The Acadians

Although imperial rivalry between France and Britain set the stage for conflict was precipitated by a local event, the so called Jumonville Affaire, when a group of English soldiers led by George Washington assassinated a group of French soldiers who tried to dissuade by peaceful means the Americans to withdraw from the territory the French claimed as their own. With month the two largest empires were at was in North America, on the oceans, and in Europe.

The Acadians were the first to suffer the consequences. Acadia was a vas vast territory which is known today as New Scotia, New Brunswick, the state of Maine and few islands and other lands. Although conquered in 1710 by the British, Acadia attracted no English settlers. Almost all Acadians were of French origin, they retained their traditions and were considered as the most peaceful and calm people in North America.

They fought against nobody, were deeply religious and farmed their lands. When war broke out in 1754, Nova Scotia’s Governor, Charles Lawrence, ordered the Acadians to swear allegiance to the British crown.

The Acadians refused to do so. They didn’t want to have to fight for the English, and oath implied taking up arms against the French. Besides, being good Catholics, they couldn’t swear allegiance to a Protestant leader. Governor Lawrence ordered their deportation. As a cause he claimed, the Acadians helped Micmac Indians who were French allies, to launch a few raids against the British colonists. Besides, dozens of Acadians were found at the French forts Beausejour and Gasperau after they had capitulated. Reality was simple.

New Englanders demanded more lands, thus the Acadians became a nuisance. More than 10 000 people were herded onto ships and dispersed among the thirteen colonies. Family separation, loss of property and hate for the English for the centuries to come was an evident result. After the Seven Years’ war was over, the Acadians were granted permission to go back, but most of them sought refuge in Louisiana or in Quebec and never came back.

Final note:  The pioneer Acadian Christmas feast was “Gateau”, a huge, rich, flaky crusted rabbits, birds and pork.

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