Great Upheaval

Great Upheaval

The Great Upheaval, also known as the "Great Expulsion", "The Deportation", the "Acadian Expulsion", or to the deportees, "Le Grand Dérangement", was the forced population transfer of the Acadian population from Nova Scotia between 1755 and 1763, ordered by British governor Charles Lawrence and the Nova Scotia Council.


The relationship between the French and British colonists in Nova Scotia had long been one filled with animosity. Though the French initially colonised the area, various treaties traded possession of the region between the English/British, and French through the 1600s and beyond. The Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 saw the territory of Acadia definitively ceded to the British. The Acadians were forced to swear an oath in 1730 giving their allegiance to the British crown but with a caveat that they would not be required to bear arms against the French or First Nations. Richard Phillips, the British governor at the time, was said to have verbally approved of this arrangement.

Despite this agreement, British distrust of the Acadian settlers remained. Successive governors continued to pressure the Acadians to firmly state where their loyalties lay but it would not become a pressing concern for the British until 1755. That year, 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 [Government of Nova Scotia transcripts from Journal of John Winslow] . Despite claims that they had been forced to take up arms against their will, the discovery completely eroded British trust of the Acadians.

Governor Lawrence gave the Acadians one last opportunity to swear allegiance to the British Crown. The Acadians again refused, believing that this demand was no different than ones made over the past few decades. Lawrence then chose to act illegally, and without consultation with London.

The response was swift and unforgiving. Before 1755 was over, an estimated 6,000 Acadians - approximately three-quarters of their total population - were rounded up as prisoners and forced onto ships bound for the British American colonies, Europe, and British prisons. Nearly half would die en route. By 1763, over 10,000 Acadians had been deported from the Maritimes. Some were shipped as far as the Falkland Islands. The largest single group was returned to France where it was poorly treated and ostracized by French society.Fact|date=April 2007.

Charles Lawrence's expulsion orders

Quotation|Halifax 11 August 1755

Instructions for Major Handfield, Commanding his Majesty's garrison of Annapolis Royale in relation to the transportation of the Inhabitants of the District of Annapolis River and other French Inhabitants out of the Province of Nova Scotia.


Having in my Letter of the 31st of July last made you acquainted with the reasons which Induced His Majesty's Council to come to the Resolution of sending away the French Inhabitants and clearing the whole Country of such bad subjects, it only remains for me to give you the necessary orders for the putting in practice what has been so solemnly determined.

That the Inhabitants may not have it in their power to return to this Province nor to join in strengthening the French of Canada in Louisbourg; it is resolved that they shall be dispersed among his Majesty's Colonies upon the Continent of America.

For this purpose Transports are ordered to be sent from Boston to Annapolis to ship on board one thousand persons reckoning two persons to a ton, and for Chignecto, transports have been taken up here to carry off the Inhabitants of that place; and for those of the District around Mines Bason Transports are in from Boston. As Annapolis is the place where the last of the transports will depart from, any of the vessels that may not receive their full complement up the Bay will be ordered there, and Colonel Winslow with his detachment will follow by land and bring up what stragglers he may meet with to ship on board at your place.

Upon the arrival of the vessels from Boston in the Bason of Annapolis as many of the Inhabitants of Annapolis District as can be collected by any means, particularly the heads of families and young men, are to be shipped on board of them at the above rate of two persons to a ton, or as near it as possible. The tonnage of the vessels to be ascertained by the charter partys, which the masters will furnish you with an amount of.

And to give you all the ease possible respecting the victualling of these transports, I have appointed Mr. George Sauls to act as agent Victualler upon this occasion and have given him particular instructions for that purpose with a copy of which he will furnish you upon his arrival at Annapolis Royale from Chignecto with the provisions for victualling the whole transports; but in case you should have shipped any of the Inhabitants before his arrival you will order five pounds of flour and one pound of pork to be delivered to each person so shipped to last for seven days and so until Mr. Saul's arrival, and it will be replaced by him into the stores from what he has on board the provision vessel for that purpose.

The destination of the Inhabitants of Annapolis River and of the transports ordered to Annapolis Bason:

To be sent to Philadelphia such a number of vessels as will transport three hundred persons.

To be sent to New York such a number of vessels as will transport two hundred persons.

To be sent to Connecticut such a number of vessels / whereof the Sloop Dove, Samuel Forbes, Master to be one / as will transport three hundred persons.

And To be sent to Boston such a number of vessels as will transport two hundred persons, or rather more in proportion to the province of Connecticut, should the number to be shipped off exceed one thousand persons.

When the people are embarked you will please to give the master of each vessel one of the letters of which you will receive a number signed by me of which you will address to the Governor of the Province or the Commander in Chief for the time being where they are to be put on shore and enclose therein the printed form of the Certificate to be granted to the Masters of the vessels to entitle them to their hire as agreed upon by Charter party; and with these you will give each of the Masters their sailing orders in writing to proceed according to the above destination, and upon their arrival immediately to wait upon the Governors or Commanders in Chief of the Provinces for which they are bound with the said Letters and to make all possible dispatch in debarking their passengers and obtain certificates thereof agreeable to the form aforesaid.

And you will in these orders make it a particular injunction to the said Masters to be as careful and watchful as possible during the whole course of the passage to prevent the passengers making any attempt to seize upon the vessel by allowing only a small number to be upon the decks at a time and using all other necessary precautions to prevent the bad consequence of such attempts; and that they be particularly careful that the Inhabitants carry no arms nor other offensive weapons on board with them at their embarkation. As also that they see the provisions regularly issued to the people agreeable to the allowance proportioned in Mr. George Saul's instructions.

You will use all the means proper and necessary for collecting the people together so as to get them on board. If you find that fair means will not do with them, you must proceed by the most vigorous measures possible, not only in compelling them to embark, but in depriving those who shall escape of all means of shelter or support by burning their houses and destroying everything that may afford them the means of subsistence in the country, and if you have not force sufficient to perform this service, Colonel Winslow at Mines or the Commanding Officer there will upon your application send you a proper reinforcement.

You will see by the Charter partys of the vessels taken up at Boston that they are hired by the month; therefore I am to desire that you will use all possible dispatch to save expense to the public.

As soon as the people are shipped and the transports are ready you will acquaint the Commander of His Majesty's Ship therewith that he may take them under his convoy and put to sea without loss of time.|Sir Charles Lawrence|Orders to Captain John Handfield [Text of Charles Lawrence's orders to Captain John Handfield]

After the expulsion

Not all Acadians were deported by the British. A large number of Acadians fled overland, aided by their Mi'kmaq allies, and resettled in the colonies of New France, present-day Québec and New Brunswick. There was also a small guerilla resistance led by Joseph Broussard dit "Beausoleil". Others returned and settled in the region of Fort Sainte-Anne, now Fredericton, and were displaced again by the arrival of the Loyalists. In 1785 they created the first colony in the Upper Saint John River valley, near what is now Edmundston.

Over the next several decades, many Acadians moved down the North American east coast, landing temporarily in New England, the Carolinas and other ports, with a large number eventually settling in Louisiana, then controlled by Spain. Spanish authorities welcomed the Catholic Acadians as settlers, first in areas along the Mississippi River, then later in the Atchafalaya Basin and in the prairie lands to the west, a region later renamed Acadiana. During the 19th century, as Acadians reestablished their culture, "Acadian" was elided locally into "Cajun."

The homes and farms around the Bay of Fundy were burned or given to English-speaking Protestant colonists. For example, on 4 June 1760 New England planters arrived to claim land in Nova Scotia taken from the Acadians. However the significant repopulation in Nova Scotia came from the Highland ScotsFact|date=June 2007 emigrating as a result of the Highland Clearances beginning in the late 18th century. In time some of the Acadian population returned, and today there remain islands of largely French-speaking towns such as Chéticamp intermingled with the Scots.

The following table lists the destinations to which Acadians were deported, together with estimates of how many arrived at each port:

Table source: R.A. LEBLANC. "Les migrations acadiennes", in "Cahiers de géographie du Québec", vol. 23, no 58, April 1979, p. 99-124.

Acadians in Literature and Culture

American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow published a long, narrative poem about the plight of the Acadians called "Evangeline" in 1847. [Calhoun, Charles C. "Longfellow: A Rediscovered Life". Boston: Beacon Press, 2004: 189. ISBN 0807070262.] The Evangeline Oak is a tourist attraction in Louisiana.

The song "Acadian Driftwood", recorded in 1975 by The Band, portrays the Great Upheaval and the displacement of the Acadian people.

Modern recognition

Grand-Pré Park, situated in present-day Grand Pré, Nova Scotia, is now a National Historic Site of Canada and has been preserved as a living monument to the Expulsion, complete with a memorial church and a statue of Evangeline, the subject of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's stirring poem on the experience entitled "Evangeline".

In December 2003, Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, representing Canada's Monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, declared the Crown's acknowledgement of (but did not apologise for) the Expulsion, and designated July 28 as "A Day of Commemoration of the Great Upheaval." This proclamation, often referred to as the Royal Proclamation of 2003, closed one of the longest open cases in the history of the British courts, initiated when the Acadian representatives first presented their grievances of forced dispossession of land, property and livestock in 1760.



In English

* Faragher, John Mack (2005). "A Great and Noble Scheme: The Tragic Story of the Expulsion of the French Acadians from their American Homeland", New York: W.W. Norton, 562 pages ISBN 0-393-05135-8 ( [ online excerpt] )
* Jobb, Dean (2005). "The Acadians: A people's story of exile and triumph", Mississauga (Ont.): John Wiley & Sons Canada, 296 p. ISBN 0-470-83610-5
* Moody, Barry (1981). "The Acadians", Toronto: Grolier. 96 pages ISBN 0717218104
* Rosemary Neering, Stan Garrod (1976). "Life in Acadia", Toronto: Fitzhenry and Whiteside. ISBN 0889021805
* Belliveau, Pierre (1972). "French neutrals in Massachusetts; the story of Acadians rounded up by soldiers from Massachusetts and their captivity in the Bay Province, 1755-1766", Boston : Kirk S. Giffen, 259 p.
* Griffiths, N.E.S. (1969). "The Acadian deportation: deliberate perfidy or cruel necessity?", Toronto: Copp Clark Pub. Co., 165 p.
* Doughty, Arthur G. (1916). "The Acadian Exiles. A Chronicle of the Land of Evangeline", Toronto: Glasgow, Brook & Co. 178 pages ( [ online] )
* [ Government of Nova Scotia transcripts from Journal of John Winslow]
* [] Text of Charles Lawrence's orders to Captain John Handfield
* [] Britain's forgotten genocide in the land of Évangéline by Alkan Chaglar

In French

* LeBlanc, Ronnie-Gilles, ed. (2005). "Du Grand dérangement à la Déportation : nouvelles perspectives historiques", Moncton: Chaire d'études acadiennes, Université de Moncton, 465 p.
* Arsenault, Bona and Pascal Alain (2004). "Histoire des Acadiens", Saint-Laurent, Québec: Éditions Fides, 502 p.
* Sauvageau, Robert (1987). "Acadie : La guerre de Cent Ans des français d'Amérique aux Maritimes et en Louisiane 1670-1769" Paris: Berger-Levrault
* Gaudet, Placide (1922). "Le Grand Dérangement : sur qui retombe la responsabilité de l'expulsion des Acadiens", Ottawa: Impr. de l'Ottawa Printing Co.
* d'Arles, Henri (1918). "La déportation des Acadiens", Québec: Imprimerie de l'Action sociale

External links

* [ Grand-Pré National Historic Site of Canada]
* [ Find-A-Grave article] on a memorial to the Acadians in Georgia

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