Slave Patrols, Militias - And Runaway Slave Communities

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One factor that has been missed in the examination of the influence of slave patrols on the 2nd amendment of the US constitution, is the fact that in the more remote parts of the South and the national borders of the time, there were entire communities of runaway African Americans and Native Americans. Ultimately, this led to the 'Trail of Tears' and the movement of these communities to the state of Oklahoma.

There were Maroon communities throughout the remoter parts of the Americas, resulting either from permanent slave uprisings or temporary refuges. Especially the communities in Surinam, Venezuela, Haiti, Jamaica became famous, as well as the swampy areas of Georgia, South Carolina and Florida.

There is an excellent book called Maroon Societies - Rebel slave communities in the Americas, by prof. Richard Price. Part Three deals with the Americas.

The United States

AS in so many colonies, among the very first group of slaves to be landed in what is now the United States were the first maroons-to-be.

A Spanish colonizer, Lucas Vasquez de Allyon, founded, in the summer of 1526, a community whose probable location was at or near the mouth of the Pedee River in what is now South Carolina. The settlement consisted of about five hundred Spaniards and one hundred Negro slaves. Trouble soon beset it. Illness caused numerous deaths, carrying off, in October, Allyon himself. Internal dissension arose, and the Indians grew increasingly suspicious and hostile. Finally, probably in November, several of the slaves rebelled, and fled to the Indians. The next month what was left of adventurers, some one hundred and fifty souls, returned to Haiti, leaving the rebel Negroes with their Indian friends - as the first permanent inhabitants, other than the Indians, in what was to be the United States [Aptheker 1969:163].

There is considerable irony, but certainly little accident, in the fact that the study of North American maroons has been so largely neglected. It had long been known that periodic slave truancy, petit marronage, was an everyday feature of Southern plantation life. But Aptheker's pioneering 1939 paper, reprinted here, documented a staggering number of actual maroon settlements, scattered over much of the United States, and showed that many of them lasted for periods of years. ... Today, from the backlands of New Jersey through Appalachia, southwestward into Texas and even across the Mexican border, the descendants of many of those maroons who chose to cast their lot with Indians can still be found, largely forgotten, and often desperately poor. It seems quite likely that some maroon traditions are kept alive by these people. One enterprising student recently found a highly developed, innovative technique for "losing the hounds", which apparently originated among maroons from Georgia rice plantations, vividly remembered and discussed by local poor whites (Hodges 1971). The United States then, still represents challenging opportunities of both an ethnographic and historical nature for the study of maroons, one that should flesh out our understanding of North American slavery more generally,. Though Aptheker's paper is little more than a bare survey, it has not been superseeded. Suggestions to further readings are found in the bibliographical note to Part Three.

Maroons Within the Present Limits of the United States
Herbert Aptheker

An ever-present feature of antebellum southern life was the existence of camps of runaway Negro slaves, often called maroons, when they all but established themselves independently on the frontier. These were seriously annoying, for they were sources of insubordination. They offered havens for fugitives, served as bases for marauding expeditions against nearby plantations and, at times, supplied the nucleus of leadership for planned uprisings.

IT appears that notice of these maroon communities was taken only when they were accidentally uncovered or when their activities became so obnoxious or dangerous to the slavocracy that their destruction was felt to be necessary. Evidence of the existence of at least fifty of such communities in various places and at various times, from 1672 to 1864, has been found. The mountainous, forested or swampy regions of South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama (in order of importance) appear to have been the favorite haunts of these black Robin Hoods. At times a settled life, rather than a pugnacious and migratory one, was aimed at, as is evidenced by the fact that these maroons built homes, maintained families, raised cattle, and pursued agriculture, but this all but settled life appears to have been exceptional.

The most noted of such communities was located in the Dismal Swamp between Virginia and North Carolina. (2) It seems likely that about two thousand Negroes, fugitives, or descendents of fugitives, lived in this area. They carried on a regular, if illegal trade with white people living on the border of the swamp. Such settlements may have been more numerous than available evidence would indicate, for their occupants aroused less excitement and less resentment than the guerilla outlaws.

The activities of maroons in Virginia in 1672 approached the point of rebellion so that a law was passed urging and rewarding the hunting down and killing of these outlaws (Hening n.d., II:299; Bruce 1896, II:115).

An item of November 9, 1691, notices the depredations caused by a slave, Mingoe, from Middlesex County, Virginia, and his unspecified number of followers in Rappahannock County (Order Book, Middlesex County, 1680-94:526-27 [Virginia State Library]; Bruce 1896, II:116). These Negroes not only took cattle and dogs, but, what was more important, they had recently stolen "two guns, a Carbyne & other things."

In June 1711, the inhabitants of the colony of South Carolina were kept "in great fear and terror" by the activities of "several Negroes [who] keep out, armed, and robbing and plundering houses and plantations" (Holland 1823:63; Wallace 1934, I:372). These men were led by a slave named Sebastian, who was finally tracked down and killed by an Indian hunter. Lieutenant Governor Gooch of Virginia wrote to the Lords of Trade, June 29, 1729, "of some runaway Negroes beginning a settlement in the Mountains & of their being reclaimed by their Master" (Virginia manuscripts from British Record Office, Sainsbury, IX:462, Virginia State Library). He assured the Lords that the militia was being trained "prevent this for the future".

In September 1733, the governor of South Carolina offered a reward of 20 pounds alive or 10 pounds dead for "Several Run away Negroes who are near the Congerees, & have robbed several of the Inhabitants thereabouts." The Notchee Indians offered, in April 1744, to aid teh government of South Carolina in maintaining the subordination of its slave population. Three nomths later, on July 5, 1744, Governor James Glen applied "for the assistance of some Notchee Indians in order to apprehend some runaway Negroes, who had shelted themselves in the Woods, and being armed, had committed disorders.." (Council Journal [MS.] V:487, 494; XI:187, 383, South Carolina Historical Commission, Columbia, S.C.).

The number of runaways in South Carolina in 1765 was exceedingly large. This led to fears of a general rebellion (Wallace 1934, I:373). At least one considerable camp of maroons was destroyed that year by military force. A letter from Charleston of August 15, 1768, told of a battle with a body of maroons, "a numerous collection of outcast mulattoes, mustees, and free negroes" (Boston Chronicle, October 3-10, 1768).

Governor James Habersham of Georgia learned in December 1771 "that a great number of fugitive Negroes had committed many Robberies and insults between his town [Savannah] and Ebenezer and that their Numbers (which) were now Considerable might be expected to increase daily." (Candler 1907, XII:146-47, 325-26).

Indian hunters and militia men were employed to blot out this menace. Yet the same danger was present in Georgia in the summer of 1772. Depredations, piracy, and arson were frequent, and again the militia saw service. A letter from Edmund Randolph to James Madison of August 30, 1782, discloses somewhat similar trouble in Virginia (Conway 1888:50-51). At this time it appears that "a notorious robber," a white man, had gathered together a grop of about fifty men, Negro and white, and was terrorizing the community.

The British had combated the revolutionist's siege of Savannah with the aid of a numerous body of Negro slaves, who served under the inspiration of a promised freedom. The defeat of the British crushed the hopes of these Negroes. They fled, with their arms, called themselves soldiers of the King of England, and carried on a guerilla warfare for years along the Savannah River. Militia from Georgia, together with Indian allies, successfully attacked the Negro settlement in May 1786, with resulting heavy casualties (Stephens 1859, II:376-78; Woodson 1928:123; Historical Manuscripts Commission, Report on American Manuscripts, London 1904, II:544). Governor Thomas Pinckney of South Carolina referred in his legislative message of 1787 to the serious depredations of a group of armed fugitive slaves in the southern part of the state.

Roger Casement's picture
Roger Casement
Nov. 22, 2011 11:07 am


Thom had some guy on his show talking about how the South should secede or something to that effect, claiming that "Southern culture" is part of a broader legacy spanning into South America.

The Wikipedia article talks about the most famous of these settlements which is considered to have been an independent nation. The second talks about the threats to the communities which are the descendents of these people, including mining and deforestation.

Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Confederados are in Brazil from TX and SC

I bet Alcoa would love to offer a get together with the former slave families they want to evict.

Brazil, like the United States, is a land of immigrants, and the confederados joined a rush of 2.8 million Italians, Germans, Portuguese, Japanese and others who trekked here between the 1820s and the late 1920s.

The Americans came to Brazil at the urging of Emperor Dom Pedro II, who longed to see them bring their cotton-planting expertise to his sprawling land. By the late 1860s, several thousand Southerners were steaming for Brazil from the ports of New Orleans, Galveston, Tex., Charleston, S.C., Newport News, Va., and Baltimore.

The Steagall family arrived in 1868. They came from Texas, and like many confederados, they drew comfort from the undulating landscape, the rich, red-clay earth and the balmy temperatures of their new nation. Brazil, at least this patch in the southeast, reminded them of home.

douglaslee's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

civil-war-history-confederate-descendants-in-mexico-part-1.shows some interesting players.

Some of these expatriates traveled to Brazil, and their descendants are to be found to this day in the communities of Santarem, near Belterra, and Villa Americana, in the State of Sao Paulo. Others went to Venezuela. But Mexico proved by far the most enticing destination, as it seemed to offer a nearly perfect site for relocation. What drew the exiles to Mexico? Geographical proximity was by no means the only consideration. The current political situation in Mexico invited their immigration, and one of their staunchest Confederate compatriots was deeply involved with the colonization movement sponsored by Maximilian and Napoleon III. Napoleon had seized control of the country in 1863 and placed it under the rule of his Habsburg relative, Maximilian. Then, in 1865, an appeal for settlers was made by Maximilian's protege Matthew Fontaine Maury, an internationally respected oceanographer who was revered in his native Virginia as a Civil War leader. Commodore Maury had spent long months in England seeking tangible aid for the Confederate cause during the war, and his word was enough to inspire confidence in any colonizing venture. The colonization boom now took on real impetus.

There had been an earlier scheme fostered by Dr. William M. Gwin, who had visualized a grand colony of ex-Confederates in the province of Sonora, in the northwest district of Mexico. Napoleon had approved Gwin's plan, knowing that an exploitation of the metals in that region would yield France an appreciable return on her investment. However, Gwin's grandiose ideas and his desire for personal glory had antagonized Maximilian, and nothing came of the plan.

With Maury, it was different. He had known Maximilian when the latter was archduke of Austria and in command of the Austrian navy in 1854; the 2 seafarers had much in common and understood each other well. It was natural that Maximilian should turn to his old friend to head colonization from the States. Their effort got under way formally on September 5, 1865, when Maximilian set aside a tract of 500,000 acres for the new immigrants. The little community of Carlota offered a man with a family 640 acres, at $1 an acre, plus a lot in town. The land was given with a certificate that it was free from mortgage. In addition, it was exempt from taxes the 1st year. For those who had lost everything in the Civil War, the Mexican Government was willing to provide transportation to Mexico and arrange for the colonist's trip to the undeveloped parts of the public domain set aside for this type of immigrant.

Maximilian's offer was, needless to say, attractive to the civilians anxious to flee the ruthless reconstruction going on in their beloved South under the direction of Northern occupation forces.

Yankees! Oh my!
Even those Confederate soldiers-among them Generals Kirby-Smith, Magruder, Shelby, Slaughter, Walker, and Hindman-who went to Mexico in search of new battles in the service of either Juarez, the leader of the rebel forces, or Maximilian and his Imperialist forces, were soon drawn to colonization when they found little welcome from these opposing armies. True, some of the disillusioned returned to Texas, but more stayed on in Mexico to take advantage of the land offers being made under Maury's direction as commissioner of immigration and colonization.
This explains Texan's need to kill, it's genetics. Specifically the inbreeding within the royal lines that were born entitled. Inbreeding also lowers the IQ, thus SCOTX ruling that morons in TX are not mentally deficient, but normal, in TX.

douglaslee's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Social Media Has Created the "Hive Mind" & Let It Loose Into America

Thom plus logo America has always been a racist country, but until recently (in the modern era) we didn't discuss it in "polite" company. Now, social media has created a "hive mind" among us, so the racism that was always there is clear and obvious. And Trump knows it, and is using it to connect with others in his part of the hive.
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