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Database: Maroons

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Maroons were people from the West Indies, Central America, South America, and North America, that escaped slavery and found, formed and settled communities away from their oppressors, although the African slaves were not the first to be treated so badly. The Taino tribes that first inhabited Saint-Domingue were abused and bullied into submission by the Spanish. Refusing to work for them, the Taino people were the first to settle in the mountains, and later made room for fugitive slaves.

Most of the slaves of Saint-Domingue fled to the mountains to hide from their oppressors and start new lives, often based on subsistence agriculture, and survival hunting. Some became warriors and fought for independence, and the freedom of other slaves. Maroons were known to raze crops, attempt to scare off plantation owners and overseers, loot, and conduct violent raids on nearby sugar and coffee plantations. But although these bands of Maroon warriors grew in size, they, more often than not, lacked the leadership to carry through a large-scale objective.

Not surprisingly, the Code Noir still sided with masters. They were given a great deal of liberty in their retaliation methods: plantation slaves were killed in an attempt to keep the Maroons at bay, many of the attackers were slaughtered, and the death penalty was given out as a common form of punishment.

Maroons in Saint-Domingue were ultimately responsible for one of the few successful slave uprisings in history, and the only one to result in the founding of a free state–the Republic of Haiti– after a century of effort and more than one attempt.

Note: Maroons are not to be confused with other black populations in Saint-Domingue at the time: Freedmen–slaves who were freed legally through emancipation or manumission, and Gens de Couleur (people of color) who were born free, or freed at birth.
- DM

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