African Maroons in Sixteenth-Century Panama: A History in Documents

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University of Oklahoma Press, Sep 2, 2021 - History - 304 pages
From the 1520s through the 1580s, thousands of African slaves fled captivity in Spanish Panama and formed their own communities in the interior of the isthmus. African Maroons in Sixteenth-Century Panama, a primary source reader, edited by Robert C. Schwaller, documents this marronage in the context of five decades of African resistance to slavery.

The self-sufficiency of the Maroons, along with their periodic raids against Spanish settlements, sparked armed conflict as Spaniards sought to conquer the maroon communities and kill or re-enslave their populations. After decades of struggle, Maroons succeeded in negotiating a peace with Spanish authorities and establishing the first two free Black towns in the Americas. The little-known details of this dramatic history emerge in these pages, traced through official Spanish accounts, reports, and royal edicts, as well as excerpts from several English sources that recorded alliances between Maroons and English privateers in the region. The contrasting Spanish and English accounts reveal Maroons' attempts to turn European antagonism to their advantage; and, significantly, several accounts feature direct testimony from Maroons. Most importantly, this reader includes translations of the first peace agreements made between a European empire and African Maroons, and the founding documents of the free-Black communities of Santiago del Príncipe and Santa Cruz la Real—the culmination of the first successful African resistance movement in the Americas.

Schwaller has translated all the documents into English and presents each with a short introduction, thorough annotations, and full historical, cultural, and geographical context, making this volume accessible to undergraduate students while remaining a unique document collection for scholars.

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Royal Cedula Authorizing Rewards for Capturing Maroons April
Francisco Carreños 1554 Expedition against Bayano 1562
Governor Luis de Guzmán to the Crown August 28 1562
The Cabildo of Panama City to the Crown May 25 1571
Excerpts from Sir Francis Drake Revived Drakes Alliance with Maroons January 1573
The Cabildo of Panama to the Crown February 24 1573
Dr Loarte to Viceroy Toledo June 8 1577
Dr Loarte to the Crown September 5 1577
Diego de Frías Trejo to the Crown October 21 1577
Excerpts from the Questioning of John Oxenham October
Diego de Frías Trejo to the Crown December 7 1577
Diego de Frías Trejo to the Crown February 18 1578
Dr Criado de Castilla to the Crown May 12 1578
Diego de Frías Trejo to the Crown May 15 1578

Excerpts from Sir Francis Drake Revived Drakes Final Attack April 1573
Cristóbal Montes Report on Drakes April Raid 1573
The Cabildo of Nombre de Dios to the Crown May 14 1573
Royal Cedula in Which His Majesty Orders Pedro Menéndez to Wage War September 3 1573
Pedro de Ortega Valencia to the Crown November 1 1573
Royal Cedula concerning the Peaceful Surrender of Negros Cimarrones June 21 1574
Act concerning Pardon for Negros Cimarrones February 28 1575
The Audiencia to the Crown May 6 1575
Lopez Vazs Account of John Oxenhams 1576 Expedition 1586
The Cabildo of Panama to the Crown April 26 1577
Dr Loarte to the Crown April 26 1577
The City of Panama to the Crown June 7 1577
Royal Cedula Ordering War with Negros Cimarrones May
Testimony of Rodrigo Hernández Dean of the Cathedral
Arrival of Negros from the Cerro de Cabra to Surrender to Royal
Account of Captain Antonio de Salcedo in Portobelo September
Juan de Vivero Treasurer to the Crown February 28 1581
The Audiencia to the Crown December 24 1581
Pedro González de Meceta to Dr Criado de Castilla December
February 1582
Questioning of Maçatanba September 28 1582

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About the author (2021)

Robert C. Schwaller is Associate Professor of History at the University of Kansas, Lawrence. His research focuses on the development of racial identity in early colonial Latin America.

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