Deportation of the Acadia from the region of Nova Scotia
Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016
The deportation of the Acadia from the region of Nova Scotia was for military purposes. This was the main motive. Other motives were to have possession of the fertile land, live in peace instead of living with traitors, manage and possess the colony without French interference and ensure that the British citizens from New England could also occupy Nova Scotia. The French had lost the possession of Nova Scotia to the British after they had fought and there was a possibility of another war with the British so the British did not want Acadians to act as spies. Acadians lived in the coastal region of Canada where they used to be farmers. They reclaimed land from the sea and constructed dykes in order for their farming to succeed. They did this in a former colonies land and they could have moved from the land after the French colonization was replaced by the British.
The British wanted to manage the colony without the interference of the French. The conflicts between the French and the British colonies had begun to seal the fate of the Acadians. They spoke a French dialect referred to as Acadia French and their culture was that of the native French people. They were Catholics and when they arrived in this region, they interacted peacefully with the Mikmaq and like any other interaction between different communities; they had to learn the economic activities of the Mikmaq like fishing and hunting to supplement their farming. It’s through these activities that they earned a living in the area. Historians believe that the Acadians had occupied this region for a period of 80 years. Therefore, for the desire to rule the colony without any interference from the French led the British to collide with the Acadians and even expel them as they were collaborating with the French.
The British gained control of this region in the year 1710 and they did not feel happy when the Acadians supported the French colony. In an attempt, the British colony sought support from the Acadians and they did not succeed and slowly vowed to launch a massive revenge on these people who were traitors. The British tried to exercise control of the Acadians for almost a period of 40 years and they were losing because Acadians hated the British and if it were not for the British efforts, then they could have lost the conquest. During the French and the Indian wars, Acadians supported the French government and due to anger, the British warned them not to support the French but the Acadians especially in the area of Nova Scotia, resisted these calls. The British rule wanted the Acadians to sign oath of allegiance which was very unconditional. Acadians poised a great military threat to the British and sometimes launched operations to attack and kill the British. This also explains why the British wanted the Acadians out of their way, as they were a threat to them militarily.
In this paper, our crucial concern is the motives behind the deportation of the Acadians from the region which their forefathers had settled for decades. The British thought that the Acadians can be used by the French government to act as a trap to the British and lead a series of insurgences. The deportation is referred to as the Great Upheaval. The deportation process took place between 1755-1762.The tragic event of all time was started by British soldiers besieging and mercilessly attacking the Acadians. Their houses were burned and were stripped off all their belongings. Children suffered from hunger and men’s wives were raped and mistreated. The whole scenario was like hell on earth and the British wanted the Acadians to flee and leave the area without return. In Nova Scotia region, the Acadians had established a colony in the Bay of Fundy and build dykes to tap the sea tides. 1755, Lawrence persuaded the Acadians again to take an oath of allegiance to his leadership but they refused. Lawrence wondered how a race of people can refuse his orders and suspected that they were ready to assist the French in fighting him. Therefore, he imprisoned and killed others. The worst thing that called for the deportation is the outcome of the war between the French and the English forces that led to the fall of Fort Beausejour to the British. Lawrence in disbelief discovered that a number of approximately 200 Acadians had taken side with the French to defeat his army. Initially, the Acadians promised to be neutral in leadership and colonial matters of the region but their participation was to add an insult to an injury.
Colonel Winslow lit the fire in September 1955 by ordering all men from the age of 10 and over to assemble in the grand church to receive a message from Lawrence governor of Nova Scotia. The fateful decree stated that all their cattle, land, livestock, money, savings and household goods belonged to the British crown and they were to leave the area once and for all. Morris, a visitor from New England, came up with a plan to surround the churches on Sunday and capture the men. The men went without opposing, singing, crying and praying on the way. Winslow read the deportation order and was not happy of the decision to deport the Acadians from a land they had occupied for a long time. Even Lawrence became governor and found the Acadians in the very land, but because of fear and military strategies, he suggested that they better deport the Acadians who did not support him in the war against the French colony.
A group of Acadians resisted the deportation and guys like Joseph Brossard launched a raid in order to retaliate against the British forces. People ran to forests and British forces pursued them relentlessly. A total of 1500 Acadians fled to New France, Cape Breton and Petitcoudiac River in the upper region. In the bushes, Acadians faced hunger and almost 1650 died of diseases .Others drowned in the sea and a death rate of 53% was recorded. This was a fatalistic war and the British were right to chase Acadians because you cannot live with your enemy in the same house. The Acadia was forced to board ships heading to destinations they knew not. They got separated from loved ones like Evangeline of long fellow’s poem. Men were separated from their wives, wives from their men and children from their parents. 10000 Acadians were deported between 1755-1763.Acadians were taken to areas around Atlantic. English colonies received a large number of refugees un expectedly ,others to France and Caribbean .The English inhabitants in their colonies received disease ridden refugees who had no food, water or even shelter. The conditions in which they lived were devastating. The suffering and wandering could be compared to that experienced in the Second World War. Some Acadians settled in Louisiana. Although the British did not ship them to that area, historians claim that they were attracted by familiarity of the language. In this area, Acadians developed the Cajun culture which is even today existent. In Acadia, the land was occupied by New England settlers who practiced farming like the Acadians. We can suggest that because of the military reasons, Lawrence was led by his folly, greedy, fear and confusion to chase Acadians from their land ambitions. The deportation act was marred by violence and distress to stubborn Acadians Lawrence did not make a distinction between the peaceful and the rebels of the British government. He deported everyone in order to satisfy his military wishes because Acadians could prevent to be peaceful but attack him secretly. What fuelled the chaos is that the British government founded Halifax city in 1749 to compete with Louisburg, the admired fortress of Acadians. Halifax acted as a landing for the soldiers and new protestant colonists. The deployment of military men scared Acadians and fled to west side of Nova Scotia and Edward Island. Lawrence did not succeed in deporting Acadians blindly, but petitioned the colonies court who granted him permission to carry out his plan. Resistance is everywhere when it comes to deportation or relocation.
We shall discuss the resistance of Acadians to the deportation. Beausoleil played a vital role in leading the insurgency and earned a reputation. The French government supported the resistance and British were not happy Broussard brothers defended their rights but sometimes faced hardships. In 1757, Acadia insurgents defeated the British army in the battle of bloody creek. The water body in the province of Nova Scotia was filled by blood of British soldiers and thus earned the name “Bloody creek”. The French helped Acadians in that region because they were its people and had the same culture. A dispute then emerged over possession of Fort of Beausejour and at the time, Beausoleil was in war with the British soldiers and captured one of them. Thomas, a French officer, referred to him as a brave man who fought in the insurgency to ensure justice of the Acadia people. Brossard and his men killed and captured British on many occasions. They raided the coastal areas especially the ships. Acadia war men were confined in fort Lawrence in order to ensure peace. Brossard had been imprisoned with his men in 1755 in Fort Lawrence but escaped prison by digging an underground tunnel beneath the wall of the prison. They rushed and took their families and went to hide in the mountains and fought the British fearlessly until 1759.Many historians and professors have written brave accounts of the French insurgent and reputed him as a patriotic citizen. Brossard fought bravely but lost his mother and wife in the war.
Led by Major Scott, British managed to destroy Brossard village and killed many insurgents. At shediac, the British army went to search for Brossard and his men but they failed. On their way back, the insurgents waylaid and killed two soldiers. In 1758, British attacked the region of petitcoudiac and burned Acadia hamlets and women, children were killed. In this fight, Brossard was wounded and had to flee to Miramichi River to hide and get his wound healed. After the capture of Louisburg, Acadia insurgents almost lost hope in the fight because the supply of weapons was no more. Many Indians and Acadia died of starvation in the jails. In 1760, 900 Acadia insurgents surrendered to the British forces and assisted them with food and water and afterwards were imprisoned in Fort Cumberland. In the deportation process, the British lost its men and were troubled by Acadia. Many Acadia died in the mountainous regions during winter and this is what led them to surrender and accept imprisonment instead of dying of hunger. Jean Baptiste Beausoleil brother never surrendered like the others and was left with a son and daughter who survived the attacks on the mountains.
By 1960, General Lawrence had been dead and the Acadia still opposed being assimilated to the British civilization.1763 marked the end of French Indian war and Acadians requested the British government to allow them to sail to Saint Dominguez in Haiti. They used money earned from their labor and sold their possessions and because they still held hatred for the British decided not accept assimilation and in 1764, they left Halifax for the West Indies. Beausoleil and Alexander’s relatives settled in Saint Dominguez and because of disease and heat, many Acadia died in the island. Agnes, the wife of Beausoleil, died in the island. Over 1000 Acadia had left willingly the city of Halifax in the province of Nova Scotia which is today in the modern Canada. The Acadians sailed to New Orleans and then Louisiana, by then a French colony. The French officials honored Beausoleil as a brave person. General Lawrence and his successors never won the war to assimilate the Acadians and the Acadians due to the love they held for their language and culture, established Cajun culture in Louisiana.
The deportation had many negative effects and bloodshed was dominant in both sides of the British and Acadia. War between the French and Indians triggered the deportation and Lawrence did not make a mistake because the Acadians could act as snipers for the French. The deportation was necessary because Nova Scotia could have been used as a landing base for the French and overthrow the British from the region of Acadia. The war cost the British government many resources but it was better to expel them because if they did not expel them then Acadians could have led to the collapse of the British colony in Nova Scotia. Acadians helped the French to fight the British and wished that the French could regain the conquest
In conclusion, the tragic deportation by Lawrence was because of military purposes. British did not want Acadians to support the French war and this made them to find ways of deporting them. They feared the Acadians could be empowered by French government to overthrow their conquest. Acadians on the other hand opposed forced assimilation to British civilization and wanted to remain as French nationalities and speak and practice French culture and tradition. The motive of the British was good because you cannot live with betrayers in the same house, it is better to live alone and Acadians were deported because of their infidelity.
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