The Acadian Diaspora

Christopher Hodson

in Atlantic History

ISBN: 9780199730414
Published online April 2011 | | DOI:
The Acadian Diaspora

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Late in 1755, an army of British regulars and Massachusetts volunteers undertook what one officer described as a “disagreeable” duty: deporting the entire Acadian population of the province of Nova Scotia. Within weeks, the soldiers managed to arrest about 7,000 civilians, or about half of the province’s French-speaking Catholic settlers. Over the next three years, Anglo-American troops captured 3,000 more Acadians on Île Saint-Jean (now Prince Edward Island) and in present-day New Brunswick. During and after the Seven Years’ War, those who escaped the British assault established footholds on the shores of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. The rest, however, were shipped off to a dizzying array of destinations. Between 1763 and the mid-1780s, thousands of Acadians turned up in the port cities of British North America, England, and France; the Caribbean colonies of Saint-Domingue, Martinique, and Guiana; the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic, and experimental colonies on Belle-Île-en-Mer and in the French province of Poitou. Although many of the exiles’ descendants remained in these scattered locations, others gathered again, establishing new communities in the Saint Lawrence valley, the Canadian Maritimes, and Louisiana, where they came to be known as Cajuns. This long run of deportations and displacements, then, is the grand dérangement—the “great upheaval” or, in modern terms, the Acadian diaspora. Since the 19th century, scholars have written much about these events. They have dissected Anglo-American motives and explored the Acadians’ persistence as a distinctive minority, all while examining the grand dérangement both in its 18th-century context and (more recently) in relation to modern episodes of coerced migration. The works detailed below represent the most important trends in the historiography of this still-understudied topic.

Article.  5826 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas ; European History ; African History ; History ; Regional and National History

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