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- The Acadian Exiles - 5/21 -

elaborate instructions for the preservation of forests, the encouragement of fisheries and the prevention of foreign trade, without providing either means for carrying out the schemes, or troops for the protection of the country.

Nothing further was done regarding the oath of allegiance until the arrival of Governor Philipps in 1720, when the Acadians were called upon to take the oath or leave the country within four months, taking with them only two sheep per family. This, it seems, was merely an attempt to intimidate the people into taking the oath, for when the Acadians, having no boats at their disposal, proposed to travel by land, and began to cut out a road for the passage of vehicles, they were stopped in the midst of their labours by order of the governor.

In a letter to England Philipps expressed the opinion that the Acadians, if left alone, would no doubt become contented British subjects, that their emigration at this time would be a distinct loss to the garrison, which was supplied by their labours. He added that the French were active in maintaining their influence over them. One potent factor in keeping them restless was the circulation of reports that the English would not much longer tolerate Catholicism. [Footnote: Public Archives, Canada. Nova Scotia A, vol. xi, p. 186.] The Lords of Trade took this letter into consideration, and in their reply of December 28, 1720, we find the proposal to remove the Acadians as a means of settling the problem. [Footnote: 'As to the French inhabitants of Nova Scotia, who appear so wavering in their inclinations, we are apprehensive they will never become good subjects to His Majesty whilst the French Governors and their Priests retain so great an influence over them, for which reason we are of opinion, that they ought to be removed so soon as the forces which we have proposed to be sent to you shall arrive in Nova Scotia for the protection and better settlement of your Province, but as you are not to attempt their removal without His Majesty's positive orders for that purpose, you will do well in the meanwhile to continue the same prudent and cautious conduct towards them, to endeavour to undeceive them concerning the exercise of their religion, which will doubtless be allowed them if it should be thought proper to let them stay where they are.'--Public Archives, Canada. Nova Scotia A, vol. xii, p. 210.] This, however, was not the first mooting of the idea. During the same year Paul Mascarene, in 'A Description of Nova Scotia,' had given two reasons for the expulsion of the inhabitants: first, that they were Roman Catholics, under the full control of French priests opposed to British interests; secondly, that they continually incited the Indians to do mischief or disturb English settlements. On the other hand, Mascarene discovered two motives for retaining them: first, in order that they might not strengthen the French establishments; secondly, that they might be employed in furnishing supplies for the garrison and in preparing fortifications until such time as the English were strong enough to do without them. [Footnote: 'A Description of Nova Scotia,' by Paul Mascarene, transmitted to the Lords of Trade by Governor Philipps.--Public Archives, Canada. Nova Scotia A, vol. xii, p. 118.]

It does not appear that either the English or the French government had any paternal affection for the poor Acadians; but each was fully conscious of the use to which they might be put.

In a letter to the Lords of Trade Philipps sums up the situation. 'The Acadians,' he says, 'decline to take the oath of allegiance on two grounds--that in General Nicholson's time they had signed an obligation to continue subjects of France and retire to Cape Breton, and that the Indians would cut their throats if they became Englishmen.'

If they are permitted [he continues] to remain upon the footing they propose, it is very probable they will be obedient to government as long as the two Crowns continue in alliance, but in case of a rupture will be so many enemies in our bosom, and I cannot see any hopes, or likelihood, of making them English, unless it was possible to procure these Priests to be recalled who are tooth and nail against the Regent; not sticking to say openly that it is his day now, but will be theirs anon; and having others sent in their stead, which (if anything) may contribute in a little time to make some change in their sentiments.

He further suggests an 'oath of obliging the Acadians to live peaceably,' to take up arms against the Indians, but not against the French, to acknowledge the king's right to the country, to obey the government, and to hold their lands of the king by a new tenure, 'instead of holding them (as at present) from lords of manors who are now at Cape Breton, where at this day they pay their rent.' [Footnote: Public Archives, Canada. Nova Scotia A, vol. xii, p. 96.]

There were signs that the situation was not entirely hopeless. The Acadians were not allowed to leave the country, or even to settle down to the enjoyment of their homes; they were employed in supplying the needs of the troops, or in strengthening the British fortifications; yet they seem to have patiently accepted the inevitable. The Indians committed acts of violence, but the Acadians remained peaceable. There was, too, a certain amount of intermarriage between Acadian girls and the British soldiers. In those early days of Nova Scotia, girls of a marriageable age were few and were much sought after. There was in Annapolis an old French gentlewoman 'whose daughters, granddaughters, and other relatives' had married British officers. These ladies soon acquired considerable influence and were allowed to do much as they pleased. The old gentlewoman, Marie Magdalen Maisonat, who had married Mr William Winniett, a leading merchant and one of the first British inhabitants of Annapolis, became all-powerful in the town, not only on account of her own estimable qualities, but also on account of the position held by her daughters and granddaughters. Soldiers arrested for breach of discipline often pleaded that they had been 'sent for to finish a job of work for Madame'; and this excuse was usually sufficient to secure an acquittal. If not, the old lady would on her own authority order the culprit's release, and 'no further enquiry was made into the matter.' One British officer, who had incurred her displeasure, was told that 'Me have rendered King Shorge more important service dan ever you did or peut-etre ever shall, and dis is well known to peoples en autorite,' which may have been true if, as was asserted, she sometimes presided at councils of war in the fort. [Footnote: Knox, An Historical Journal of the Campaigns in North America, Edited, etc., by A. G. Doughty. Vol. i, pp. 94-6. (Toronto: The Champlain Society, 1914.)]

It was with the Indians, rather than with the Acadians, that the authorities had the greatest trouble. After several hostile acts had been committed, the governor determined to try the effect of the gentle art of persuasion. He sent to England an agent named Bannfield to purchase a large quantity of presents for the Indians. Bannfield was thoroughly dishonest, and appropriated two-thirds of the money to his own use, expending the remainder on the purchase of articles of 'exceeding bad quality.' A gorgeous entertainment was prepared for the savages, and the presents were given to them. The Indians took away the presents, but their missionaries had little difficulty in showing them the inferiority of the English gifts; and Philipps noted that they did not appear satisfied. 'They will take all we give them,' he wrote, 'and cut our throats next day.' At length the Indians boldly declared war against the British, an action which Philipps attributed to the scandalous conduct of the agent Bannfield. At the instigation of the French of Ile Royale, they kept up hostilities for two years and committed many barbarities. The Micmacs seized fishing smacks, and killed and scalped a number of English soldiers and fishermen. It was not until a more attractive supply of presents arrived, and were distributed among the chiefs, that they could be induced to make peace.

During the progress of the Indian war Governor Philipps had prudently refrained from discussing with the Acadians the question of the oath; but in 1726 Lawrence Armstrong, the lieutenant-governor, resolved to take up the matter again. In the district of Annapolis he had little trouble. The inhabitants there consented, after some discussion, to sign a declaration of allegiance, with a clause exempting them from the obligation of taking up arms. [Footnote: This oath applied only to the inhabitants of the district of Annapolis.] But to deal with the Acadians of Minas and of Beaubassin on Chignecto Bay proved more difficult. Certain 'anti-monarchical traders' from Boston and evil-intentioned French inhabitants had represented in these districts that the governor had no authority in the land, and no power to administer oaths. No oath would these Acadians take but to their own Bon Roy de France. They promised, however, to pay all the rights and dues which the British demanded.

The death of George I in 1727, and the accession of George II, made it necessary for the Acadians to acknowledge the new monarch. This time the lieutenant-governor was determined to do the business in a thorough and comprehensive manner. He chartered a vessel at a cost of a hundred pounds, and commissioned Ensign Wroth to proceed from place to place at the head of a detachment of troops proclaiming the new king and obtaining the submission of the people. Wroth was eminently successful in proclaiming His Majesty; but he had less success in regard to the oath. Finding the Acadians obdurate, he promised them on his own authority freedom in the exercise of their religion, exemption from bearing arms, and liberty to withdraw from the province at any time. These 'unwarrantable concessions' Armstrong refused to ratify; and the Council immediately declared them null and void, although they resolved that 'the inhabitants... having signed and proclaimed His Majesty and thereby acknowledged his title and authority to and over this Province, shall have the

The Acadian Exiles - 5/21

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