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- The Acadian Exiles - 10/21 -

Captain Howe, one of the British officers, by some of Le Loutre's Micmacs. It was stated that Le Loutre was personally implicated in the crime, but there appears not the slightest foundation for this charge. One morning in October Howe saw an Indian carrying a flag of truce on the opposite side of the Missaguash river, which lay between Fort Lawrence and Fort Beausejour. Howe, who had often held converse with the savages, went forward to meet the Indian, and the two soon became engaged in conversation. Suddenly the Indian lowered his flag, a body of savages concealed behind a dike opened fire, and Howe fell, mortally wounded. In the work of bringing the dying officer into the fort ten of his company also fell.

Meanwhile an event occurred which seemed likely to promote more cordial relations between the French and the English. Early in October Des Herbiers returned to Halifax thirty- seven prisoners, including six women, who had been captured by the Indians but ransomed and sent to Louisbourg by the Abbe Le Loutre. It is difficult to reconcile the conduct of the meddlesome missionary on this occasion with what we know of his character. He was possessed of an inveterate hatred of the English and all their works; yet he was capable of an act of humanity towards them. After all, it may be that generosity was not foreign to the nature of this fanatical French patriot. Cornwallis was grateful, and cheerfully refunded the amount of the ransom. [Footnote: Des Herbiers to Cornwallis, October 2, 1750.--Public Archives, Canada. Nova Scotia A, vol. xxxix, p. 13.]

But the harmony existing between Des Herbiers and Cornwallis was of short duration. In the same month the British sloop Albany, commanded by Captain Rous, fell on the French brigantine St Francois, Captain Vergor, on the southern coast. Vergor, who was carrying stores and ammunition to Louisbourg, ran up his colours, but after a fight of three hours he was forced by Rous to surrender. The captive ship was taken to Halifax and there condemned as a prize, the cargo being considered contraband of war. La Jonquiere addressed a peremptory letter to Cornwallis, demanding whether he was acting under orders in seizing a French vessel in French territory. He likewise instructed Des Herbiers to seize ships of the enemy; and as a result four prizes were sold by the Admiralty Court at Louisbourg.

Open hostilities soon became the order of the day. During the winter a party of Canadians and Indians and Acadians disguised as Indians assembled near Fort Lawrence. They succeeded in killing two men, and continued to fire on the British position for two days. But, as the garrison remained within the shelter of the walls, the attackers grew weary of wasting ammunition and withdrew to harry the settlement at Halifax. According to the French accounts, these savages killed thirty persons on the outskirts of Halifax in the spring of 1751, and Cornwallis reported that four inhabitants and six soldiers had been taken prisoners. Then in June three hundred British troops from Fort Lawrence invaded the French territory to attempt a surprise. They were discovered, however, and St Ours, who had succeeded La Corne, brought out his forces and drove them back to Fort Lawrence. A month later the British made another attack and destroyed a dike, flooding the lands of the Acadians in its neighbourhood.

And during all this time England and France were theoretically at peace. Their commissioners sat in Paris, La Galissoniere on one side, Shirley on the other, piling up mountains of argument as to the 'ancient boundaries' of Acadia. All to no purpose; for neither nation could afford to recede from its position. It was a question for the last argument of kings. Meanwhile the officials in the colonies anxiously waited for the decision; and the poor Acadians, torn between the hostile camps, and many of them now homeless, waited too.



The years 1752 and 1753 were, on the whole, years of peace and quiet. This was largely due to changes in the administration on both sides. At the end of 1751 the Count de Raymond had replaced Des Herbiers as governor of Ile Royale; in 1752 Duquesne succeeded La Jonquiere at Quebec as governor of New France; and Peregrine Hopson took the place of Cornwallis in the government of Nova Scotia. Hopson adopted a policy of conciliation. When the crew of a New England schooner in the summer of 1752 killed an Indian lad and two girls whom they had enticed on board, Hopson promptly offered a reward for the capture of the culprits. He treated the Indians with such consistent kindness that he was able in the month of September to form an alliance with the Micmacs on the coast. He established friendly relations also with Duquesne and Raymond, and arranged with them a cartel of exchange regarding deserters.

Towards the Acadians Hopson seemed most sympathetic. From the experience of Cornwallis he knew, of course, their aversion to the oath of allegiance. In writing to the Lords of Trade for instructions he pointed out the obstinacy of the people on this question, but made it clear how necessary their presence was to the welfare of the province. Meanwhile he did his best to conciliate them. When complaints were made that Captain Hamilton, a British officer, had carried off some of their cattle, Hamilton was reprimanded and the cattle were paid for. Instructions were then issued to all officers to treat the Acadians as British subjects, and to take nothing from them by force. Should the people refuse to comply with any just demand, the officer must report it to the governor and await his orders. When the Acadians provided wood for the garrison, certificates must be issued which should entitle them to payment.

The political horizon at the opening of the year 1753 seemed bright to Hopson. But in the spring a most painful occurrence threatened for a time to involve him in an Indian war. Two men, Connor and Grace, while cruising off the coast, had landed at Ile Dore, and with the assistance of their ruffianly crew had plundered an Indian storehouse. They were overtaken by a storm, their schooner became a total wreck, and Connor and Grace alone survived. They were rescued by the Indians, who cared for them and gave them shelter. But the miserable cowards seized a favourable moment to murder and scalp their benefactors. Well satisfied with their brutal act, they proceeded to Halifax with the ghastly trophies, and boldly demanded payment for the scalps of two men, three women, and two children. Their story seemed so improbable that the Council ordered them to give security to appear in the court at the next general session. [Footnote: Hopson to Lords of Trade, April 30, 1753, p. 30. Deposition of Connor and Grace, April 16, 1753, p. 30 et seq.--Public Archives, Canada. Nova Scotia A, vol. liii.] The prospect of a permanent peace with the Indians vanished. They demanded that the Council should send a schooner to Ile Dore to protect their shores. The Council did send a vessel. But no sooner had it arrived than the Indians seized and massacred the whole crew save one man, who claimed to be of French origin and was later ransomed by the French.

In September the inhabitants of Grand Pre, Canso, and Pisiquid presented a petition to the Council at Halifax, praying that their missionaries be excused from taking the ordinary oath. The Acadians were entitled to the free exercise of their religion, and the bishop of Quebec would not send priests if they were required to become British subjects. The Council deliberated. Fearing to give the Acadians a pretext for leaving the country on the plea that they had been deprived of the services of their priests, the Council decided to grant the petition, providing, however, that the priests should obtain a licence from the governor.

The Lords of Trade approved Hopson's policy, which appeared to be bearing good fruit. Later in the autumn came another delegation of Acadians who had formerly resided at Pisiquid but had migrated to French territory, asking to be allowed to return to their old homes. They had left on account of the severe oath proposed by Cornwallis, but were now willing to come back and take a restricted oath. For fear of the Indians, they could not swear to bear arms in aid of the English in time of war. They wished also to be able to move from the province whenever they desired, and to take their effects with them. Evidently they had not found Utopia under the French flag. The Council gave them the permission they desired, promised them the free exercise of their religion, a sufficient number of priests for their needs, and all the privileges conferred by the Treaty of Utrecht.

On the whole, the situation in the autumn of 1753 was most promising. The Acadians, said Hopson, behaved 'tolerably well,' though they still feared the Indians should they attach themselves to the English. Of the French on the frontier there was nothing to complain; and an era of peace seemed assured. But before the end of the year another page in the history of Nova Scotia had been turned. Raymond, the governor of Ile Royale, gave place to D'Ailleboust. Hopson was compelled to return to England on leave of absence through failing eyesight, and Charles Lawrence reigned in his stead.



The policy both of France and of England towards the Acadians was based upon political expediency rather than upon any definite or well-conceived plan for the development of the country. The inhabitants, born to serve rather

The Acadian Exiles - 10/21

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