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Maroon Communities in 18th C South Carolina

Funded by the British Academy

Duration of project: 01/09/2006 - 31/12/2007

Contact Dr. Tim Lockley


Runaway slaves (maroons) formed independent communities throughout the Americas, but hitherto this has been generally understood to be more common in Latin America and the Caribbean. This research argues that marronage in South Carolina was as widespread, and occurred for more than a century partly because South Carolina, alone among North American colonies, shared some demographic similarities with the Caribbean, but also because the large number of coastal swamps provided a ready refuge. This research has therefore shown that this form of slave resistance was more important in South Carolina than previously thought.

This project entailed visits to archives in South Carolina and Georgia in order to transcribe primary sources relating to marronage. Particular use was made of local newspapers, which sometimes exist in single hard copies and have not been microfilmed, as well as private manuscripts. The official correspondence of the colonial governments of Georgia and South Carolina was also very helpful. Considerable time was taken in identifying locations and individuals mentioned in the primary documents on contemporary maps, since this was vital in order to understand the geographic extent of marronage and the territory controlled by maroon groups. This aspect of the research also demonstrated the popularity of certain areas (particularly swamps) as refuges.

The book which emerged from this project has been organized chronologically into three main sections; the pre-Revolutionary era, the post-Revolutionary era and the 1820s. I wrote a lengthy introduction on the topic of marronage in the Americas, taking a hemispheric perspective, and for each primary source included I wrote a short commentary putting it in context. At the end of the volume I outlined the key themes which emerged from the primary materials. "Maroon Communities in South Carolina: A Documentary Record" was published in February 2009 by the University of South Carolina Press.

Web article: "Runaway Slave Communities in South Carolina"

Maroon communities 


British Academy