AS WE SAW THE ACADIANS IN 1743 (December 20/02)

One year after it was formed in 1878, the Nova Scotia Historical Society published the first collection of its papers. In the collection is a report written in 1743 with a detailed description of Nova Scotia, its geography and its people. The paper infers that the provincial authorities weren’t happy about the “Acadian situation.” Prepared by the Board of Trade, the paper states the government’s stand on the Acadians, in effect justifying the expulsion that would come 12 years later.

“It was provided by the Treaty of Utrecht,” the paper reads, “that the French Inhabitants of Nova Scotia should have a year allowed them to remove from thence with their effects, and such as remained beyond that time, which is long elapsed, were by the Treaty to become subjects to her said late majesty; but these People, being influenced by their Priests, did, till the year 1730, unanimously refuse to take the oath of allegiance to His Majesty, unless they might be allowed an exception in favor of France, which would have rendered their engagements ineffectual. And tho they have at last been prevailed upon to take the Oaths, they have done it with great Reluctance, and in all probability would join their Countrymen, in case of a French War against His Majesty’s subjects.”

In 1881 the Historical Society published volume two of their collections and again papers justifying the Acadian expulsion were included. One of the document, written in 1791, portrays the Acadians as warmongers. Keep in mind when reading the following excerpt from the document that while all Acadians are portrayed as hostile, in fact only a few conducted guerrilla warfare against the English.

“In the French War of 1744 they (the Acadians) joined the Indians in the attacks against the Inhabitants and garrisons of Annapolis Royal, and supplied the Indians with provisions: to this purpose they were instigated in some measure by the Governor and the Bishop of Quebec and their priests, who were indefatigable in poisoning their minds with dissatisfaction and enmity to the English.

“When the settlement was made at Halifax, in 1749, before the people had erected their huts, they, with their priests, excited the Indians to disturb the progress making in building the town, and twice within the space of two years the Indians, with one of the Acadians… at their head, attacked Dartmouth and put many people to death. The town of Halifax was palisaded to prevent their irruptions, and no person was in safety who ventured one mile from the town.

“From this time until the end of the year 1755 this country was kept in an uninterrupted state of war by the Acadians who, following the dictates of the Governors of Quebec and Cape Breton, to beak up the English settlements, excited and assisted the Indians to cut off all communications between Halifax and the different parts of the province.

“In the year 1755 when the French were driven by the English from Beausejour… six hundred French Acadians appeared in arms against the King’s troops. During all the time from 1749, and long before, these people were treated with the utmost lenity, and frequently called on to take the oath of allegiance – for no advantage could be expected from a country unpeopled – but every effort of this kind was in vain.”

 

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