Margaret Washington on the formation of maroon communities
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Q: How were maroon communities in Georgia and South Carolina being formed? Who was likely to flee to a maroon community?
A: When the American Revolution began, maroon communities became larger and they became stronger. And it's important in the context of the American Revolution, because we tend to think only in terms of Africans going to the British or fighting with the Americans or joining the Indians. But they also formed their own little villages, the little maroon societies in unsettled areas of Georgia, on various remote islands in South Carolina, and in Florida. And sometimes they would make attacks on plantations and then disappear. Sometimes they would even go into these plantations and take people back with them, sometimes even by force. In this way, they fortified their communities.
But during the Revolution, there was an upsurge of these communities. And they remained there. They were very hard to get rid of. But eventually, by around 1800, they had all been pretty much "taken care of."
Maroonage was very much a part of the American Revolutionary experience. And it probably represents, more than anything else, the autonomy within some of the African American communities. And probably, the maroons were mainly those people who were closest to Africa, who were comfortable neither with the British nor with the Americans, nor with the Indians, but wanted to live among themselves in their own communities, as close to an African culture as they could get.
Associate Professor of History
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