| Halifax was founded in 1749 and was the governmental
headquarters. From Halifax to Minas was only a trail. Jean
Melanson (from Canard) and Claude LeBlanc (from Grand Pre) made the trip
in a few days to speak to Cornwallis on behalf of the people. They
found that they were supposed to bring a proclamation back to their people
and make it public. They had to take the oath without restriction.
The deputies (representatives) from all areas returned to respectfully
say no. Cornwallis said everyone had to take it without exception
by Oct. 26 or lose their rights and property. The deputies went to the
people, told the news, and reported to Cornwallis in a few weeks.
What they brought back was a paper with a thousand “signatures” referring
to the previous oath and how well they’ve “behaved” since then.
It repeated their fear of the Indians and
asked if they could take the same oath as taken under Philipps; otherwise
they wanted to leave the country. Cornwallis was harsh about it.
He wrote to the Lords of Trade saying he would use the Acadians while they
were there. And he prevented the Acadians from leaving.
The French were building a fort at Beausejour.
They got Abbe Le Loutre to try to talk the Acadians into moving to French
territory. The Acadians were concerned about Cornwallis’plans.
Actions by the French got some Acadians to join the Indians in acting against
the English. It was too late in the year for a general withdrawal,
though some left. [Herbin, 80]
The English sent ~100 men to Minas under Captain
Handfield to prevent Acadian movements. It was too late to build
barracks, so they enclosed 3 houses, in a triangular picketing with half
bastions, on a hill. A blockhouse from Port Royal had been brought
and set up in the camp. The “fort” was known as Vieux Logis.
The people helped provide for the soldiers, helped poorer settlers build
houses at Halifax, and cleared a road to Halifax about 18’ wide. [Herbin, 81]
In October 1749, 300 Indians (spurred on by
the French) blockaded the Minas fort so the Acadians could leave; shots
were fired, but no one was killed. But the people wanted to wait
to hear from the governor, so the Indians left. The Indians surprised
an 18 man group led by Capt. Hamilton and took them and notary Leblanc
with them. By 1750, a fort (Ft. Edward) had been built at Pisiquid.
Cornwallis still wanted them to take the oath, and they still wanted to
leave the country.
The English began importing settlers in 1750, but they had to be kept in the Halifax area until the Acadian issues could be solved. In late 1751, after years of service and in ill health, Gov. Cornwallis resigned as governor. In August 1752, Col. Peregrine Thomas Hopson - the former commander at Louisbourg who had been at Chebucto since 1749 -took over as governor. He sent most of the German settlers to Merliguish (which was renamed Lunenburg) in 1753. (NSHS, V. 1)
were raising much more crops than they needed. Vieux Logis was falling apart, so the men were sent
to Fort Edward. [Herbin, 82]
Hopson recognized the problems the Acadians
had with the oath, and knew how important the Acadians were to the country.
He made a treaty with the Indians, and would have helped the Acadians’
situation, but he had to retire as governor after 15 months due to health
problems. He had laid out rules for the fair treatment of Acadians
... that they should be treated as well as other subjects of England. [Herbin,
Hopson was replaced by Charles Lawrence. Many
documents show that Lawrence had desires to get rid of the Acadians.
He used the acts of individuals to make charges against the whole population.
He revoked Hopson’s orders (ie. not to use military force if they refused
to comply). One example was that if an Acadian was ordered to get
firewood, and he didn’t do it promptly ... his house would be used for
About 3,000 made their way to the northwest.
Besides pressure from Lawrence, the Acadians had heard reports that Governor
Shirley planned to take some of their land and settle Protestants among
them, and offering privileges to the French who would convert. He
had even sent a report to England on how to convert them to Protestantism.
Many documents show that Lawrence had desires
to get rid of the Acadians. The acts of individuals were charged
to the whole population. The English openly stated their fear that
the Acadians would join arms with the French. But the fact is that the
English just wanted to get rid of the Acadians. When a number of Acadians
were caught fighting with the French, it provided the incentive for Charles
Lawrence to start the ball rolling. He revoked Hopson’s orders (ie. not
to use military force if they refused to comply). One example was
if ordered to get firewood, and they didn’t do it promptly ... use their
houses for fuel. [Herbin, 86]
On June 6, 100 men from Ft. Edward went to
Grand Pre and split up, 2 to a house. They seized all arms and ammunition
(and faced no resistance). Then the soldiers sailed back to Ft. Edward
with the stuff. The Acadians didn’t know what was behind this ...
at least not yet. Actually, only 1/5 of the quantity was found.
Soon after, an order was given for Acadians to give up their arms at Ft.
Edward, and 2,900 were turned in. They then sent a petition to Lawrence. [Herbin,
It notes that they could no longer take corn
by ship because the English think they might be bringing corn or other
supplies to Beasejour or St. John. They said they weren’t to blame
if some people from Beaubassin were moving their cattle. It notes
how their canoes were taken, and they would like them back for fishing.
Then the poor could support their families with fish. They also note
the taking of their guns, which they needed to protect their cattle from
wild beasts and to protect their families. If someone had oxen in
the woods, he would think of going get them without something to defend
himself. [Herbin, 88]
It notes that since the Indians have left,
wild beasts have increased and cattle are eaten by them every day.
They also needed guns for protection from Indians. They were also
upset at being declared guilty without even knowing what was done. Pierre
Melanson of River Canard was on his boat (having not heard of an order
to forbid it) and was seized. They wanted to be informed when (and
why?) he wanted to confiscate their property. They heard that
the governor ignored the petition, so they drew up another on June 24,
1755. They were very polite, even apologizing for being so timid
in his presence. [Herbin, 89]
They offered to explain the petition to him.
The petition was signed by 44 people from Minas, Canard, and Piziquid.
Lawrence accused the Acadians of aiding Indians
(though the Indians had left the area and were in New Brunswick).
The Indians had harassed the Acadians because they seemed too nice to the
English. Some Acadians had gone to help the French, but only under
penalty of death. For 40 years they couldn’t get titles to their
land, or get any more land. [Herbin, 90]
They had produced tons of produce. There
were 2 churches. Lawrence asked them to take the oath. They
asked to go talk with the people, but were told that they had 24 hours
to decide. He sent word to Murray at Piziquid, to get the Acadians
at Minas to get new deputies, and if the oath weren’t taken ... he’d remove
them from the Province.
The priests and the archives had been carried
off by the English. Lawrence had hidden his plans from the English
government till it was too late for them to stop him. He told the
Lords of Trade that if the Acadians refused to take the oath, he’d send
them to France. An answer from England was 3 months away. [Herbin,
On July 5, 100 delegates went to Lawrence
with a petition (signed by 203) saying that they’d only take the oath given
in Philipp’s day, and not any other. They were put in prison (until
after the deportations started).
Abbe Daudin relates [the book has a long excerpt]
that the only time the English had been talking to Acadians was to tell
them that their days were numbered ... that destruction awaited them.
But they still hoped for the best. “Prayer was the only weapon they
used against the English.” After Beausejour was taken, the English
would have them go to the fort on holidays and sharpen instruments ...
telling them that one day they’d be used on them. [Herbin,
He says that when the 100 got to Halifax,
they were told that no statements would be heard from them. They
were simply asked “Will you or will you not swear to the King of Great
Britain that you will take up arms against the King of France, his enemy?”
They responded, since they could only answer yes or no, it was a unanimous
no. They added that taking such an oath would also tend to “despoil”
them of their religion and everything else. Immediately the 100 were
taken to an island off of Halifax and imprisoned till the end of October.
Lawrence thought this would weaken them, but it didn’t. He would
go out to the island carrying tools of torture (to scare them). He
was like a tyrant. One of them said “... we have God for us, and
that is enough.” When Lawrence threatened him with a sword, he presented
his chest and said “Strike, sir, if you
dare; I shall be the first martyr of the band; you can kill my
body, but you shall not kill my soul.” In a frenzy, Lawrence asked
the others if they felt that way, and they said with one loud voice “Yes,
The English carried off the priests, raised
the English flag above the churches, and used them for barracks.
The priests were insulted and mocked for 45 minutes when they got to Halifax. [Herbin,
On July 28, 1755, Lawrence and the council
decided to deport the Acadians.
Since troops from New England were in the area (they had helped to
Beausejour), he sent a note to Moncton letting him know that as soon
as the transports
(which had been ordered) arrived. [Herbin, 94]
The 1755 Exile, as will as the 1758
Exile, are covered in the following section.