The French and Indian War: British Expulsion of the Acadians (1755)


Figure 1.--The French prevailed in the early battles of the French and Indian War fought in the interior of the continent. The British were more effective in coastal actions where they could be supported by the Royal Navy. One of the best known tragedies of the War, largely because of a Longfellow poem, was the British expulsion of the Acadians (1755).

The French prevailed in the early battles of the French and Indian War fought in the interior of the continent. The British were more effective in coastal actions where they could be supported by the Royal Navy. One of the best known tragedies of the War, largely because of a Longfellow poem, was the British expulsion of the Acadians (1755). The French colony of Acadia was primarily made up of modern Nova Scotia, but included Prince Edward Island and mainland coast south of the St. Lawrence River south into Maine. The principal town was Port Royal which was founded in 1605 before any of the English colonies to the south. Port Royal was taken by the British (1710). With the outbreak of hostilities with the French, the Britiosh sought to secure their hold on coastal strongpoints. French settlers who refused to swear allegience to the British crown were deported. Many were shipped to Caribbean Islands. Others made their way to New Orleans, at the tome a Spanish outpost. Louisiana Cajuns are descendents of the Acadians. Longfellow's great poem "Evageline tells the story of one Cajun community--St. Martiville, Louisiana. The Louisiana Cajuns were part of the force that General Andrew Jackson assemled to defeat a sizeable British invasion force trying to seize New Orleans (1815). The British attempted another mass expulsion (1762), but were twarted. After the War, some Acadians managed to return. In modern Canada, the term Acadian meads inhabitants of the Maritime Provinces.

New France: Canada

King Francis dispatched Jacques Cartier on another voyage (1534). Cartier did not explore new lands, but subitted a much more detailed report and focused on what was to prove the mouth of the St. Larence River. The first European penetration of the interior began through the St. Lawrence River was begun by Cartier the following year (1535).

Acadia

Champlain aboard the "Sieur de Mont" landed at modern Acadia National Park in Maine before going east to Port Royal (1604). The French established a fort (1605). Within 2 years French settlers arrived. Champlain went on o found Québec (1608). The Maritime Provinces of Canada, where many French settled, was named "Arcadia" by Giovanni da Verrazzano, the explorer. The Arcadia district in Ancient Greece had the meanings of Refuge or idyllic place. In the 1600s Samuel de Champlain, the French explorer, spelled Arcadia without the "r", thus establishing the place name as Acadia; it's French inhabitants were thus known as Acadians. The French colony of Acadia was part of New France or Canada. They lived along the Bay of Fundy, primarily at Grand Pré. The colonuy was primarily made up of modern Nova Scotia, but included Prince Edward Island and mainland coast south of the St. Lawrence River south into Maine. The principal town was Port Royal which was founded before any of the English colonies to the south. Acadia was a quiet country people by farmers, shepards, and fishermen. Poussin painted a fabulous painting "The Shepherds from Acadia". They developed good relations with the Mi'kmaq, learning from them hunting and fishing techniques. The French lived mainly on coastal lands reclaimed by diking. Most were small farmers. Many were more willing than the English settlers to the South to live with Native Americans. The French settlers or Acadians lived on the frontier between territories of two great world powers, Britain and France. Inevitably, the Acadians found themselves caught up in the power struggle between those two nations. Acadia often passed from one side to the other, and the Acadians survived by remaining neutral, refusing to shoulder arms against either side.

War of the Spanish Sucession (1701-14)

The last of Louis XIV's wars was the War of the Spanish succession (1701-14). Port Royal was taken by the British (1710). The Treaty of Utrecht ended the figting between the British and French (1713). France ceded to Britain the part of Acadia now known as Nova Scotia, except for Cape Breton Island. In 1730 the Acadians signed an oath swearing loyalty to the British crown with the provision that they would not be required to take up arms against the French or the Indians.

French and Indian War

Tensions between the British and the French, first in the Ohio country (1754) and later in Acadia, would make the policy of neutrality untenable. The French and Indian War, as it is known in North America began in the Ohio Valey, ironcically with a British forced led by George Washington leading Virginia militiamen. The British Governor of Nova Scotia, Charles Lawrence, had doubts about the Acadians' neutrality in the conflict. The British demanded of the Acadians an oath of absolute loyalty to the British crown, which would mean their taking up arms against the French and the Indians (1754). The French prevailed in the early battles of the French and Indian War fought in the interior of the continent. The British were more effective in coastal actions where they could be supported by the Royal Navy. Here along the coast, the Acadians would suffer the consequences. The French built a massive fort at Louisbourg. It was a threat to the developing English colonies to the south. With the outbreak of hostilities with the French, the British sought to secure their hold on coastal strongpoints. Louisbourg became a principal objective. When it fell, the British controlled all of the Maritimes.

Expulsion (1755)

One of the best known tragedies of the War, largely because of a Longfellow poem, was the British expulsion of the Acadians (1755). The British deported the Acadians or French settlers who refused to swear allegience to the British crown. The main reason the British deported the Acadians in 1755 and not Québécois in 1763 was the fact that Acadians refused to pledge allegiance to the British Crown after the fall of Louisbourg. Why did the British hand the Acadians this ultimatum? The Acadians had maintained strict neutrality for decades as a modus vivendi between two warring powers. Why should they abandon a policy that had worked so well. An oath of absolute loyalty to the British crown to the Acadians would be a betrayal of their Roman Catholic faith. Knowing that the Acadians would never cede to this demand, did the British set the Acadians up for what we call today "ethnic cleansing"? Once the Acadians were removed from Nova Scotia, the British could consolidate their power in the Atlantic Maritime region and establish a position of power in North America. Or, did the British strike pre-emptively, removing a potential adversary before it could do them harm? This fortress at Louisbourg was a threat to the English colonies in New England . The potentially disloyal surronding population represented a continuing threat. The action was overseen by Governor Charles Lawrence. In what is called the Great Expulsion (or Le Grand Derangement) of 1755 - 1763 more than 14,000 Acadians were expelled, their homes burned, and their land confiscated.

Deportation

Families were split up, and the Acadians were displaced throughout British lands in North America and the Caribbean. Thousands more were sent to France. The deportees were held on prison ships for several weeks befoe being moved to their destinations. Hundreds died on the prison ships and thousands more died before reaching their destinations or in harsh winter conditions during their displacement. Of some 23,000 Acadians who lived in North America before the expulsion, only 10,000 survived epulsion.

Caribbean

The British shipped many Acadians to the British Caribbean Islands.

Louisiana Cajuns

Others Acadians made their way to New Orleans, at the time a Spanish outpost. Many Acadians who were deported to France did not feel that France was their home. Many lived for years in poverty there until the opportunity to go to Louisiana arose. While now Spanish, Louisiana before the French and Indian war had been French. After years of preparations, Spain paid for more than 1,600 Acadians to travel from France to Louisiana, which was now a Spanish colony. As a result of the War of the Spanish Sucession, a Bourbon was placed on the Spanisg Crown. As a result, until the French Revolution the Spanish and French were often united against the British.Some Acadian exiles had already made their way to Louisiana , believing that it was still French, only to discover upon their arrival that it belonged to Spain. Although the Spanish treated the Acadians quite generously, allowing them to speak French and to practice Roman Catholicism, many Acadians felt abandoned by France. The Spanish wanted the Acadians to move to Louisiana which had only a small population. The Spanish believed that a larger Catholic population and settlement would protect against an English invasion. The journey to Louisiana was arduous. There were outbreaks of smallpox aboard some ships. Many who arrived safely in New Orleans took about a month to recuperate. The Acadians had wanted to settle around the Mississippi River where many had relatives. They found, however, that the best lands had already been taken, and they migrated to what is now southwestern Louisiana, where good land was available. About 22 parishes in this section of Louisana form a triangle which is known today as the "Acadian triangle". Louisiana Cajuns today are thus descendents of the French Acadians. Longfellow's great poem "Evageline tells the story of one Cajun community--St. Martiville, Louisiana. The Louisiana Cajuns were part of the force that General Andrew Jackson assembled to defeat a sizeable British invasion force trying to seize New Orleans (1815). Where does the name "Cajun" originate? Acadian would by fropping the "A" be elided into "Cajun". During the 18th and 19th centuries, "Cajuns" came to be identified as the French-speaking people of rural southwestern Louisiana. The descendants of these rural people became the working class of their region. Changes in social and economic circumstances of these families created a nostalgia for a romanticized version of the past. "Cajun" once was considered an insulting term, but today it is a term of pride among many in Louisiana. The mascot for the University of Louisiana-Lafayette sports teams is the "Ragin' Cajuns"!

Quebec (1759)

The Acadians were not as well organised as the French community in Québec in Signories. When Wolfe came down the the St. Lawrence River before the battle of Québec in 1759, he was surprised to see a socio-political organization with a powerful clergy who discussed the future of the colony with the English. A Canadian reader tells us, People here were disciplined and obeyed the clergy. For more than two centuries, the real leaders in Quebec were the bishops. Today, religion is disappearing maybe for that main reason we lived in a theocraty for long. Too long. But thnks to them if we still speak French."

Second Expulsion (1762)

The British attempted another mass expulsion (1762), but were twarted.

Return

After the War, some Acadians managed to return. Many Acadians came back and settled in Quebec but mostly in the north of New Brunswick (Madawaska), the eastern coast , Les Iles de la madeleine in the Gulf of st-Lawrence, small parts of Prince Edward Island (Mont carmel) and the western coast of Cap Breton Island (Cheticamp). Something less of the modern local population are descendents of the original Acaduans and speak French.

Modern Term

In modern Canada, the term Acadian meads inhabitants of the Maritime Provinces.







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Created: 4:28 AM 1/26/2006
Last updated: 6:13 AM 11/27/2011