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…)

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Published in: on August 10, 2017 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on August 10, 1755: The Expulsion of the Acadians Begins  
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Christmas Bells

One of my favorite Christmas carols has always been I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.   It is based on the poem Christmas Bells written  by poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on Christmas Day 1863.  Still devastated by the death of his wife in a fire in 1861, he had been rocked by news that his son Charles, serving as a lieutenant in the Union army, had been severely wounded at the battle of New Hope Church in November of 1863.  In a nation rent by civil war, along with his personal woes, one could perhaps understand if Longfellow had been deaf to the joy of Christmas that year. Instead, in his magnificent poem he relates how the Christmas message that God is with us can overcome all evil.  Having suffered a grave personal loss this year, the death of my son Larry on May 19, I can attest that the message of salvation and eternal life that Christmas brings has a special meaning to me this year. (more…)

Published in: on November 30, 2013 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Christmas Bells  
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Paul Revere’s Ride and the Civil War

A nice rendition of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.  The poem was published in January of 1861 on the eve of the Civil War which gives added meaning to the closing lines of the poem:

For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the
last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken
and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight
message of Paul Revere. (more…)

Published in: on April 18, 2013 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Paul Revere’s Ride and the Civil War  
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I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day

Something for the weekend.  The incomparable Johnny Cash singing the hymn I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day.  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the poem Christmas Bells on which the hymn is based  in 1863 in the midst of the Civil War, and this knowledge makes the lyrics even more poignant:

 I HEARD the bells on Christmas Day
    Their old, familiar carols play,
        And wild and sweet
        The words repeat
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And thought how, as the day had come,
    The belfries of all Christendom
        Had rolled along
        The unbroken song
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Till ringing, singing on its way,
    The world revolved from night to day,
        A voice, a chime,
        A chant sublime
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Then from each black, accursed mouth
    The cannon thundered in the South,
        And with the sound
        The carols drowned
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    It was as if an earthquake rent
    The hearth-stones of a continent,
        And made forlorn
        The households born
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And in despair I bowed my head;
    “There is no peace on earth,” I said;
        “For hate is strong,
        And mocks the song
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

    Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
    “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
        The Wrong shall fail,
        The Right prevail,
    With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

Published in: on December 5, 2009 at 6:54 am  Comments Off on I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day  
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