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    The Great Upheaval 

 

 

 

Acadians in Port Royal forced to evacuate

 

In the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, France ceded the portion of Acadia that is now Nova Scotia (minus Cape Breton Island) to the British for the last time. In 1754, the British government, no longer accepting the neutrality previously granted to the Acadians, demanded that they take an absolute oath of allegiance to the British monarch, which would require taking up arms. The Acadians did not want to take up arms against family members who were in French territory, and believed that the oath would compromise their Roman Catholic faith, and refused. Colonel Charles Lawrence ( 1709 - 1760 ) ordered the mass deportation of the Acadians, approximately three-quarters of their total population. In May 20, 1755 , the British attacked the French Fort Beauséjour during the beginnings of a major military offensive to gain greater control of the continent. Within the walls of the fort, 300 Acadians were found. Despite claims that they had been forced to take up arms against their will, the discovery completely eroded British trust of the Acadians.

 

 

 

 

 The Expulsion of the Acadians

 

In what is known as the Great Expulsion (le Grand Dérangement), more than 14,000 Acadians (three quarters of the Acadian population in Nova Scotia) were expelled, their homes burned and their lands confiscated. Families were split up, and the Acadians were dispersed throughout the British lands in North America; some were returned to France. Gradually, some managed to make their way to Louisiana, creating the Cajun population, while others returned to British North America, settling in coastal villages and in northern New Brunswick.

 

 

 The first documented arrival of Cajun refugees in Louisiana was in 1754. The migration from Canada was spurred by the Treaty of Paris (1763) which ended the war. The treaty terms provided 18 months for unrestrained emigration from Canada. Only after many of the Cajuns had moved to Louisiana did they discover France had secretly ceded Louisiana to Spain in the Treaty of Fontainebleau (1762). The formal announcement of the transfer was made in December 1764. The Cajuns took part in the Rebellion of 1768 in an attempt to prevent the transfer. The Spanish formally asserted control in 1769.

 

 

 Cajun song about the le Grand Dérangement

The Basin Brothers

 

The Acadians were scattered throughout the eastern seaboard. Families were split and put on ships with different destinations. Many ended up in what was then French-colonized Louisiana, reaching as far north as Dakota territory. France had ceded the colony to Spain in 1762, prior to their defeat by Britain, and two years before the first Acadians began settling in Louisiana. The interim French officials provided land and supplies. The Spanish governor, Bernardo de Galvez, later proved to be hospitable, permitting the Acadians to continue to speak their language, practice Roman Catholicism which was also the official religion of Spain and otherwise pursue their livelihoods with minimal interference. Some families and individuals did travel north through the Louisiana territory to set up homes as far north as Wisconsin.

 

The American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow memorialized the historic event in his poem about the plight of the fictional character Evangeline . A 1929 painting of Evangeline and Gabriel by Bayou Teche in St. Martinville. Evangeline waited in vain for Gabriel after the expulsion from Nova Scotia. They did not meet again until they were old.

 

A Great and Noble Scheme:

The Tragic Story of the Expulsion of the French

Acadians from Their American Homeland

Faragher relates, in all its complex, searingly sad details, the story of how the hapless French Acadians were run out of their Nova Scotia homes—a story known to most from Longfellow's Evangeline. Caught between French and British empires, these peaceful farming and fishing families, descendants of French settlers, struggled to maintain their neutrality and their birthright ways.

 

 

 

 

 

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