The Masterless People: Pirates, Maroons, and the Struggle to Live Free

“the maroon is the lens through which we can understand freedom, which is not a static condition but “perpetual, unfinished, and rooted in acts of flight.” All of us, no matter the color or creed, have oppression and a longing for the freedom to be deep down in our roots. It’s why forgiveness is so important. Every person also has the seeds of master and slave in them.


Joseph Kelly | an excerpt adapted from Marooned: Jamestown, Shipwreck, and a New History of America’s Origins| Bloomsbury | October 2018 | 16 minutes (4,192 words)

The English word maroon did not yet exist in 1607. The Spanish word from which it derives, cimarrón, was first coined to describe domesticated cattle brought to Hispaniola that escaped into the wild parts of the island. Most scholars today accept some form of this derivation, which dates at least to 1535, just forty years after Columbus landed on Hispaniola. By 1540, cimarrón was applied to Africans who, like the chattel before them, fled to the remote, wild places behind Spanish coastal colonies. Maroon first appeared in English in 1666 when John Davies, translating a history of Barbados, wrote that slaves, like those animals, would “run away and get into the Mountains and Forests, where they live like so many Beasts; then…

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7 responses to “The Masterless People: Pirates, Maroons, and the Struggle to Live Free”

  1. I very much enjoyed reading tale’s of Francis Drake I’d not heard before……….. a plunderer of Peruvian silver! (I’m an Elizabethan history nerd) and ty for linking the original post.


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