August 10, 1755: The Expulsion of the Acadians Begins

The last century of horrors has tended to swallow up the memory of crimes prior to it, but the expulsion of the native French Canadiens from Acadia by the British, beginning on August 10, 1755, still stands out.  Acadia is now divided among the Candian provinces of Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.  The British acquired it by treaty from France in 1713 at the end of the War of the Spanish Succession.  The Acadians refused to take an unconditional oath to the British Crown and took a conditional oath that promised neutrality in any future wars between France and Britain.  Many Acadians violated this oath, conducting a low level guerilla war against the British when they were at war with France, a frequent occurrence in the Eighteenth Century.   British Governor Charles Lawrence began the expulsions at the onset of the French and Indian War.  The process continued until the end of the War.  Around 11, 500 of the Acadians were deported, some 2600 eluding the deportations.  Until 1758 the Acadians were deported to the 13 colonies, thereafter to Britain and France.  The Acadians in the locations that received them were met with indifference and hostility, and many perished.  (I would note with ancestral pride that an exception was Maryland where Irish Catholic Marylanders met the Acadian deportees with kindness.)  Many of the Acadians eventually made their way to French Louisiana where their descendants live on as Cajuns.

 

The Acadian expulsions were immortalized by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow with his poem Evangeline in 1863,  its opening lines familiar to generations of American schoolchildren: (more…)