West Indian Peasantry Essay

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West Indian Peasantry

Many wonder why the slaves of the West Indies , especially when in areas where they constituded a large portion of the population, did not revolt and free themselves. Many feel the slaves were too apathetic to their situation, and many can't fathom how the slaves would let themselves be enslaved for hundreds of years. Many don't realize, however, that the slaves did revolt in many ways, in many places, and at many times. The slaves used both covert and overt ways of revolting against their oppressive position, but were never able to create a unified vast movement that could create broad and permanent changes. Many slaves used covert methods to revolt such as intentionally working indolently and commiting
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In 1717, Barbados legislators "enacted that any Negro who had been a year in the island and absented himself for thirty days should have one of his feet cut off." In 1767, St. Vincent "required every slaveowner to search the Negro houses for runaways every fortnight." In 1766, in the French West Indies, it was ruled that "thirty lashes and eight days in goal for slaves in whose dwellings runaways were apprehended." Many of these runaway slaves formed maroon societies. They developed their own settlements on undeveloped land or they joined with the Caribs. In 1639, St. Kitts had a slave revolt and many slaves fled to form a maroon society in the mountains. But the maroon fort was stormed and taken by French soldiers and many of the rebels died . In Dominica many slaves abandoned the plantations and joined the Caribs on the east of the island. However, most of the maroon societies and escaped slaves were living a dream and could wake up at any moment. When escaping slaves became a substantial problem, the slave owners could simply call on the militia or form groups that easily eradicated the maroon settlements. Except for a few occasions. When the English took over Jamaica, many of the blacks on the island fled to the interior forming a maroon society. After trying to exterminate the maroons for over seventy years, there was no alternative for the English but
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