before. With the signing of the Articles of Pacification, on March 1, 1738, after prolonged relentless 80 year insurrection, a group of former slaves, were able to force former subjugators to not only have to bend to the idea of having to negotiate with ex-slaves, but walk away from those negotiations with not only a mutually beneficial agreement, but a recognizable and binding “Treaty”.
By the 1700’s, Jamaica had been firmly established slave labor powered, plantation based, economic strong hold for the British. The bounty of crops able to be grown in Jamaica’s ideally fertile, lush, tropical setting produce a need for labor so great that by 1720, slaves, brought to the island at a record setting pace, out numbed their ‘masters’ by a ratio of 14 to 1.
For decades, the unyielding, fearless Maroons refused to succumb to the sustained attempts by the British to enslave them. Since released by the Spaniards to distract the attacking 8000 member British Expeditionary forces while the Spanish escaped to Cuba in 1655, the Maroons launched an eight decade long resistance to colonization and with unparalleled tactical precision, launched military style raids on plantations that over the years, took an untold number of lives and was reported to have cost the British government 250,000 lbs and astronomical amount for the time.
Forced to contend with a sustained Resistance with which they never previously to confronted, the British signed the historic Articles of Pacification with the Maroons. It was an unprecedented agreement in that it was negotiated that the Maroons would receive among other entitlements, 1500 acres of crown land so that they could lead an independent way of life, and allowed a Maroon the right to appeal to the local magistrate for justice should their be any harm to leaders of the Maroons or their constituents; thereby placing the Maroons on the same legal playing field as the white plantation owners.
The most important result of the treaty was that it provided a tangible reassurance to group of people who had had no previous experience on which to rest their hopes, the that unrelenting perseverance, freedom from literal human bondage can be achieve no matter how insurmountable the obstacle.
The picture above is reported to depict the “signing” of the famous Treaty was under a cotton tree that has come to be known as the Kinda Tree in Jamaica. Treaty was said to be ratified by a mere exchange of hats between Maroon and British leaders. It is also said the actual Treaty itself is said to be in the safe keeping in a secret location by a trusted elder of the Maroons somewhere in Accompong, Trelawny, Jamaica.
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