Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Expulsion of the Acadians

Expulsion of the Acadians

The Wikipedia article below describes the Expulsion of the Acadians by the British. 

John Gregioire Bourgeois and his family must have been among some of the first of those expelled. He arrived in Boston in 1755. His father, arrived in Boston in 1763. 

Expulsion of the AcadiansFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Expulsion of the Acadians (also known as the Great Upheaval, the Great Expulsion, The Deportation, the Acadian Expulsion, Le Grand Dérangement) was the forced population transfer of the Acadian people from present day Canadian Maritime provinces — Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island (an area known as Acadie to the French). The Expulsion occurred during the French and Indian War. They were deported to other British colonies, Britain, and France, between 1755 and 1763.

Without making distinctions between the Acadians who had been peaceful and those who rebelled against the British occupation, the expulsion of all the Acadians was ordered by British governor Charles Lawrence and the Nova Scotia Council. It led to the deaths of thousands of Acadians. The Acadians were given a choice to either swear allegiance to England or be expelled. When they refused, the British forces deported them. 

Historical context:

The Acadian removal occurred during the French and Indian War, which was the fourth and final of the French and Indian Wars between the French and the English for hegemony of North America north of the Gulf of Mexico. After the initial Conquest of Acadia, during Queen Anne's War (War of the Spanish Succession), with the capture of Port Royal (see Siege of Port Royal (1710)), Catholic Acadians remained the dominant population in Acadia for the next fifty years. 

"French Neutrals"

The British, on various occasions, demanded the Acadians swear an oath of loyalty to the British Monarch. The Acadians either ignored these demands or attempted to negotiate the terms by asking that they be exempted from taking up arms against their former countrymen during any event of war between Britain and France. This stance lead to the Acadians becoming known at times as the "neutral French"."[1] In 1749, Governor Cornwallis again asked the Acadians to take the oath. Although unsuccessful, he took no drastic action. The following governor, Peregrine Hopson, continued the conciliatory policy for the Acadians.[2] 

Acadian and Mi'kmaq Armed Resistance
The Mi'kmaq and the Acadians were allies through their religious connection to Catholicism and through numerous inter-marriages. The Mi'kmaq held the military strength in Acadia even after the conquest of 1710. They primarily resisted the British occupation of Acadia and were joined in their efforts on numerous occasions by Acadians.

By the time of the Expulsion of the Acadians, there was already a long history of Acadian, Mi’kmaq and Maliseet resistance to the British occupation of Acadia - both politically and militarily.[3]

Before the defeat of the French in Acadia and the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, Acadians fought against the British occupation. While many traded with the New Englanders, they were unwilling to be ruled by them. During Queen Anne's War, Mi’kmaq and Acadians resisted during the Raid on Grand Pre, Piziquid and Beaubassin in 1704. Acadians joined French privateer Pierre Maisonnat dit Baptiste as crew members in his victories over many British vessels. The Acadians and Mi’kmaq were also successful in the Battle of Bloody Creek (1711).[4]

During the Maliseet-Mi'kmaw War, the Maliseet raided numerous vessels on the Bay of Fundy while the Mi'kmaq engaged in the Raid on Canso (1723). In the latter engagement, the Mi'kmaq were aided by Acadians.[5]

During King George's War, Abbe Jean-Louis Le Loutre led many of the Acadian and Mi’kmaq efforts against the British. They attempted numerous raids on Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia.[6] Le Loutre was also joined by prominent Acadian resistance leader Joseph Broussard (Beausoleil). Broussard and other Acadians were involved in supporting the French soldiers in the Battle of Grand Pre.

After the official War, the conflict continued. The Mi'kmaq attacked New England Rangers in the Battle at St. Croix. Upon the founding of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Broussard and the Mi'kmaq conducted numerous raids on the village to try to stop the Protestants migration into Nova Scotia. Similarly, Mi’kmaq, Acadians and Maliseet also engaged in numerous raids on Lunenburg, Nova Scotia to stop the migration, such as the Raid on Lunenburg (1756).[7] Le Loutre and Broussard also worked together to resist the British occupation of Beaubassin (1750) and then later they fought together with Acadians in the Battle of Beausejour (1755).[8]

While some Mi'kmaq of mixed French descent were deported to Massachusetts, most Mi'kmaq were not. They never agreed to cede any of their land. Instead, to dispossess them of their homeland, successive British governors issued proclamations offering bounties to colonial rangers for hunting, killing, and scalping Mi'kmaqs. Such proclamations were issued by Governors Paul Mascarene (and William Shirley of Massachusetts Bay) in 1744, by Edward Cornwallis in 1749, and by Charles Lawrence in 1756. By the time a lasting peace was concluded between the Mi'kmaq and British in 1761, the Mi'kmaq had been greatly reduced in numbers, and most of their territory had been seized by the wave of British immigration that began in 1749. Those Mi'kmaq who managed to elude the British provided crucial support to many refugee Acadians who were relatives. Soon after the British began to claim Acadians and Mi'kmaq as their subjects in 1713, the colonial authorities passed laws forbidding the groups to speak or intermarry, but they were not successful in keeping the populations separated.[9]

Acadian Political Resistance

Some Acadians' resistance is reflected in their unwillingness to sign an unconditional oath. Even after France conceded present day mainland Nova Scotia to the British in the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, Acadians resisted the British occupation politically by declaring themselves "neutral" rather than unconditional subjects of Britain (1730). Various historians have observed that, while many Acadians may have seemed "neutral", many were not.[10] From 1750-52, there was massive Acadian migration out of British occupied mainland Nova Scotia and into French occupied New Brunswick, PEI and Cape Breton. While some Acadians were forced to leave, for some Acadians their leaving British occupied territory for French occupied territory was an act of resistance to the British occupation.[11] Further, the Acadians maintained the essential supply line to Fortress Louisbourg and, in turn, the Mi'kmaq during the French and Indian War.

Because the Mi'kmaq would not declare themselves British subjects and used armed resistance against the British occupation and settlement of Acadia, numerous proclamations were issued by Governors Paul Mascarene (1744), by Edward Cornwallis (1749), and, during the Expulsion, by Charles Lawrence (1756). [12] 

Governor Charles Lawrence

When Charles Lawrence took over the post following Hopson’s return to England, he took a stronger stance. Fighting between the French and the English broke out in the Ohio River valley in 1754, signaling the beginning of the French and Indian War (and Seven Years' War in Europe). Lawrence's primary objectives in Acadia were to defeat the French fortifications at Beausejour and Louisbourg. 

He saw many Acadians as a military threat in their allegiance to the French and Mi'kmaq. Lawrence was also aware that the Acadians supplied Fortress Louisbourg, which, in turn, supplied the Mi'kmaq. Lawrence saw the need to both neutralize the Acadian military threat and choke off the supply lines the Acadians provided for Fortress Louisebourg.[13]Following the discovery of 300 Acadians at the French Fort Beauséjour when the English captured it in 1755, Lawrence made one last attempt to convince the Acadians to accept the oath.[14] They again refused to accept Lawrence’s terms. The Lieutenant Governor decided to deport the Acadians to various locations throughout the thirteen British North American colonies. Subsequent deportation saw Acadians sent to France and Britain. 


Acadians numbering in the thousands were deported from mainland Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The deportees frequently were held onboard ships for several weeks before being moved to their destinations, thus exacerbating unhealthy conditions below decks and leading to the deaths of hundreds. Many hundreds more were lost through ship sinkings and disease onboard ships while enroute to ports in Britains American colonies, Britain and France. Britain also broke apart families and sent them to different places. Their justification for this was to more efficiently put people on the boats. This resulted in more loss of life as families could not survive without essential members. It also caused the Acadians to become more rebellious against the English. 

After the fall of Fort Beausejour (1755), the first wave of the expulsion of the Acadians began. 

Grand Pre and Piziquid

After the Fall of Fort Beaujesour the situation continued to deteriorate for the Acadians leading to such acts by the British authorities of the confiscation of boats and guns from the inhabitants of Minas. Acadian delegates, who had been summoned to Halifax to present a petition and upon refusing to swear an unconditional oath, were imprisoned. The governor, Charles Lawrence, decided to settle the Acadian question once and for all. The Acadians were to be expelled from Nova Scotia and dispersed among the British colonies to the south, from Massachusetts to Georgia.

Lieutenant Colonel John Winslow arrived in Grand-Pré with troops on August 19, 1755 and took up headquarters in the church. The men and boys of the area were ordered there on September 5. Winslow informed them that all but their personal goods were to be forfeited to the Crown and that they and their families were to be deported as soon as ships arrived to take them away. At the exact same time, the Acadians in the neighbouring village of Piziquid were informed of the same declaration at Fort Edward (Nova Scotia).

Before the year was over, more than 6,000 Acadians were deported, not only from the Minas Basin area but from all of mainland Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Many villages were burned to the ground. Thousands more would be deported in the second wave of the Expulsion of the Acadians, which involved the deportation of the Acadians from Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island (1758). The deportation continued until England and France made peace in 1763. 

Annapolis Royal

The Acadians were also expelled from Annapolis Royal.[16] 
Ile St. Jean and Ile Royale
The second wave the of the Deportation began in 1758. With the defeat at the Siege of Louisbourg (1758), thousands of Acadians were deported from Prince Edward Island and Cape Breton. The single largest number of deaths during the Deportation happened with the sinking of the Duke William. 
New Brunswick

Many Acadians had tried to escape the Expulsion by retreating to St. John River, New Brunswick. The British cleared the Acadians from the area in the St. John River Campaign.

There were approximately 23,000 Acadians before the deportation according to provincial records, but based on British records, only an estimated 10,000 survived. Approximately 5,000 to 6,000 Acadians escaped to Quebec, hid among the Mi'kmaq, or were able to hide in the countryside and avoid deportation until the situation settled down.[17] 
Acadian and Mi’kmaq Resistance

With the Expulsion of the Acadians during the French and Indian War, the Mi’kmaq and Acadian resistance intensified. The Acadians and Mi’kmaq again engaged victoriously in the Battle of Petitcodiac (1755) and the Battle of Bloody Creek (1757).[18] Acadians who were being deported from Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia on the ship Pembroke defeated the British crew and sailed to land. There was also resistance during the St. John River Campaign.[19] 
British Colonies 

The British governor of Nova Scotia, Charles Lawrence was a key orchestrator of le Grand Dérangement. The Deportation was to involve sending Acadians from the colony and dispersing them amongst the thirteen others from Massachusetts to Georgia.[21] The Acadians had no knowledge of these intended destinations when they were deported that October of 1755. In a correspondence Lawrence wrote that the Acadians must “be kept in the dark as to their destination.” [22] The British feared a dispersal of Acadians that would strengthen the populations of other French possessions in the maritimes such as Louisbourg or Ile Saint-Jean. Despite claims that the Acadians would be considered officially French “prisoners of war” and “Subjects of the King of France,” promises that they were to be sent to France were mere fabrications.[23] Lawrence fostered plans which today would be considered ethnic cleansing. In a speech he gave to his council he planned to “divide [the Acadians] among the colonies…as they cannot easily collect themselves together again.”[24]

The colonies were required to provide shelter and food for the deportees. Each colony handled the situation differently, and due to legislation passed in some colonies, the Acadians' children were treated as orphans and lodged in the homes of family's willing to provide for them.[25] These children gained better prospects of actually surviving once removed to Protestant colonial families, but their cultural assimilation was almost certain. These children and their families were the victims of an ethnic cleansing attempt at elimination of the Acadian ethnicity through coercive assimilation. Even today, many of their Acadian descendants bear Anglo-American adopted names, and remain in the same regions, oblivious to their true heritage.[26] 


The deportees in Maryland received the best treatment of those deported in part due to the Acadians' shared religion with the colonists of Maryland.[27]. In Maryland fellow Catholics from Ireland greeted over 900 Acadian deportees.[28] The local newspaper requested the Acadians be shown “Christian charity.” The charity was intended as private aid and no government sanctioned relief was offered.[29] The Acadians in Maryland tended to fare well in relation to their kin in the other colonies with a substantial portion of them residing in a Baltimore suburb known as Frenchtown.[30] Yet, even in Catholic Maryland private charity was inadequate and some groups went without shelter. Less than a year after le Grand Dérangement, legislation was passed in Maryland, which authorized the imprisonment of homeless Acadians and the “binding out” of their children to other families.[31] 


Approximately one thousand exiles were disembarked in Massachusetts.[32] Some of these were from vessels bound for South Carolina which were forced into Boston due to storms and their sorry state of insufficient food, overcrowding, and polluted water.[33] Many of these Acadians, however, had wandered in on a fugitive trek in an attempt to find their native land or their separated families.[34] In response, the Massachusetts government issued severe penalties for vagabond Acadians, which included imprisonment, fining, and public whipping of both men and women. Here, as in the other colonies, children were stripped from their families. For Acadians who chose to remain in the districts of Massachusetts to which they had been distributed by the local government, housing and food would be provided at public expense, but they were expected to be able to support themselves within the year.[35] 


To some colonies no warning was given of the hundreds of destitute Acadians which would suddenly appear.[36] Others received warning, but Connecticut was the only one to have made preparations for any sort of reception.[37] Like Maryland, the people of Connecticut made attempts at goodwill, and the legislature declared that “[the Acadians] be made welcome, helped and settled under the most advantageous conditions, or if they have to be sent away, measures be taken for their transfer.”[38] Connecticut followed Massachusetts’ lead in enacting legislation forbidding itinerant Acadians.[39] The Acadians suffered from forced servitude, loss of religious freedom, separation of families, and the inability to leave their designated locations under pain of heavy penalties. All of this has led at least one scholar to describe their state as “the worst type of slavery imaginable.”[40] 

Pennsylvania and Virginia

In colonies such as Pennsylvania the exiles were refused permission to land and were forced to remain on their vessels for months. Before they were finally allowed off their ships, many were already dead or dying from disease, and they faced the same harsh treatment as Acadians in the other colonies. Likewise, Virginia refused to accept the Acadians on grounds that no notice was given of their arrival.[41] They were never given permission to land. The Virginians considered them a nuisance and ultimately had them sent to England as prisoners of war.[42] 

Carolinas and Georgia

Some colonies allowed only the first ships to disembark, while forcing the other ships to continue southward.[43] As a result, a large number of Acadians descended upon the southern colonies of the Carolinas and Georgia. Lawrence intended some Acadians to be sent south, notably those of the Beaubassin region since they were “guilty of rebellion” due to their reluctant defense of Fort Beausejour.[44] Yet, it was only these “special prisoners” sent in shackles that were meant to be sent so far south.[45] Despite this, about a third of the exiles of 1755 found their way to South Carolina.[46] The governments of these colonies eventually allowed the Acadians to land. In Georgia the governor at first officially refused to allow their disembarkation, but he was ignored.[47] These Acadians were “subsidized” and put to work on plantations along with slaves.[48]

We learn from an Army Chaplain by the name of Father Robin that memories which he recalled of l’Acadie were “too dearly vivid, and [the Acadians] burst into tears.”[49] The Acadians who arrived in the most southern colonies, however, found the least difficulty in attempting to return to Acadia. In Georgia and the Carolinas they found governors with little desire to deal with them. Under the leadership of Jacques Maurice Vigneau of Baie Verte, the majority of the Acadians in Georgia received a passport from the governor.[50] Without such passports travel between borders was not allowed.[51] The governors of these southern colonies, so removed from the struggle with the French in Canada, most likely felt as though they were shouldering the burden of Lawrence’s problem. Thus, it is unsurprising they were so willing to issue passports. As soon as the Acadians from Georgia made it to the Carolinas bearing a passport, the governor there realized the solution to his own problem. He quickly followed suit in delivering passports to the Acadians in his own colony.[52] Along with these issuances the Acadians were given two vessels, which were hardly seaworthy.[53] This does not necessarily entail a gesture of goodwill on behalf of the colonies or intent to have the Acadians sent back to Acadia, but it represented a strong desire to have them gone. After running aground numerous times in the faulty ships followed by work, some Acadians did make it back to the Bay of Fundy.[54] Along the way many were captured, despite their legitimate passports, and were imprisoned.[55] Of those who made it to Acadia only 900 remained, less than half who had begun the voyage.[56]

These were not the only Acadians to find their way back home. We read in the South Carolina Gazette that in February about thirty Acadians fled the island to which they were confined and escaped their pursuers.[57] The “special prisoners” sent in chains to the Carolinas were unlikely to be granted permission to leave as the other Acadians would a few months later; and this refusal perhaps forced them to such desperate measure. Alexandre Broussard, brother of the famed resistance leader Joseph Broussard, dit Beausoleil, was among these Acadians.[58] About a dozen are recorded to have returned to Acadia after an incredible overland journey of 1,400 leagues.[59] Such Acadians returning to the homeland are exceptions and represent an exceedingly small number. The majority of Acadians would find such returns impossible to attempt. 

France and England

The Acadians who found themselves back in the Old World hardly fared better than their kin in North America. In fact, many deported to France never reached their destination. Three hundred and sixty died when the transport ship Duke William sank as did the Violet and Ruby in 1758 en route from Île St.-Jean to France.[60]

About 3,000 eventually gathered in France’s port cities, many wound up in Nantes.[61] Of these, 2,000 had been sent directly from Nova Scotia by Charles Lawrence.

The others were those unlucky Acadians sent to Britain by the Virginians as prisoners of war. Due to lack of preparation on the part of the British government these Acadians were required to wait three days on wharves with no shelter during the winter.[62] They were then distributed to districts in segregated quarters in cities along England’s coast.[63] These prisoners were eventually repatriated through the work of France’s minister to England, Louis Jules Mancini Mazarini, Duke of Nivernais, Grandee of Spain, Knight of the King, and Peer of France. When the Duke first encountered the Acadian prisoners he found them to be aloof and distrustful. Yet, realizing that “their loyalty [was] only equaled by their suffering for their country” he considered it his duty to rescue them.[64] Unfortunately, the Acadians in England had heard rumors that the exiles sent directly to France were ignored and allowed to starve at the docks. So, despite their staunch patriotism, the Acadians fell victim to propaganda and at first feared to return to France.[65]
Once in France, the Acadians soon began to discover their fear of being treated poorly by the motherland was being realized.[66] Many plans were proposed concerning the Acadian question, but most were simply schemes to get them out of France, in which they would be subjected to “high rents, sterile lands, and unhealthy climates.”[67] The Caribbean possessions were unfit colonies for the Acadians given the overwhelming presence of landed plantation owners. These colonies could spare no land for the poor Acadian yeomen.[68] After a failed attempt at colonizing the Falkland Islands, these Acadians were eventually given barren land in France to colonize.[69] This land, named by them La Grand’ Ligne, or the King’s Highway, gave no harvest for two years. The failure of their colony, Poitou, “threw the Acadians of France into a state of idleness, discouragement, and uncertainty.”[70]
Following the Treaty of Paris 1763 many Acadians were repatriated in Belle Ile de Mer exchanged by the French for Nova Scotia; their descendants today occupy this idyllic island community off the western coast of Brittany. 


These, and many other Acadians, would find themselves welcome in Louisiana which was then owned by Spain.[71] Though no Acadians were sent directly to Louisiana by Lawrence, many did make their way there.[72] The transfer of Louisiana to the Spanish government was done secretly in 1762.[73] As a result of this secrecy, many falsely believed they were relocating to a colony under the dominion of France.[74] Regardless, the Acadians were allowed to continue their lives with little change once there. Some names were changed to Spanish, and French priests were replaced with Spanish Capucins, but the good relations between the two nations, and their common Catholic religion resulted in many Acadians choosing to take oaths of allegiance to the new government.[75] Soon the Acadians comprised the largest ethnic group within Louisiana.[76] Over 200 years after the expulsion from Nova Scotia, there live more than 400,000 descendants of the Acadians in Louisiana.[77] There are many Acadian descendants scattered throughout the globe, but it is that area of Louisiana now known as Acadiana where we find one of the largest collections of Acadians to have managed to maintain their national and cultural identity.[78]

Over the next several decades, many other Acadians moved down the North American east coast, landing temporarily in New England, the Carolinas and other ports, with a large number eventually settling in Louisiana, then controlled by Spain. Spanish authorities welcomed the Catholic Acadians as settlers, first in areas along the Mississippi River, then later in the Atchafalaya Basin and in the prairie lands to the west, a region later renamed Acadiana. During the 19th century, as Acadians reestablished their culture, "Acadian" was elided locally into "Cajun." 

New Brunswick

Not all Acadians were deported by the British. A large number of Acadians fled overland, aided by their Mi'kmaq allies, and resettled in the colonies of New France, present-day Québec and New Brunswick. There was also a small guerrilla resistance led by Joseph Broussard, known as "Beausoleil". Others returned and settled in the region of Fort Sainte-Anne, now Fredericton, and were displaced again by the arrival of Loyalists during and after the American Revolution. In 1785 they created the first colony in the Upper Saint John River valley, near what is now Edmundston.

Many of the deportees succumbed to disease after their removal from Nova Scotia and southeastern New Brunswick. When the vessels carrying the Acadians to Philadelphia reached Delaware in November 1755, it was discovered that smallpox had broken out among them. Many subsequently perished, despite efforts of local Quakers to assist.[79] An outbreak of smallpox also claimed some of those who found refuge at Quebec, then still under French rule. Those who went to the West Indies, in particular, suffered from the change in climate and endemic infectious disease, and many died of fever.[80].

The British burned the homes and farms around the Bay of Fundy and in the St. John River Campaign. Acadian lands initially remained devoid of white settlement owing to the dangers of frontier conflict during the Seven Years War, but beginning in 1760, most former Acadian farms were resettled by English-speaking Protestant colonists, largely New England planters and in other locations by Highland Scots emigrating as a result of the Highland Clearances. However beginning in the 1770s, many Acadians were encouraged to return through the policies of Nova Scotia Governor Michael Francklin who guaranteed Catholic worship, land grants and issued a promise that there would be no second expulsion.[81] However the most fertile Acadian lands had been settled by New England planters and returning Acadians had to settle in other parts of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick creating islands of largely French-speaking communities, such as Chéticamp where some descendants intermingled with those of the Scots migration.


American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow published a long, narrative poem about the plight of the Acadians called Evangeline in 1847.[82] The Evangeline Oak is a tourist attraction in Louisiana.

The song "Acadian Driftwood", recorded in 1975 by The Band, portrays the Great Upheaval and the displacement of the Acadian people.

The author Antonine Maillet wrote a novel about the aftermath of the Great Upheaval, Pélagie-la-Charrette. The novel was awarded the Prix Goncourt in 1979.

Grand-Pré Park, situated in present-day Grand-Pré, Nova Scotia is now a National Historic Site of Canada. It has been preserved as a living monument to the Expulsion, complete with a memorial church and a statue of Evangeline, the subject and title of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's stirring poem on the experience.

In December 2003, Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, representing Canada's Monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, declared the Crown's acknowledgement of (but did not apologise for) the Expulsion. She designated July 28 as "A Day of Commemoration of the Great Upheaval." This proclamation, often referred to as the Royal Proclamation of 2003, closed one of the longest open cases in the history of the British courts, initiated when the Acadian representatives first presented their grievances of forced dispossession of land, property and livestock in 1760.

There remain in Nova Scotia a number of villages that have retained their original Acadian names, such as Noel, Nova Scotia.

December 13, the day the Duke William sank during the Expulsion, is commemorated every year as the Acadian Rememberance Day


^ Governor Reynolds’ passport states, “These are to Certify whom it may Concern that the Bearer Jacques Morrice [Vigneau] hath behaved himself very well during all the time of his Residence in His Majesty’s Colony of Georgia under my Government (which hath been near four Months). I have been well informed that he always shewed great regard for the English by Saving them frequently from being scalped in Nova Scotia, where he was worth a great deal of Money before he was reduced. And he hath my leave to depart from the Province of Georgia with his Family.” (Faragher 386)

Described by General Papuchon, “The region was never specially fertile. It was always known under the name of Des Gâtines, that is, the badlands. Elsewhere it is called Grande Gâtine, or Gâtine Oriental, denoting the area of the plateau between La Puye and Saint Pierre-de-Maillé. The Acadian colony of Poitou was situated in la Petite Gâtine, which was once covered by an immense forest, known as Noah’s Forest in the bad lands. The whole area was wasteland.” (Winzerling 75)

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