Resistance to Slavery
With African slave labour the sugar industry grew so rapidly that the 57 sugar estates in the island in 1673 grew to nearly 430 by 1739. Despite this, these labourers were treated significantly far worse than their predecessors were under Spanish colonisation. It was this treatment that sparked the era of resistance and slave revolts in which the enslaved were fuelled by their burning desire to acquire freedom. As such, the slaves across the plantations on the island teamed up with each other and the Maroons who had previously fled into the mountains at the time of the English invasion.
They often held clandestine meetings in which they discussed the various methods of resistance to their enslavement. Many of the slaves on the plantations with aid from the Maroons escaped from the plantations and joined the Maroon mountain communities, helping them to free more slaves from the plantations. Not only did they free the enslaved but they also destroyed the crops on the plantations, killed many of the inhabitants of the plantations’ Great Houses. The most notorious of these Maroons were Nanny, Cudjoe and Accompong, formidable forces to the British who were extremely successful in defending their fortresses from English invaders who sought to re-enslave them.
The most notable rebellions led against slavery in the 18th century in Jamaica include the Easter Rebellion of 1760 led by Tacky, the First and Second Maroon Wars in 1739 and 1740. Following several losses against the Maroons, the English were forced to sign peace treaties in 1740, granting the Maroons self-government and the rights of free men; ceding to them the mountain lands they inhabited while prohibiting them from accepting or helping run-away slaves. This treaty resulted in a rift among the Maroons who disagreed on whether they should abide by the clauses stipulated in the treaty.