Acadian Expulsion Essay Contest

Acadian militias were units of Acadian part-time soldiers who fought in coordination with the Wabanaki Confederacy (particularly the Mi'kmaq militias) and French forces during the colonial period, to defend Acadia against encroachment by the English (the British after 1707).[a] Some other Acadians provided military intelligence, sanctuary, and logistical support to the resistance movement. (And other Acadians remained neutral in the contest between the French–Wabanaki Confederacy forces and the British.) The Acadian militias achieved effective resistance for more than 75 years and through six wars before their eventual demise. According to Acadian historian Maurice Basque, the story of Evangeline continues to influence historic accounts of the deportation, emphasising neutral Acadians and de-emphasising those who resisted the British.[3] While Acadian militia was briefly active during the American Revolution, the militias were dormant throughout the nineteenth century. After confederation, Acadians eventually joined the Canadian War efforts in World War I and World War II. The most well-known colonial leaders of these militias were Joseph Broussard and Joseph-Nicolas Gautier.

Contest for supremacy in North America[edit]

King William's War (1688-1697)[edit]

See also: King William's War

The first war to influence the Acadians is now known as King William's War, and began in 1688. Much of the local conflict was orchestrated by the Governor of Acadia and Baron de St Castin, who raided Protestant villages along the Acadia-New England border at the Kennebec River in present-day Maine. The crews of the French privateer Pierre Maisonnat dit Baptiste were primarily Acadian.

The Acadians resisted during the Raid on Chignecto (1696). Colonel Benjamin Church and four hundred men (50 to 150 of whom were Indians, likely Iroquois) arrived offshore of Beaubassin on September 20. When they came ashore, the Acadians and Mi’kmaq opened fire on them. Church lost a lieutenant and several of his men.[4] They managed to get ashore and surprise the Acadians. Many fled while one confronted Church with papers showing they had signed an oath of allegiance in 1690 to the English King. Church was unconvinced, especially after he discovered the proclamation heralding the French success at Pemaquid posted on the church door.[citation needed]

On October 18 Church and his troops arrived opposite the capital of Acadia, in the Siege of Fort Nashwaak (1696), landed three cannons and assembled earthworks on the south bank of the Nashwaak River.[b]Pierre Maisonnat dit Baptiste was there to defend the capital.[c] Baptiste joined the Maliseet from Meductic for the duration of the siege. There was a fierce exchange of gun fire for two days, with the advantage going to the better sited French guns. The New Englanders were defeated, having suffered eight killed and seventeen wounded. The French lost one killed and two wounded.[5]

Letters from an Acadian official censured and requested the removal of certain priests, called "do nothings", who took no part in the King William's War but attended strictly to their religious duties and were therefore suspected of favouring the British.[6] After the Siege of Pemaquid (1696), d'Iberville led a force of 124 Canadians, Acadians, Mi’kmaq and Abanaki in the Avalon Peninsula Campaign. They destroyed almost every British settlement in Newfoundland, killed more than 100 British and captured many more. They deported almost 500 British colonists to Britain or France.[7]

Queen Anne's War (1702–1713)[edit]

During Queen Anne's War, the members of the Wabanaki Confederacy from Acadia raided Protestant settlements along the Acadia/ New England border in present-day Maine in the Northeast Coast Campaign (1703) . Mi’kmaq and Acadians resisted the New England retaliatory Raid on Grand Pré, Piziquid and Chignecto in 1704. The raid was led by Benjamin Church who was fired on by the local militia, who had gathered in the woods along the banks. According to Church, on the first day of the raid, the Acadians and Mi’kmaq "fired smartly at our forces".[8] Church had a small cannon on his boat, which he used to fire grape shot at the attackers on the shore, who withdrew, suffering one Mi’kmaq killed and several wounded. Church was unable to come ashore. Having withdrawn from the village, the next morning the Acadian and Mi’kmaq militia waited in the woods for Church and his men to arrive. At the break of day, the New Englanders again set off toward the village, under orders from Church to drive any resistance before them. The largest body of defenders fired on the raiders' right flank from behind trees and logs, but their fire was ineffective and they were driven off.

Conquest of Acadia and the Treaty of Utrecht[edit]

Acadians joined the French privateer Pierre Maisonnat dit Baptiste as crew members in his victories over British vessels. Acadians also fought alongside the Confederacy and French soldiers to protect the capital in the Siege of Port Royal (1707) and the final Conquest of Acadia. Acadians and the Wabanaki Confederacy were also successful in the Battle of Bloody Creek (1711). The victory at Bloody Creek rallied the local resistance, and prompted many of the Acadians who were nominally under British protection to withdraw to the north.[10] Soon thereafter a force of some 600 warriors, including Acadians, Abenaki, and Mi’kmaq, under the leadership of Gaulin and Saint-Castin, gathered and blockaded Fort Anne. The defending garrison was small, but the attackers had no artillery and were thus unable to make an impression on the fort, and the fort was still accessible by sea.[10] Gaulin went to Plaisance in Newfoundland for supplies and equipment to advance the siege; Governor Philippe Pastour de Costebelle provided supplies, but the ship had the misfortune to encounter a major British fleet and was captured.[12] That same expedition abandoned its goal of attacking Quebec when eight of its ships were lost on the shores of the Saint Lawrence River; Governor Vetch, who had accompanied the expedition as a leader of the provincial militia, returned to Annapolis Royal with 200 provincial militia, after which the besiegers withdrew.[13]

In the March 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, the French ceded "all Nova Scotia or Acadie, with its ancient boundaries, as also the city of Port Royal, now called Annapolis Royal, and all other things in those parts, which depend on the said lands and islands" to the British, but retained "the island called Cape Breton, as also all others, both in the mouth of the river of St. Lawrence, and in the gulph of the same name" with exception of the "island called Newfoundland with the adjacent islands," which "shall from this time forward belong of right wholly to Britain".[14] For whatever reason, most Acadians refused to swear an oath of loyalty to Queen Anne or, later, King George. Thus were fifty years of nearly uninterrupted conflict to start, which were only to be punctuated by the expulsion of the Acadians.[15]

Father Rale's War[edit]

Raid on Canso (1718) - The Squirrel Affair[edit]

In the lead up to Father Rale's War, shortly after Cyprian Southack established himself at Shelburne, Nova Scotia (1715), the Mi'kmaq raided the station and burned it to the ground. In response, on 17–24 September 1718, Southack led a raid on Canso and Chedabucto (present-day community of Guysborough) in what became known as the Squirrel Affair. Southack laid siege for three days to Fort St. Louis at Chedabucto, which was defended primarily by Acadians under Acadian Bernard LaSonde. There were approximately 300 Acadians in the area.

On board the HMS Squirrel, Smart held a number of Frenchmen, including Bernard Marres dit La Sonde, Captain Darguibes, the French fishing admiral, and Sieur Dominice, a Basque captain.

On 23 September, Smart and Southack pillaged Canso. The pillaged goods were then loaded onto several French ships that had been captured in the harbor. The following day, 24 September, Southack released the Acadian prisoners, with the exception of Bernard Marres dit La Sonde, onto the Canso Islands without any provisions or clothing.[19] Others fled to Isle Madame and Petit-de-Grat, Nova Scotia.[20] He seized two French ships, and encouraged Governor of Nova Scotia Richard Philipps to build Fort William Augustus at Canso.

During Father Rale's War, the Maliseet raided numerous New England vessels on the Bay of Fundy while the Mi’kmaq, helped by Acadians, raided Canso, Nova Scotia (1723). Much of the conflict of this war happened along the Acadia-New England border. A priest, Father Sebastian Rale and Wabanaki Confederacy members from Acadia also participated in the 1723, 1724 campaigns along the border against the British, who had long threatened to remove the Acadians because they would not take an oath of loyalty. Even during Father Le Loutre's War some twenty years later, the British talked of deporting the Acadians who would not swear loyalty to Britain. On 28 December 1720, in London, someone in the House of Lords said: "It seems as though the French in Nova Scotia will never be good British subjects to her Majesty ... This is why we believe that they should be expulsed as soon as the necessary forces, which will be sent to Nova Scotia, are ready."[22]

King George's War[edit]

Siege of Annapolis Royal (1744)[edit]

During King George's War, Abbe Jean-Louis Le Loutre led an insurrection consisting of Acadians and Mi’kmaq to recapture the capital in the Siege of Annapolis Royal (1744). Acadian François Dupont Duvivier, who had led the Canso raid, led the second siege attempt against Fort Anne, with a force of 200 troops. Grand Pre had been the staging ground for the French and Mi’kmaq sieges of Annapolis Royal.[25] Two Minas inhabitants, Armand Bigeau and Joseph LeBlanc dit Le Maigre, had traded with Louisbourg and assisted the supplying of Duvivier's forces by sea. Both transported Duvivier's force from Louisbourg to Baie Verte and then accompanied the expedition to Annapolis Royal and had served as scoutes and couriers. Duvivier arrived at Fort Anne on September 6, 1744. The first night he erected shelters. He used Joseph-Nicolas Gautier's house for his Headquarters.[27] After both sieges, Gorham demanded to take control of Grand Pre.[25] The British burned the dwellings of both Bigeau and 'Le Maigre' at Minas. In Annapolis, they burned the home of Gautier and imprisoning him and his family at Fort Anne until they escaped after 10 months. The British also burned the homes of Acadian pilots Paul Doucett and Charles Pelerain.

During the siege of 1745, the French officer Marin was required to withdraw from siege to protect Louisbourg from a British attack. He reported that upon hearing the news of Louisbourg and his own withdrawal from Annapolis Royal, the Acadians were "overpowered with grief from the apprehension of remaining in the disposition of the enemy". Marin had taken British prisoners at Annapolis and remained with them in the bay at Cobequid, where an Acadian said that the French soldiers should have "left their [the British] carcasses behind and brought their skins". The British officer also deemed there was enough evidence to hold Gautier's wife and Charles Raymond for collaborating with the siege.

After the Siege of Louisbourg (1745), the Wabanaki Confederacy members from Acadia conducted a campaign against British civilians along the New England/ Acadia border. (Such campaigns were repeated in 1746 and 1747).[34] After the first Siege of Louisbourg (1745), the British deported thousands of "French Colonists" on Île-Royale to France.[35] There were Acadians among those deported.

At the same time, in July 1745, the other English detachment landed at Port-la-Joye. Under the command of Joseph de Pont Duvivier, the French had a garrison of 20 French troops (Compagnies Franches de la Marine) at Port-la-Joye.[36] The troops fled and New Englanders burned the capital to the ground. Duvivier and the twenty men retreated up the Northeast River (Hillsborough River), pursued by the New Englanders until the French troops received reinforcements from the Acadian militia and the Mi’kmaq.[37] The French troops and their allies were able to drive the New Englanders to their boats, nine New Englanders killed, wounded or made prisoner. The New Englanders took six Acadian hostages, who would be executed if the Acadians or Mi’kmaq rebelled against New England control.[37]

Siege of Port Toulouse[edit]

During the Siege of Port Toulouse, on May 2, 1745, Pepperell sent Jeremiah Moulton with 70 soldiers and two vessels to capture the fortified village of Port Toulouse. The New Englanders were only able to capture a single sloop and burn a few houses before being repelled by the French soldiers, Acadians and Mi’kmaq. They wounded three New Englanders when they were retreating.[38] Eight days later, on May 10, the New Englanders returned with a force four times larger – 270 men. They burned every standing structure at Port Toulouse, demolished the fort, and desecrated a cemetery where Mi’kmaq were buried.[39] Some French were killed in the assault and others were taken prisoner.[40]

After the failure of the French Duc d'Anville Expedition to recapture Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia Governor Paul Mascarene told Acadians to avoid "deluding Hopes of Returning under the Dominion of France". One French officer noted that when the French troops withdrew from Annapolis Royal, the Acadians were alarmed and disappointed, and felt they were being abandoned to British retribution.[42] The following year, Acadians helped the French to destroy British troops in the Battle of Grand Pré.

Battle of Grand Pre[edit]

Broussard and other Acadians supported the French soldiers in the Battle of Grand Pré.[44] Ramezay elicited more support from the Acadians, enjoyed more of their collaboration, than the other enterprises. He reported to have enlisted 25 Acadians from Piziquid to Grand Pre ready to bear arms. (Some Acadians may not have supported French efforts in Acadia. Louis Liénard de Beaujeu de Villemond stated in his journal that while the Canadian troops were passing several villages near present day Truro, Captain Coulon on his approach march to the battle sent a detachment of troops at "daybreak to Copequit to block all the paths because the ill intentioned inhabitants could undertake to pass and alert the English to our march".[45] Captain Charles Morris reported the French were supported by "... about 100 of the Neutral French join'd with them".[46] As well, local intelligence pinpointed Noble's billets with stunning accuracy. Near the end of the battle Morris spied an enemy group "clothed like the Inhabitants whom afterward we were inform'd they were, they were all arm'd & having assisted the enemy in the night they were getting off to prevent discovery but unluckily passing into the woods came in full sight of us."[46] The French fleet movements in Nova Scotia waters before the massacre enjoyed the help of Acadian pilots, including Nicholas Gautier and his two sons.


After the fall of Louisbourg, in conjunction with Father Charles Germain and Joseph Marin de la Malgue, Acadian and Mi'kmaq militias (40 Acadians and 100 Mi'kmaq) from Tatamagouche repeatedly attacked the British who were occupying the fort and the prevent any British settlements from being established in Acadia.

Father Le Loutre's War[edit]

Within 18 months of establishing Halifax, and the start of Father Le Loutre's War, the British took firm control of the Nova Scotia peninsula by building fortifications in all the major Acadian communities: present-day Windsor (Fort Edward); Grand Pré (Fort Vieux Logis) and Chignecto (Fort Lawrence). A British fort already existed at the other major Acadian centre of Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia and Cobequid remained without a fort. Le Loutre is reported to have said that "the English might build as many Forts as they pleased but he wou'd take care that they shou'd not come out of them, for he was resolved to torment them with his Indians...."[50]Richard Bulkeley wrote that between 1749 and 1755, Nova Scotia "was kept in an uninterrupted state of war by the Acadians ... and the reports of an officer commanding Fort Edward (Nova Scotia), [indicated he] could not be conveyed [to Halifax] with less an escort than an officer and thirty men."[51]

The Mi’kmaq attacked New England Rangers in the Siege of Grand Pre and Battle at St. Croix. Upon the founding of Halifax (1749), Acadians and Mi’kmaq conducted twelve raids on the capital region; the most significant raid was the one in 1751 on Dartmouth. They also resisted the initial British occupation of Chignecto (1750) and later fought against them in the Battle of Beausejour (1755).

Throughout Father Le Loutre's War, English speakers began calling the Acadians "French neutral", a label that would remain in common use through the 1750s. British people used the term sarcastically in derision. This stance led to the Acadians becoming known at times as the "neutral French".[53] In 1749, Governor Cornwallis again asked the Acadians to take the oath and although he was unsuccessful, he took no drastic action against them. The following governor, Peregrine Hopson, continued the conciliatory policy towards the Acadians.[54]

Acadian Exodus[edit]

Main article: Acadian Exodus

During the war, Acadians revealed their political allegiance by leaving mainland Nova Scotia. From 1749–55, there was massive Acadian migration out of British-occupied mainland Nova Scotia and into French-occupied Île Saint-Jean (Prince Edward Island), Île Royale (Cape Breton) and present-day New Brunswick. A prominent Acadian who transported Acadians to Île St. Jean and Île Royal was Joseph-Nicolas Gautier. While some Acadians were forced to leave, for others the act of leaving British-occupied territory for French-occupied territory was an act of resistance to the British occupation.[55] On one occasion, when a British naval patrol intercepted Acadians in a vessel en route to Île St. Jean, an Acadian passenger said, "They chose rather to quit their lands and estates than possess them upon the terms propos'd by the English [sic] governor. The leader of the Exodus was Father Jean-Louis Le Loutre, whom the British gave the code name “Moses”.[57] Historian Micheline Johnson described Le Loutre as "the soul of the Acadian resistance."[49]

Battle at Chignecto (1750)[edit]

Main article: Battle at Chignecto

In May 1750, Lawrence was unsuccessful in getting a base at Chignecto because Le Loutre burned the village of Beaubassin, preventing Lawrence from using its supplies to establish a fort. (According to the historian Frank Patterson, the Acadians at Cobequid also burned their homes as they retreated from the British to Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia in 1754.[58]) Lawrence retreated, but he returned in September 1750.

On September 3, Rous, Lawrence and Gorham led over 700 men to Chignecto, where Mi’kmaq and Acadians opposed their landing. They killed twenty British, who in turn killed several Mi’kmaq. Le Loutre's militia eventually withdrew, burning the rest of the Acadians' crops and houses as they went. Le Loutre and the Acadian militia leader Joseph Broussard resisted the British assault. The British troops defeated the resistance and began construction of Fort Lawrence near the site of the ruins of Beaubassin.[60] The work on the fort proceeded rapidly and they completed the facility within weeks. To limit the British to peninsular Nova Scotia, the French also began to fortify the Chignecto and its approaches; they constructed Fort Beausejour and two satellite forts: one at present-day Port Elgin, New Brunswick (Fort Gaspareaux) and the other at present-day Saint John, New Brunswick (Fort Menagoueche).[61]

During these months, 35 Mi’kmaq and Acadians ambushed Ranger Captain Francis Bartelo, killing him and six of his men while taking seven others captive. The Mi’kmaq conducted ritual torture of the captives throughout the night, which had a chilling effect on the New Englanders.

Siege of Grand Pre[edit]

On November 27, 1749, in the Siege of Grand Pre, 300 Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, Penobscot and Acadians attacked Fort Vieux Logis at Grand Pre. The fort was under the command of Captain Handfield[63] of the Cornwallis' Regiment. The Native and Acadian militia killed the sentrys (guards) who were firing on them.[64] The Natives then captured Lieutenant John Hamilton and eighteen soldiers under his command (including Handfield's son), while surveying the fort's environs. After the capture of the British soldiers, the native and Acadian militias made several attempts over the next week to lay siege to the fort before breaking off the engagement. When Gorham’s Rangers arrived the militia had already departed with the prisoners to Chignecto.[65]

Raid on Dartmouth (1751)[edit]

The Raid on Dartmouth occurred during Father Le Loutre's War on May 13, 1751 when an Acadian and Mi’kmaq militia from Chignecto, under the command of Acadian Joseph Broussard, raided Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, destroying the town and killing twenty British villagers. On May 13, 1751 before sunrise, Broussard led sixty Mi'kmaq and Acadians to attack Dartmouth again, in what would be known as the "Dartmouth Massacre".[66] Broussard and the others killed twenty settlers and more were taken prisoner.[f] They burned 36 homes.[68] This raid was one of seven the Natives and Acadians would conduct against the town during the war.

The British retaliated by sending several armed companies to Chignecto. A few French defenders were killed and the dikes were breached. Hundreds of acres of crops were ruined, which was disastrous for the Acadians and the French troops.

Immediately after the raid, a wooden palisade was erected around the town plot.[70] Mi'kmaq and Acadian attacks continued throughout the French and Indian War, which ended fourteen years after Dartmouth was first settled. (For example, in the spring of 1759, there was another attack on Fort Clarence, in which five soldiers were killed.)[71] After the initial raid, no new settlers were placed in Dartmouth again for the next thirty years. Of the 151 settlers who arrived in Dartmouth in August 1750, only half remained two years later.[70] By the end of war (1763), Dartmouth was only left with 78 settlers.[72]

Acadians exerted their political resistance by refusing to trade with the British. By 1754, the Acadians sent no produce to the Halifax market. When British merchants tried to buy directly from the Acadians, they were refused. Acadians also refused to supply Fort Edward with firewood. Lawrence saw the need to neutralize the Acadian military threat. To defeat Louisbourg, the British destroyed the lines of supply by deporting the Acadians.[74]

French and Indian War[edit]

In 1753, French troops from Canada marched south and seized and fortified the Ohio Valley. Britain protested the invasion and claimed Ohio for itself. On May 28, 1754, the French and Indian War (the North American theatre of the Seven Years' War) began with the Battle of Jumonville Glen. French Officer Ensign de Jumonville and a third of his escort was killed by a British patrol led by George Washington. In retaliation the French and the Indians defeated the British at Fort Necessity. Washington lost a third of his force, and surrendered. Major General Edward Braddock's troops were defeated in the Battle of the Monongahela, and William Johnson's troops stopped the French advance at Lake George.

In Acadia, the primary British objective was to defeat the French fortifications at Beausejour and Louisbourg. The British saw the Acadians' allegiance to the French and the Wabanaki Confederacy as a military threat. Father Le Loutre's War had created the conditions for total war; British civilians had not been spared and, as Governor Charles Lawrence and the Nova Scotia Council saw it, Acadian civilians had provided intelligence, sanctuary, and logistical support while others had fought against the British.

After the British capture of Beausejour, the plan to capture Louisbourg included cutting trade to the Fortress in order to weaken the Fortress and, in turn, weaken the French ability to supply the Mi'kmaq in their warfare against the British. According to Historian Stephen Patterson, more than any other single factor—including the massive assault that eventually forced the surrender of Louisbourg—the supply problem brought an end to French power in the region. Lawrence realized he could reduce the military threat and weaken Fortress Louisbourg by deporting the Acadians, thus cutting off supplies to the fort. During the Expulsion, French Officer Charles Deschamps de Boishébert led the Mi'kmaq and the Acadians in a guerrilla war against the British.[76] According to Louisbourg account books, by late 1756 the French had regularly dispensed supplies to 700 natives. From 1756 to the fall of Louisbourg in 1758, the French made regular payments to Chief Jean-Baptiste Cope and other natives for British scalps.

Battle of Petitcodiac[edit]

Charles Deschamps de Boishébert was a French militia commander who became a resistance leader. Based in the Miramichi River valley, he helped Acadians fleeing the British deportation operations escape to Quebec. After the fall of Beausejour, Monckton sent a naval squaldorn to evict him from the satellite fort at the mouth of the Saint John River. Knowing that he could not defend his position, Bosishebert destroyed the fort. When he received word that the British were planning an expedition to the Petitcodiac River, he hurried to Chipoudy, where he organized 120 Acadians, Maliseets and Mi'kmaq into a guerrilla fighting force.[79]

On September 2, the expedition began these clearing operations on settlements in and around the Village-des-Blanchard. While the main body worked on the eastern bank of the river, a detachment of fifty or sixty under John Indicot was despatched to the western bank.[g] When they set fire to the village church, Boishébert and three hundred men attacked. The British retreated behind a dyke and were in a near panic when Frye landed with the remainder of the force and took command. After three hours of spirited fighting, Frye eventually extracted the force to the boats and retreated. Twenty two British were killed and another six were wounded.[h] Ranger Joseph Gorham was wounded in the battle.

Battle of Bloody Creek[edit]

Led by Acadian William Johnson (Guillaume Jeanson),[i] a group of Mi'kmaq and Acadians attacked the British force in the Battle of Bloody Creek.[82] Marching on foot along the south shore of the Annapolis River, the British force was exposed to wet and cold before giving up their search for the prisoners. They were crossing a bridge on the René Forêt River on the morning of December 8 when the Mi'kmaq and Acadians attacked. The British made a brief stand and suffered a high number of casualties, including Captain Pigou, before retreating back to Annapolis Royal.

On another occasion, 226 Acadians (36 families) being deported from Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia on the ship Pembroke rebelled against the British crew. After fighting off an attack by another British vessel on February 9, 1756, the Acadians took 8 British prisoners to Quebec.[83]

Raids on Piziquid (Fort Edward)[edit]

In December 1755, Acadian and Mi'kmaq militia repeated attacked British troops working to kill their livestock, killing one workman which left the others to flea to Halifax.

In September 1756, a group of 100 Acadians ambushed a party of thirteen soldiers who were working outside the fort. Seven were taken prisoner and six escaped back to the fort.[86]

In April 1757, a band of Acadian and Mi'kmaq raided a warehouse near Fort Edward, killing thirteen British soldiers. After loading with what provisions they could carry, they set fire to the building. A few days later, the same partisans also raided Fort Cumberland. Because of the strength of the Acadian militia and Mi'kmaq militia, British officer John Knox

Le Loutre retrieved this bell from the Beaubassin church during the Battle at Chignecto (1750): (Le Loutre retrieved the bell again from the Beausejour Cathedral during the Battle of Beausejour)

The French government envisioned a profit-producing colony of lords and serfs. What they got was a clannish community of sturdy yeomen in which class divisions quickly disappeared and newfangled ideas about self-government, creeping up from New England, made very rapid headway. Families were well fed, healthy and very large. Life in Acadia was good.

Imperial politics turned out to be the snake in this garden of Eden. Over time, the Acadians became objects of suspicion to both the French and the English. The Acadians, a French governor of the colony wrote, "are so little accustomed to subjection that it seems to me that they live as true republicans, recognizing neither royal nor judicial authority." The English, when Acadia came under their control, suspected their new subjects of being loyal to France and of being controlled by scheming priests. The Acadians staked out a middle position, declaring themselves "neutral French" who would abide by French or English laws, whichever happened to apply, but would not take up arms against anyone. This policy bought time, but it eventually led to ruin, as neutrality increasingly came to be seen by the British as a provocation.

The French and Indian War forced the issue. The British, out of patience, decided that the Acadians must go, and after taking Fort Beauséjour, on the border between Acadia and Quebec, they unleashed their wrath. About 7,000 Acadians, nearly half the colony, were transported. Some established permanent enclaves in New England. Others were shipped back to France or England. A hardy few made it as far as the Falkland Islands. The most famous migration, led by the Broussard clan, took some 600 Acadians to southwestern Louisiana, where their descendants became known as Cajuns.

The Acadians who were left behind either escaped to the far reaches of Nova Scotia, and onward to Quebec and New Brunswick, or toiled as tenant farmers on the land that had once been theirs. A few fought as insurgents, notably Joseph Broussard, known as Beausoleil, whom Acadian legend credited with killing a thousand Englishmen. And many simply perished. In all, Mr. Faragher estimates, 10,000 Acadians, a majority of them infants and children, lost their lives through warfare, exposure and starvation.

History was written, or rather expunged, by the victors. The mostly illiterate Acadians left few accounts of their ordeal, and their dispossessors preferred to pass over the events of 1755 in silence. This absence of Acadian voices makes Mr. Faragher's somber history even sadder than it might otherwise be. The great and noble scheme worked, so successfully that an entire people vanished from the land they called paradise, almost without a trace.

Continue reading the main story

One thought on “Acadian Expulsion Essay Contest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *