The Acadian expulsion, as much as it happened long time during the 1750s, continues to be a highly controversial topic in the annals of North America. The Canadian Nationalists, especially those that affiliated to France, continue to demand that Queen Elizabeth offers an apology for the Acadian expulsion. In 1990, an attorney from Cajun, Warren Perrin, had threatened that he would sue the British regime if the apology for the British misdeeds is not made. Of course, the topic is a subject of division. Some have stood for the fact that an apology should never be made. Yet others have argued that the event was not only brutal, but also unjustified. They contend that the act of expelling the Acadians was far from being justified. Thus, the crucial question is whether the Acadian expulsion of the 1750s was justified, which is the focus of this paper.
Acadians were the occupants to a region in the eastern Canada that was formerly occupied by the French. Later, the region was ceded to the British following the Treaty of Utrecht. As from 1755 to 1763, the Acadian would be expelled from the territory. It is argued that the British colonizers expelled around 11,000 Acadians. Majority of the Acadians were deported back to France only to receive harsh treatment. Additionally, the Acadians had to content with certain challenges as they were being deported. For instance, North Carolina and Virginia vehemently opposed the reception of the 1500 Acadians, even staging demonstrations. The hostility was compelling enough for the Acadians to be sent back to England. Yet some of the boats that ferried the Acadians never arrived back safely. Thus, even the deportation of the Acadians would never be justified because it was below contempt.
Some scholars have described the Great Upheaval as being selfish, as well as actions motivated by greed and hatred by the British. The Acadians were considered by the Britons as threat to their war with France, considering that they had declined to an oath of allegiance to the British. Yet their refusal mainly had a religious foundation, as well. The British were mainly Protestants while the Acadians were mainly Roman Catholics. Besides, the Acadians had a reason to object to submission for the oath of allegiance for they feared that any such attempt would see their able bodied males forced to participate in the contested battle between the French and the Mi’kmaq, in as much as the oath of allegiance was unconditional.
It is also cited that some Acadians simply refused to sign the oath because they did not support the British. The Acadians, aside from the Mi’kmaq, also participated in several military operations aimed to bring the British down, a point that is also disputed. Here, it is cited that the Acadian would never be expelled but assimilated. It was not until they yielded to the French pressure to bear arms and revolt against the British that they were expelled, as from 1955. It was then that the British started repopulating the territory with its citizens since it was left unoccupied after the expulsion activity.
Although the British had conquered the Acadian-occupied territory as early as 1710, they did not succeed in establishing a strong control over the area. At the time, the colonial population was predominantly French, as well as the Catholics. Furthermore, the Mi’kmaq, also the aborigines of the land, had strong ties with the French. They were bounded by common religion, intermarriages and even through economic ties. This relationship is what made the British uncomfortable. As from 1720, battles broke out between the British and the Mi’kmaq, often in the forms of ambushes and raids. This would be followed by the period of peace, as the two sides grappled with delineating the extent of the British sovereignty. New French agents, who had the motive of recovering their lost territory, would support the Mi’kmaq. As this happened, the Acadians seemed stuck in the middle of the conquest. In particular, the Acadian were tied to their land, yet they had to exercise loyalties to France, maintain kinship and religious ties with the Mi’kmaq and be loyal to the British colonial authority.
The British were unable to cultivate a good relationship with the two groups that had prevailed over the area for a century. Although the British were concerned about according the Mi’kmaq and the Acadians a different treatment, the delineations were never stable because the bonds between the two groups were hard to break. Even as the conflicts between the British and the Mi’kmaq intensified, the bonds of loyalty between the Mi’kmaq and the Acadians continued to grow. The Acadian would offer the Mi’kmaq with supplies, shelter, and strategic advice on the course of the Anglo-Mi’kmaq disputes.
Of course any attempt of conquering territory is accompanied by certain problems that the conquerors have to contend with, especially concerning the question of how to deal with the conquered. The conquered population could be treated to assimilation, expulsion or subjugation, which are the three common options. In the case of Nova Scotia, a territory that was occupied by the Acadians, the British had contemplated between expulsion and assimilation, and eventually arrived at the decision to expel them. In this regard, the conquest and expulsion of the Acadians is considered as a long-planned and effectively executed process. The ties between the Mi’kmaqs and the Acadians were particularly strong at the time to the extent that the British could hardly distinguish between them. Entangled in the confusion, the British resolved to treat the Acadian and the Mi’kmaqs as the one entity.
As from 1713 and 1743, the Board of Trade, the governor and the Council had met to contemplate over various choices. One of the choices was to assimilate the Acadians through Evangelism, trade and education, and expel the French. Another option was to weaken the influence of the French by dividing the Acadians and the Mi’kmaq, as well as bringing in a number of protestant colonists as a way of overwhelming them numerically.
It is also speculated that the move to expel the Acadian was merely motivated by the need to secure land for the settlement of the rapidly increasing British population, as well as exploit labor from the territory. The Acadian expulsion neither came as a consequence of conquest nor war. It is suggested that the expulsion was triggered by the command of the king of England. The point concurs with that of Plank that the move to expel the Acadians would only have been justified if it originated from the Colony, other than from England. Furthermore, according to Plank, the explanation of Acadian expulsion was a result of war is flawed. He notes that British’s sole interest was to acquire the productive land from the Acadians. The deportation took place during the time when peace was highly sought and accorded importance. The upheaval was therefore unjustified and a breach of peace manifested by the signing of the Westphalia Treaty in 1648.
Mistakes of the British during the Slave trade period and Australia’s colonization as an illustration of their historical unjustified acts
It is well documented that in the past the treatment that Britain usually accords other subjects has never been justified. This is evidenced by the treatment that was accorded to slaves and the indigenous Red Indians in the case of America’s colonization. The manner in which the slaves were captured, treated, and transported to the English colonies was below contempt. The British Slave traders participated in a risky business considering that chances of losing the slaves through diseases and dehydration were particularly high. Therefore, the slave traders preferred not to waste time and energy sailing weak slaves, only to lose them along the way.
The captains of the ship would be instructed to ensure that only healthy and well bodied slaves were bought and transported to Europe. Even as they selected the able bodied men, the captains were expected to ensure that the acquired slaves were not misused and weakened by the sailors. Additionally, just in case the slaves died, captains were also instructed to bring with them the ivories and elephant tusks to suffice the eventual slave losses. Thus, the acquired slaves were simply commodities to buy and sell. In addition, the buyers of the slaves were also brutal. They preferred young men, as opposed to women and older men. The record of the ages of slaves would be recorded in a file called the list of death, considering that a large number of slaves lost their lives following horrible voyage conditions. Whereas the number of slaves, age and the origin were recorded, this was never the case for the number of deaths. A criterion was applied when selecting slaves. Historical excerpt documents show that even the healthy and fine slaves ended dying a few hours after their capture.
As far as Australia is concerned, the legacy of colonization is well documented and reveals that during the period, British policies were also not that justified. Despite the fact that colonial legacies have been widely appraised for being associated with positive developments, this is nonetheless the case for Australian aboriginal communities. Colonization has been cited as one of the most powerful forces that destroyed the lives of the aboriginal communities in Australia. Waves of violence that broke out in the frontiers saw many aboriginal people dispossessed, as well as traumatized. Colonial legislations displaced aboriginal people from the reserves, separated husbands and wives, as well as separated children from their families. It is this form of dispossession that saw cultural relationships destroyed and land dispossessed. These developments also saw the aboriginal communities detached from the political processes and economic and religious autonomy.
The colonial systems ended up forbidding rites of passage, and imposed other rules that saw the aboriginal people lose freedom. Men and women from the aboriginal communities are characterized as having low-self-esteem having been raised in environments filled with trauma, violence, role confusion, and drug abuse. On the other hand, the impact of colonization on youthful generation and children to the aboriginal communities is also profound. The process of colonization saw children suffer from the cultural fragmentation and poverty. The eventuality is that the aboriginal communities were left to depend on all that was offered by the colonial systems.
In conclusion, the subject of whether the expulsion of the Acadians from their territory is justifiable is a subject of debate. Indeed, some scholars cite that it was justified as the Acadians participated in the series of revolts against the British. This is exacerbated by the fact that the Acadians and the Mi’kmaq shared various commonalities, which would offer a platform for them to team up and fight the British. The explanation further goes that the Acadians collaborated with the Mi’kmaq in opposing the British. The British only had an intention to assimilate them, but not until their collaboration with the Mi’kmaq became clear that they would not have any other way out in tackling the situation. The Britons considered the Acadians as a threat to their war with France, considering that they had declined to the oath of allegiance to the British. However, I stand for the view that the move was never justified. The Acadians did not relent to the oath of allegiance because they had fears that the British would still interfere with their life. Secondly, even the deportation of the Acadians was never justified because it was below contempt. Thirdly, the Acadians may never have taken sides, only that they were mistaken for the commonalties they shared with the resistant Mi’kmaq. Although the British were concerned about according the Mi’kmaq and the Acadians a different treatment, the delineations were never stable because creating boundaries between the two groups was difficult. History depicts the British as people who are never justified. Their policies are aimed at serving their vested interested. This is depicted in the form of the legacy of Australian colonization, as well as in the advent of slavery. The British wanted the land in the territories and the only option was to move the Acadians who occupied it.
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