WAS THE ACADIAN EXPULSION A LAND GRAB? (March 27/98)

“After the Acadians were expelled for refusing to swear allegiance to the Crown, the area in and around… was settled by the Planters,” begins one community history that I have in my bookcase. Other locally written histories hint at the same thing: That the Acadians were rebellious, untrustworthy and were expelled for refusing to recognize and swear loyalty to the king of England.

If you read history works compiled by expert researchers, you’ll discover that the Acadians have for the most part been falsely branded. While some undoubtedly were rebellious and some may have deserved expulsion, the truth is that the Acadians were victims of a massive land grab by New Englanders. Even though it has been passed on as a historical truth, it’s a myth that the main reason for the expulsion was refusal of the Acadians to take any sort of oath of allegiance.

With apologies for borrowing material from the work of recognized historians, the evidence to support this statement follows. If you have some preconceived notions about the Acadians and the expulsion, these extracts will be educational.

“On the day appointed (December 25, 1726) they (the Acadians) assembled at the ‘flag bastion’ in the fort and a translation of the oath into French having been read to them, the deputies requested that a clause should be inserted exempting them from bearing arms, and some words to that effect having been written on the margin, they took the oath.” – Calnek’s History of Annapolis County.

“Determined to win unconditionally where Armstrong had lost, (Governor ‘Richard) Philipps began carefully, late in 1729, to woo the Acadians to the British side. At Annapolis he apparently persuaded 194 persons to swear ‘on my faith as a Christian that I will be utterly loyal and will truly obey His Majesty King George the second, whom I recognize as the sovereign lord of Acadia or Nova Scotia.’ Nothing about exempting the Annapolis Acadians from possible military service was added to the oath either in writing or verbally… Philipps further reported that the oath had been subscribed to by all the Acadians of the colony.” – The Atlantic Region to Confederation, a collection of historical essays by various authors.

“As soon as Cornwallis assumed the reins of government in 1747, he demanded with military emphasis that the Acadians should now abandon their position and status as neutrals under the modified oath with which, for the sake of retaining them, Philipps had been content, and take a full and unqualified oath or leave the country.” – Calnek’s History of Annapolis County.

“The next day the Council (the Executive Council of the British province of Nova Scotia) informed the (Acadian) deputies that new representation of the French inhabitants would be summoned, given one more chance to take the unconditional oath, and if they refused to do so, ‘effectual measures ought to be taken to remove all such Recusants out of the Province.’ At this point the Acadians from Minas offered to take the oath required. The Council refused to administer it.” – The People of Canada, J. M. Bumsted.

“The Acadians had, as Mascarene testified, and as abundant evidence in the Provincial Archives proves, faithfully kept the terms of the qualified oath forced on them.” – Calnek’s History of Annapolis County.

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