The governor of Jamaica had a problem. Powerful colonists were eager to find reliable sources of slave labor for their plantations. Enslaved Africans mostly satisfied this demand, but the supply was never sufficient. Another source of slave labor was also present, however: Native Americans. In the 1660s a clandestine trade emerged between Jamaicans and various native groups on the Central American coast. Parts of the Yucatán Peninsula, the Mosquito Coast, and the Darién in eastern Panamá, where the Spaniards exercised little or no authority, became regular destinations of English vessels. The exchange of beads and knives for local goods such as turtle shells, fowl, corn, and dyewood occasionally included captured natives from the interior. English ship crews took these captives to Jamaica and...

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