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A Half Century of Conflict - Volume I by Parkman

From Annapolis the French agents


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French agents, La Ronde Denys and Pensens, proceeded to the settlements about Chignecto and the Basin of Mines,--the most populous and prosperous parts of Acadia. Here they were less successful than before. The people were doubtful and vacillating,--ready enough to promise, but slow to perform. While declaring with perfect sincerity their devotion to "our invincible monarch," as they called King Louis, who had just been compelled to surrender their country, they clung tenaciously to the abodes of their fathers. If they had wished to emigrate, the English governor had no power to stop them. From Baye Verte, on the isthmus, they had frequent and easy communication with the French at Louisbourg, which the English did not and could not interrupt. They were armed, and they far outnumbered the English garrison; while at a word they could bring to their aid the Micmac warriors, who had been taught to detest the English heretics as foes of God and man. To say that they wished to leave Acadia, but were prevented from doing so by a petty garrison at the other end of the province, so feeble that it could hardly hold Annapolis itself, is an unjust reproach upon a people who, though ignorant and weak of purpose, were not wanting in physical courage. The truth is that from this time to their forced expatriation in 1755, all the Acadians, except those of Annapolis and its immediate neighborhood, were free to go or stay at will. Those of the eastern parts of the province especially, who formed
the greater part of the population, were completely their own masters. This was well known to the French authorities. The governor of Louisbourg complains of the apathy of the Acadians.[205] Saint-Ovide declares that they do not want to fulfil the intentions of the King and remove to Isle Royale. Costebelle makes the same complaint; and again, after three years of vain attempts to overcome their reluctance, he writes that every effort has failed to induce them to migrate.

From this time forward the state of affairs in Acadia was a peculiar one. By the Treaty of Utrecht it was a British province, and the nominal sovereignty resided at Annapolis, in the keeping of the miserable little fort and the puny garrison, which as late as 1743 consisted of but five companies, counting, when the ranks were full, thirty-one men each.[206] More troops were often asked for, and once or twice were promised; but they were never sent. "This has been hitherto no more than a mock government, its authority never yet having extended beyond cannon-shot of the fort," wrote Governor Philipps in 1720. "It would be more for the honour of the Crown, and profit also, to give back the country to the French, than to be contented with the name only of government."[207] Philipps repaired the fort, which, as the engineer Mascarene says, "had lain tumbling down" before his arrival; but Annapolis and the whole province remained totally neglected and almost forgotten by England till the middle of the century. At one time the soldiers were in so ragged a plight that Lieutenant-Colonel Armstrong was forced to clothe them at his own expense.[208]


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