THE HISTORY OF ACADIA
The story of the Acadian's
quest for survival in the
University if Florida
College of Architecture
Acadia can best be describe
from 1603 to 1763, that now
This land covered all of No
Edward Island, and extended
as far south as the Penobsc
Magdalen Islands. The term
French origin who resided i
later. The Acadians had a
with the English settlers i
the economic benefits of fi
English took Acadia many ti
treaty. This made for a bi
when the English forcefully
territories in the middle 1
d as the land, occupied by the French
makes up the Canadian Maritime Provinces.
a Scotia, Cape Breton Island, Prince
as far north as the Gasp6 Peninsula,
ot River, and sometimes included the
Acadian applied only to the people of
n this area, not the English who came
strange history, filled with battles
n Massachusetts who wanted the land for
shing, trapping, and trading. The
mes, only to lose it again in an English
tter rivalry which eventually ended
moved the Acadians out and into their
The French first settled the area of St. Croix in 164, three
Sroix in 1604, three
years before the English settled in Jamestown. This settlement was
Tnis settlement was
led by Pierre Du Gua de Monts, who acted as a resu.t of a grant from
the French King Henry IV, who offered de Monts all land lying between
40 and 46 degrees north latitude in America.1 De Monts led a group
of 79 men to the Acadian land and following a brief survey of the
land surrounding the Bay of Fundy he settled on an island at the
mouth of the St. Croix River. Some men returned to France before
winter, but of those who stayed only eleven remained well after the
very harsh weather.
During the summer of 1605 one of du Monts' associates, Grave'
Du Pont arrived at St. Croix with two ships, supplies, and a rein-
forcement of men. They then searched for a better place to stay,
deciding to move across the bay to a site on the Annapolis Basin
where they founded the settlement of Port Royal. Du Pont and Samuel
de Champlain remained there with 45 men through the winter of 1605
while de Monts and Jean de Biencourt de Poutrincourt returned to
When they returned in 1606 they set out to establish the
little settlement by sowing vegetables and field crops, building
a lime kiln, and a charcoal fired kiln. They also cut paths from
the settlement to the fields and activities. The residents spent
much of their time tending their fields, fishing, and collecting
shellfish. They had a good winter and as spring came around they
set out sowing seeds and building a gristmill for their expected
harvest when news was brought that de Monts' charter had been
revoked. After samples were obtained to take to the king, the
settlement was abandoned.
The first action that would eventually lead to controversy
took place in 1606 when a charter was issued in England to the
London and Plymouth companies all territories between 34 and 45
degrees north latitude.7 This, it can easily be seen, includes
most of the land which was in de Monts' grant.
In 1610, after de Monts' charter was restored, the Port Royal
settlement was reestablished by Poutrincourt and his son Charles
de Biencourt. They set out to sow crops and prepare for the
winter. Charles returned to France before winter, but returned
in the spring with two Jesuit priests, along with some additional
men and his mother. With the priests there was some trouble as
they wanted to set up a mission while everyone else in the settle-
ment wanted a trading post. After much disagreement about the
mission vs. trading post affair the priests left with Marquise
de Guercheville to set up a mission at St. Sauveur on Mt. Desert
off the coast of present day Maine.
Shortly following this move was the first physical battle
between English and French forces. It was brought about due to
the aforementioned conflict of charters between the two countries.
Samuel Argall, a trader-freebooter out of Jamestown was authorized
by English Governor Sir Thomas Dale to dispose of any French peo-
ple south of 45 degrees north latitude.q He succeeded to sack the
Jesuit settlement at St. Sauveur, then Port Royal.
When Poutrincourt returned to Port Royal in 1614, finding it
almost destroyed, he decided that the whole thing was not worth
the trouble and headed straight back to France. But his son,
Biencourt, with Claude de Saint-Etienne de La Tour and his son
Charles de Saint-Etienne de La Tour decided to establish a fur
trading post. In 1615, when Poutrincourt was killed in France,
Biencourt claimed his title for rights and claims to Acadia.
For most of the following decade Biencourt and his assoc-
iates lived at Port Royal, dealing mostly in fur trade. They
traded for most of their food and supplies so agriculture was
not an important need.
More British conflict was threatened in 1621 when Sir William
Alexander, a Scotsman, received a charter to settle the territory
of Acadia and rename it Nova Scotia, or New Scotland. In 1622
he came over and settled in Newfoundland. He scouted Acadia in
1623 but decided not to stay and returned to Scotland. In 1628,
after Charles de Saint-Etienne de La Tour had moved the French out
of Port Royal, Alexander returned and formed a Scottish settlement
there. Another Scottish settlement was founded at Port Baleine on
Cape Breton Island in 1629 by James Stewart with fifty settlers.
This settlement, though was captured and sacked by the French,.led
by Captain Charles Daniel who deported everyone there.
During this period the English and Scottish were actually in
control of the territory, but in 1632 their leadership came to an
end with the Treaty of St. Germaine-en-Laye when the British hold-
ings were peacefully returned to the French.
Following the treaty Cardinal Richelieu appointed his cousin,
Isaac de Razilly as lieutenant general of Acadia. Razilly then
appointed Charles de Menou d'Aulnay de Charnisay as his second in
command. Richelieu also assumed that Charles de La Tour, who had
been named lieutenant general of the country of Acadia, Fort Louys,
and Fort de La Tour in 1631 would also come under Razilly's juris-
diction. La Tour though was involved in fur trade in the St. John
River Valley and "refused to be subservient to any one man or any
La Tour, who would have nothing to do with d'Aulnay, was strug-
gling with the English over control of the fur trade east of the
Penobscot River, and in December, 1633, destroyed an English trad-
ing post, killing two men. This was followed by a push west to the
When Razilly heard of this he sent d'Aulnay to attack a Plymouth
trading post at Penobscot. La Tour was instructed to assist but he
refused which caused much friction between himself and d'Aulnay.
This attack also caused d'Aulnay trouble with the English, as they
were not too happy in having a post attacked. Leaders of the Ply-
mouth company immediately sent troops to recapture the outpost but
At this time-the leaders of the Massachusetts company, real-
izing that they needed a source of money and supplies, decided the
time was right to get into fur trading on the Penobscot River area
and offered assistance to the French, acting as a middle man between
between La Tour and Europe.
Razilly died in 1635, leaving d'Aulnay in control. La Tour,
wanting the control instead of d'Aulnay, began a power struggle
that was to last for the next fifteen years. While these two men
waged their own civil war, Massachusetts forces were creeping up
on each of them, d'Aulnay from the Atlantic with fishermen setting
up camps to dry fish and on La Tour by gradually moving into his
fur trapping territory in the Penobscot River Valley.
La Tour then reacted to both his problems by sending an assoc-
iate, Monsieur Rochett, a Huguenot, to Boston to negotiate a comm-
ercial treaty with Massachusetts and to obtain military assistance
against d'Aulnay. Rochett emphasized that La Tour was sympathetic
to their Protestant cause while d'Aulnay was "surrounded and man-
ipulated by a host of Roman Catholic priests'. He also stated that
d'Aulnay was totally against their fur trading activities in the
Penobscot River valley while La Tour was willing to promise them
access to the rich fur trading area of the St. John River Valley.
They eagerly accepted the trading proposal but would not aid La
Tour in his war with d'Aulnay. Later though, after d'Aulnay attacked
a British trading vessel and La Tour personally pleaded with Gov-
ernor Winthrop, he agreed to let La Tour hire ships and men to fight
d'Aulnay at Port Royal.
With the English ships La Tour went to the d'Aulnay outpost
at the mouth of the Penobscot River and easily won. They then went
to Port Royal but did only minor damage, not taking control.
d'Aulnay protested violently to the English about their inter-
vention in French affairs and attempted to strike a peace. This
resulted in the Treaty of October, 1644, stating that they would
keep peace with d'Aulnay if he would keep peace with them. (see ap-
The treaty opened trade with d'Aulnay and La Tour but it did
not ease any tension between the two Frenchmen. They continued to
battle until 1647 when d'Aulnay destroyed La Tour's fort on the St.
John River and was confirmed governor of all Acadia. With this
La Tour was forced into exile to Quebec. Things were peaceful until
d'Aulnay was killed in a boating accident in 1650. La Tour then
received a new commission and returned to Acadia. There was still
a struggle with d'Aulnay's people until he married d'Aulnay's widow.
Things were smooth until d'Aulnay's creditor, Emanuel Le Borge,
came and took Port Royal as his own, sending La Tour out to form a
colony at the St. John River.
Le Borgne ruled for only one year as English troops headed by
Robert Sedgwick took control of Port Royal and all of Acadia. They
ruled peacefully for thirteen years until the Treaty of Breda,
signed in Europe without much thought about the English in Acadia,
gave control back to the French. Although the treaty was signed
in 1667, the governor (Thomas Temple) refused to leave until 1670
when he was forced out, giving control to French governor Andigne
Grandfontaine stayed only three years, saying that his position
was useless and that New England still had control of the territory.
The English desire for more control was demonstrated in 1674 when
they decided to push the border up the coast from the Kennebec
River to the Penobscot River, which at the time was the home of
the Acadian capitol. They had official claim to the land due to a
grant made by Charles II to the Duke of York in 1664 stating that
he possessed all territory between the Kennebec River and St. Croix.,,
A very strange thing happened in 1674 when Nova Scotia was
captured by a Dutch sea captain, Jurriaen Aernoutsz. He was com-
missioned because the Dutch were at war with both England and France
and he was to attack English and French settlements in northeast
North America. Aernoutsz, in his one month attacking Nova Scotia
confiscated considerable bootyand captured every member of the
French garrison including the new governor, Jacques de Chambly.,,
He declared the territory now belonged to the Prince of Orange,
going so far as to rename it New Holland. He then named John Rhodes
as commander of the Dutch colony in New Holland. Rhodes was very
serious about his command but soon overstepped his bounds and was
arrested for piracy after he stole some goods from trading ships
in the area. He was banished and control was returned to the French
in 1678 under the leadership of Michel Leneuf de La Valliere.
In the insuing years the Massachusetts colony became much
stronger but France maintained a declining control when in 1686
they began a counter offensive against the English colony. Their
aims were to regain control over the fur trapping region to the
Kennebec River, to try to break their economic dependence on Mass-
achusetts, and to mount a more aggressive policy towards the English.
Louis-Alexandre des Friches de Meneval was appointed governor to
carry out the new policies. With this new policy in full gear the
New Englanders decided that they didn't like it and declared war
In 1610 Sir William Phips captured Port Royal and destroyed
Chedabucto but he let success go to his head and moved on to Quebec
and failed. In 1691 the French regained control and appointed
Joseph Robinau de Vilebon as governor.
In 1692 Phips again went in to flex his muscle in Acadia and
succeeded to open up free trade with the Acadians.
The French remained in control of Acadia until 1710 when
Francis Nicholson, spurred by Samuel Vetch's proposals of the nec
essity of the British taking control of Nova Scotia for economic
reasons, led about 300 British (not New Englanders) troops in fou
ships to take over Port Royal. This was done with almost no defe
and the Union Jack was raised over the renamed Fort Anne in Octob
In the festivities Vetch was named governor of Nova Scotia. This
marked the end of French rule of Port Royal, which was renamed
Port Annapolis by the British.
This proved to be France's last stand in Nova Scotia, as the
Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 granted Nova Scotia to the British, lea
ing only Cape Breton Island and Prince Edward Island for the Acad
Those Acadians that did move became very protective of their
new land. They established Louisbourg as their capitalin 1718 an
began building the great fortress in 1720. Louisbourg quickly
established itself as a fishing and trading depot. Although Loui
bourg presented no real threat to New England, it was captured by
English troops in 1745, only to be returned in the Treaty of Aix-
la-Chapelle in 1748.
In 1749 the British made their first real attempt to settle
in Nova Scotia by establishing a naval base at Halifax. This set-
tlement was founded by Lord Cornwallis, and included about 2000
people of all different backgrounds.7 They quickly formed a close
community with an active seaport.
When the French and Indian war began in 1754, the British went in
and tried to get the Acadians to take an oath of allegiance to
Britain, but they all refused. With this in mind Lieutenant Gov-
ernor Charles Lawrence thought that such a large group of anti-
British people would be unsafe for the English colonies so he dev-
ised a plan to expel all the Acadians. On hearing his orders from
Lawrence, Col. Robert Moncton commanded his New England troops to
begin the nasty business of burning the Acadian settlements, slau-
ghtering their livestock, and herding the Acadians like cattle
to various ports along the Bay of Fundy. It has been estimated
that between 6000 and 7000 Acadian men, women and children, out
of a total population of only around 9000 were deported during the
last four months of 1755. These people were distributed among the
British colonies from Massachusetts to South Carolina. Several
hundred escaped and made their way to Louisiana where their culture
still survives with the people now known as "Cajuns".
REASONS FOR CONFLICT:
The problem of religion is apparent when you realize that
the French were Roman Catholic and the English were strict Prot-
estant (in fact the main reason for coming to America was to escape
The first complaint I could find was that of John Winthrop,
the Puritan governor of Massachusetts who when finding out about
the French regaining control of Acadia stated, "The French, being
Papists, are likely to prove ill neighbors." They were especially
nervous since their own city of Boston was built as a "bulwarke
against the kingdom of Antichrist which the Jesuits labor to rear
up in all places of the world," and now the forces of Antichrist
were threatening their own existence. They responded to the news
of their Catholic neighbors by building a fort at the mouth of
Boston Harbor. They never had any trouble getting the people of
their town excited to build a fort or to fight a battle against
the Catholics because the anti-Catholic sentiment was very strong.
This hatred of Catholicism had its roots in Europe where at
this time, Protestantism was under attack. Cardinal Richelieu, the
most powerful man in France, was procecuting Protestants throughout
France, and this was typical everywhere else.
The French, though, were not as concerned with the difference
in religions as the English. La Tour even used religion as a tool
to use the English. He sent an associate to Boston in 1641 to
persuade them to help La Tour fight against d'Aulnay. La Tour
was very shrewd in sending Monsieur Rochett, who was a Huguenot,
to do his dealing. Rochett emphasized that La Tour was sympathetic
with the Protestants and that d'Aulnay was surrounded and manip-
REASONS FOR CONFLICT:
ulated by a host of Roman Catholic Priests.
His stand was strengthened when he sent his first lieutenant
to speak with Governor Winthrop personally. Winthrop noted in
Here came a French shallop with some fourteen men,
where one was La Tour's lieutenant. They brought
letters from La Tour to the governor, full of com-
plements, and a desire of assistance from us against
Monsieur d'Aulnay. They stayed here about a week,
and were kindly entertained, and though they were
Papists, yet they came to our church meetings; and
the lieutenant seemed to be much affected to find
things as he did, and professed he never saw so good
order in any place. One of the elders gave him a
French testament with Marlorat's notes, which he kind-
ly accepted and promised to read.
REASONS FOR CONFLICT:
Most of the political problems between Acadia and New England
can be applied to the fact that both mother countries were too
far away and to interested in themselves to care much about these
tiny colonies. France and England just didn't seem to know what
the colonies were doing.
The first example of this lack of communication came in the
original charters, where de Monts was given all land between 40
and 46 degrees latitude in 1603, and the London and Plymouth
companies were given the land between 34 and 45 degrees north
latitude. This made both groups believe that they were in control
of the same piece of land which led directly to Samuel Argall's
raid on Port Royal and St. Sauveur.
Other situations that are similar are those in treaties.
At times the New Englanders would really fight hard to take control
of an Acadian settlement only to lose it in a treaty signed between
two distant countries where the New Englanders would have to give
up their conquered land so that England could have some island
they had never heard of before. This happened time and again and
with each treaty the New Englanders would become more resentful
of their mother country.
REASONS FOR CONFLICT:
The Indians were the constant allies of the French during
the Acadian time. The main tribes concerned were the Micmac,
the Abenaki and the Malecite. These tribes traded with the Aca-
dians, were servants in the Acadian homes, were preached Cathol-
icism by the French Jesuits, and even intermarried with the French.
This relationship was looked upon very poorly by the Puritan Eng-
lish in Massachusetts.
Sometimes this allegiance would get the French people into
trouble, such as the time in the summer of 1676, when the Indians
were waging war in the northern region of Massachusetts totally
independently from the French. The English immediately assumed
that this was a French led battle, as seen in the English reverend
Mathers statement, "It is too evident that a French coal hath kind-
led this unhappy fire."
Mather was wrong though, because it was Massachusetts which
had provoked the fighting and even the guns the Indians were using
were of English origin.
Much of the Indian hatred was brought on by the English them-
selves, as can be seen in Mather's writings...
1. Because the English refused to pay that
yearly tuibute of corn, agreed upon in the
Articles of Peace (of 1678) formerly conclu-
ded with them by the English Commissioners.
2. Because they were invaded in their fish-
ery at Saco-River, by certain Gentlemen, who
stopped the fish from coming up the river with
nets and sains. This they were greatly af-
fronted at, saying, They thought (though the
REASONS FOR CONFLICT:
English had got away their lands, as they
had, yet) the fishery of the rivers had been
a priveledge reserved entire unto themselves.
3. Because they were abused by the English.
4. But the fourth and main provocation was
the granting or patenting of their lands to
some English; at which they were greatly en-
raged, threatening the surveyor to knock him
on the head if he came to lay out lands there.
5. To these may be added the common abuses
in trading, viz, drunkenness, cheating, etc.
which such as trade much with them are sel-
dom innocent of.
REASONS FOR CONFLICT:
Since the early days when the English discovered a rich
natural resource, "the knob-headed, richly fat, and succulent
codfish," off the coast of Nova Scotia, they were interested in
possible economic gains that were possible in the region.
One of the main economic factors in the English fishing
trade was the need to put ashore for drying the fish. At times
of disagreements though the French would not allow these activ-
ities. This caused much concern in the English colonies as it
caused an economic problem, since without the drying, the fish-
ing boats could not preserve as much fish as needed. This led
to many skirmishes and was involved in some treaties.
Another economic disagreement was in the fur trapping
region between the Kennebec river and the St. John River. This
region was one of constant struggle, as the English, French and
Indians all wanted control.
Economics also led to many treaties of trade between the
English and French. Many believed that the small settlements
of the Acadians could not survive without the trade with the
English. The French, realizing their problem had the situation
where they sometimes had to depend on their enemy, which probably
was the main factor in their eventually losing their land.
Treaties which affected Acadia-Nova Scotia.
Treaty of St. Germaine-en-Laye:
Came following some skirmishes between English forces
from Massachusetts and French forces from Acadia. Both
groups wanted to control land that officially belonged
to each. The treaty forced the English out, giving com-
plete control to the French.
Treaty between Massachusetts and d'Aulnay:
Followed an attack of d'Aulnay's outpost at Port Royal
by LaTour using English ships and men. It stated that
all Englishmen under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts
shall keep peace with d'Aulnay and all the French under
his command in Acadia. It also noted that d'Aulnay and
his people must reciprocate and keep peace with the people
of Massachusetts. Perhaps the most important feature in
the treaty was that it opened up trade between all Eng-
lishmen in Massachusetts and the French in Acadia.
It was revised in 1646 to state that trade, while
open to the Acadian French was not open to the Indians.
Statement by Cromwell on trade:
Due to England's war with the Dutch, a statement was
Treaties which affected Acadia-Nova Scotia.
issued to all English colonies. "For prevention of
any such trade as maybe of dangerous consequence to
ourselves, as the strengthening of persons in hostility
to our nation or ourselves, that from the publication
hereof, all persons in our jurisdiction are prohibited
from carrying provisions such as corn, beef, peas,
bread, or pork, etc., into any of the plantations of
Dutch or French inhabiting in any of the parts of Amer-
ica; and in case any shall do so, they shall pay triple
the value so traded, upon legal conviction.
Treaty of Breda:
Issued after the English had taken control over Acadia.
It returned Acadia to the French in exchange for three
West Indies islands. The treaty was economically advan-
tageous.for the English but bad for Massachusetts and
especially Thomas Temple, who was the English governor
of Nova Scotia. He wrote a nasty letter to Lord Arling-
ton, stating the dangers of a French controlled Acadia-
Nova Scotia, but his words went unnoticed. Temple did
not give up his settlements at Pentagoet, St. John and
Port Royal until 1670.
Treaties which affected Acadia-Nova Scotia.
Treaty of Neutrality:
A treaty between France and England. It left the boun-
dary problem unsolved. The real importance of the treaty
was that it specifically prohibited the drying of fish
on Acadian soil by Massachusetts fishermen. The people
of Massachusetts were very upset because drying of fish
in Acadia was a standard procedure that was necessary in
the fishing industry.
Treaty of Ryswyk:
Signed at the time of many border skirmishes between
French-Indian forces and Massachusetts forces. Although
it did not deal directly with these disputes by defining
a border, it did bring an end to their fighting. The
treaty allowed for trade to be reestablished between
the Acadians and the people of Massachusetts. The French
retained control of Acadia.
Treaty of Utrecht:
A treaty between France, Spain, England, Savoy, Portugal,
and the Netherlands. It had a devastating affect on
French Acadia. It granted Acadia-Nova Scotia to the
English, leaving only Isle Royale (Cape Breton Island)
Treaties which affected Acadia-Nova Scotia.
and Isle St. Jean (Prince Edward Island) to the French.
Many Acadians, particularly the old who had lived there
most of their lives, were allowed to stay on their land
if they would vow allegiance to England. Those who left
went into Canada, Isle Royal, Isle St. Jean, Louisiana,
or returned to France.
Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle:
Came about after the English had taken control of the
last Acadian stronghold at Louisbourg, on Isle Royale.
The treaty returned control of Isle Royale to the French
in return for Madras (a part of India). Many of the
people of Massachusetts were upset at England's treaty
because it meant that they would have to retake the island.
Treaty of Paris:
Officially ended France's possession of Cape Breton Island.
The Acadians had already been moved out in the late 1750's
but this treaty acknowledged the English control. In
the treaty the English acquired rights to Canada, Cape
Breton, Nova Scotia, parts of Louisiana, Tobago, Dominique,
St. Vincent, the Granadas, the settlement of Senegal, and
the island of Minorca. France got the rights to Martinique,
Guadaloupe, Goree, Belleisle, and other islands.
1. Encyclopedia Americana: vol. 1, p.60
2. A.H. Clark, Acadiar The Geography of Nova Scotia to 1760.
Madison Wis., 1968. p.78
3. Ibid. p.79
4. Ibid. p.79
5. Ibid. p.79
6. Ibid. p.79
7. Encyclopedia Americana: vol. 1, p.60
8. Clark; p.81
9. Ibid. p.81
10. Ibid. p.82
11. Ibid. p.84
12. G.A. Rawlyk, Nova Scotia's Massachusetts. 1630 to 1784.
Montreal Canada, 1973. p.4
13. Ibid. p.7
14. Ibid. p.37
15. Ibid. p.38
16. Ibid. p.120
17. Clark. p.335
18. Rawlyk. p.211
Reasons for Conflict:
1. Rawlyk. pp. 1,2
2. Ibid. p.3
3. Ibid. pp. 7,8
4. Encyclopedia Americana; vol. 1, p.60
5. Rawlyk. p.40
6. Rawlyk. pp.56,57