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tory. The particular event on which the poem is founded, attracts but little the notice of historians. The transaction was only one in a mighty series of events, which were convulsing Europe and America. It took place in a remote corner of the earth, and affected the fates and fortunes of a humble people, who were but slightly connected with the great destinies of the world. It will be seen how exactly and how closely Mr. Longfellow has followed the fate of these unhappy men.
The name of Acadie is derived from the Indian appellation of a river in what is now called Acadia or Nova Scotia, which being so far from Canada as to be quite beyond military assistance from that province, had repeatedly fallen into the hands of the English, before it was finally ceded to them by the French king, in the treaty of 1713. The French Govern
ment, says the Abbè Raynal, never knew the value of this possession, although they should have found an interest in it, from the fact that it was the first region in America colonized by Frenchmen. The first permanent European settlement made north of America, was made at Port Royal, now Annapolis, by the French, in 1604.
By the treaty of 1713, the sovereignty of the colony was transferred to England, but the English seem to have cared little for their new acquisition. They stationed a small garrison at Port Royal, giving its present name to that place; but no emigration of any consequence followed, not five English families entering the colony for more than forty years.
The French colonists, who were transferred by this treaty to new masters, were only induced to take the oaths of allegiance to the
English crown, with this express qualification, that they should not be called upon to bear arms in defence of the province. This qualification was suggested by their unwillingness to fight against the French or the Indians, with whom they had contracted alliances. General Phillips, who was charged with administering the oaths, assented to this consideration. It is said that the king of England objected to it, when informed of it; the oaths, however, were never taken, or for many years proposed in any new form. These French colonists were always known in the subsequent struggles, as "the neutral French." What is remarkable in the matter, is, that no further steps were taken to secure their neutrality; no magistrates were ever appointed over them, no rents or taxes exacted from them. They were in the happiest of all
possible positions,—that of a people forgotten by an arbitrary government.
The war of the Succession ended in that quarter by the capture, by the English and provincial forces, of the French fort, Beau Sejour, an encroachment on this territory. It was then charged against these people, that they had furnished the French and Indians with intelligence, quarters, provisions, and assistance, and that three hundred of them were found in arms at Beau Sejour. To such as had not been found in arms, it is said the offer had been made by the English, that they might keep their land, if they would take the oath of allegiance without any qualification. Whether this offer was really made, it does not appear, but if it were, it was rejected.
In the capitulation of Beau Sejour, the
English had consented that the inhabitants should be left in the same situation as they were in when the army arrived, and not be punished for what they had done afterwards. Notwithstanding this stipulation, however, after the surrender, the Lieut.-Governor of Nova Scotia, with his council, and the British admirals, agreed summarily, if they drove the inhabitants away from the country, on the charges named above, they would go to recruit the French armies in Canada,-it would be better at once "to disperse them among the British colonies, where they could not unite in any offensive measures.'
This conclusion was carefully concealed from the Acadians, until they had gathered in their harvest, which the conquerors needed. The secret was perfectly kept, and a cunning proclamation issued, bidding the inhabitants