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A Fractured Foundation: Discontinuities in Acadian Resettlement in Louisiana, 1755-1803

A Fractured Foundation: Discontinuities in Acadian Resettlement in Louisiana, 1755-1803
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    A Fractured Foundation: Discontinuities in Acadian Resettlement in Louisiana, 1755-1803Author(s): LEANNA I. THOMASSource: Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association,  Vol. 55, No.2 (Spring 2014), pp. 198-227Published by: Louisiana Historical AssociationStable URL: 05-01-2019 20:36 UTC   JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a widerange of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity andfacilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at Louisiana Historical Association  is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extendaccess to Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association This content downloaded from on Sat, 05 Jan 2019 20:36:04 UTCAll use subject to   A Fractured Foundation: Discontinuities in Acadian  Resettlement in Louisiana,  1755-1803  5/LEANNA I. THOMAS  Following the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, la  occupied by French Acadian settlers in the northern mainla  region of Acadie/Nova Scotia fell under British control. Over t next fifty years, the Acadians negotiated with British officials signing oaths of allegiance that exempted them from taking u  arms" in instances of conflict between the British, the French,  and the Acadians' Native American neighbors. The Acadians'  political stance of neutrality ultimately failed them, however, and in 1755 British officials deported these "Neutral French." Forced  aboard ships, the Acadians were scattered throughout British  colonies to the south, where military officials hoped they might be  assimilated into British colonial society. This study will consider the effects this dispersal had on the Acadians, and in particular, will examine alterations of their identity as many of them began settling in Spanish Louisiana by 1765.1  *The author currently teaches as an adjunct at the University of Central  Florida and Seminole State College. 'For recent works concerning the imperial rivalry over Acadia, see Phillip A.  Buckner and John G. Reid, eds., The Atlantic Region to Confederation: A History (Toronto, 1994); Geoffrey G. Plank, An Unsettled Conquest: The British Campaign  Against the Peoples of Acadia (Philadelphia, 2001); and John G. Reid, et al., The  'Conquest' of Acadia, 1710: Imperial, Colonial, and Absrcinal Constructions  (Toronto, 2004). For studies of northern Acadian history, see Naomi E. Griffiths,  198 This content downloaded from on Sat, 05 Jan 2019 20:36:04 UTCAll use subject to   DISCONTINUITIES IN ACADIAN RESETTLEMENT 199  For over one hundred years, historians have explor  construct of Acadian identity. In early studies of the northern society, scholars François-Edmé Rameau d  (1877) and Bona Arsenault (1966) told of the develop  Acadian nationalistic identity prior to their deportati  1970s and 1980s, historians built on these works by more analytical studies of when and how a shared ethni  came to exist. For example, in The Acadians (1973), Naomi  Griffiths observes that in "working toward the envisaged end of  their own independence" the Acadians came to share a "tremendous social cohesion."2 In relying on the definition of  "Acadian" provided by the works of St. Père, Arsenault, and  Griffiths, historian Carl Brasseaux tells how the families who arrived in Louisiana remained "Acadians" up until the turn of the  nineteenth century. Brasseaux argues that as they settled in  Louisiana, the Acadians' former "group cohesiveness" and "fierce  independence" remained key attributes of their society.3  In contrast to Brasseaux's work that focuses on the  continuities of Acadian identity, this study will explore e  of discontinuities between pre- and post-dispersal Ac  societies. As a result of the continued debate concerni  dispersal Acadian identity, this study will build on mor  works that shed new light on its construct. For example, French scholar André Magord argued that in the 1700s a  collective identity could not be formally "claimed," yet the settlers  in Acadie shared a "hope of sustaining a separate socio-economic  form of organization."4 Based on Magord's study, this work will acknowledge that the pre-dispersal Acadians did not perfectly fit within the definition of a "nation," yet they shared a common  From Migrant to Acadian: A North American Border People, 1604-1755(Montreal,  2005) and John M. Faragher, A Great and Noble Scheme: The Tragic Story of the  Expulsion of the French Acadians from Their American Homeland (New York,  2005).  2François-Edmé Rameau de Saint-Père, Une colonie féodale en Amérique:  TAcadie, 1604-1881, 2 vols. (Paris, 1889), 1:159-60; Bona Arsenault, History of the  Acadians (Québec, 1966), 62; and Naomi E. Griffiths, The Acadians: Creation of a  Peopled Toronto, 1973), 13, 21, 28, 36, 75 (quotes 18, 36).  3Carl A. Brasseaux, The Founding of New Acadia: The Beginnings of Acadian  Life in Louisiana, 1765-1803 (Baton Rouge, 1987), 1-19 (quotes 3, 16).  4André Magord, The Quest for Autonomy in Acadia (Brussels, 2008), 34. This content downloaded from on Sat, 05 Jan 2019 20:36:04 UTCAll use subject to   200 LOUISIANA HISTORY  desire to preserve their way of lif lifestyle, they joined together to neutrality by distancing thems  and forming their own kind of self  The Acadians' deportation upse  studies explore various social, cultural, and political con  sequences of their exile. For example, in Les Réfugiés Acadiens  en France, 1758-1785(2009), Jean-François Mouhot explains that  Acadian families who arrived in France were far from united in  interacting with the French government as they worked toward  securing financial aid and determining where to live. Mouhot  explores "the strong divisions among the Acadians living in  France, the assimilation of a great number of them, [and] their  indecision when choosing a new destination."6 In The Acadian  Diaspora (2012), Christopher Hodson examines the complexities of Acadian-imperial relations during their exile. He tells how Acadians chose to "tailor themselves" to survive in interacting with the imperial powers and observes that Acadians faced "a  world of loss, change, and frequently, malice among onetime  compatriots" as they struggled to exist amidst the throes of  imperial ambitions.7  Through the Acadians' various experiences in exile and resettlement, those in Louisiana no longer held the cohesion  necessary to fully reestablish their former way of life. In terms of  discontinuity, this study will explore how in the South the Acadians lost their shared goal of neutrality, failed to reconstruct their pre-dispersal system of autonomy, and faced growing class  stratification with the emergence of slaveholding in their society.  Loss of Neutrality  On arriving in Louisiana, the Acadians discovered that just as  French Acadie had been lost to the British in the early 1700s,  French Louisiana was now in the process of being handed over to  5Ibid., 36.  6Jean-François Mouhot, Les Réfugiés Acadiens en France, 1758-1785: L'im  possible Réintégration (Québec, 2009), 29-37 (quote 33).  'Christopher Hodson, The Acadian Diaspora: An Eighteenth-Century History  (Oxford, 2012), 3-14. This content downloaded from on Sat, 05 Jan 2019 20:36:04 UTCAll use subject to   DISCONTINUITIES IN ACADIAN RESETTLEMENT 201  the Spanish government. The transfer of this region was  complicated, and from 1766-1770 Spanish occupation of  Louisiana was limited. Instead, many French political and  military leaders continued to hold important positions in  managing the colony.8 When they arrived in the region, the  Acadians interacted with Frenchmen who struggled with serving  both France and Spain and who also faced the constant threat of the neighboring British. In particular, French Governor Charles  Phillipe Aubry and Commissaire-Ordonnateur Denis-Nicolas  Foucault tried to help the Acadians get settled, hoping that the  new arrivals might join with other Frenchmen to serve the  Spanish well in such uncertain times.9 In comparing the  development of the Acadian relationship with Spain to their  former relationship with the empires in the North, a significant dichotomy quickly emerges: the Acadians were more reliant on Spain than they were on the empires in the North, while at the  same time Spain was more reliant on the Acadians than Britain  or France had been. As a result, the Acadians in Louisiana no longer could be categorized as the "Neutral French."10  Concerning the imperial rivalry over Louisiana see David J. Weber, The  Spanish Frontier in North America: The Brief Edition (New Haven, Conn., 2009)  and Bradley G. Bond, ed., French Colonial Louisiana and the Atlantic World  (Baton Rouge, 2005).  9Aubry, Governor of Louisiana, to the Duke of Choiseul-Stainville, Secretary of  the French Navy, Archives des Colonies, hereafter cited as ADC, C13a, 45:41-2,  February 25, 1765 in Carl A. Brasseaux, et al., ed., Quest for the Promised Land:  Official Correspondence Relating to the First Acadian Migration to Louisiana,  1764-1769, (Lafayette, La., 1989), 31; Aubry to Choiseul-Stainville, ADC C13a,  45:47-52, April 24, 1765, ibid., 40-1, and Foucault to the Duc de Choiseul  Stainville, ADC C13a, 45:118-19, May 13,1765 , ibid., 48-9.  10Acadian neutrality continues to be debated among scholars. There were  instances when Acadians had little choice but to take sides, for example in 1750  when French official Louis de la Corne sent Mi'kmaq men to burn Acadian homes. Out of their need for survival these Acadian families moved near Fort Beauséjour  where Acadian men helped defend the fort in return for provisions from the  government. However, most scholars recognize that the majority of Acadians "had  not taken arms in military activities," prior to deportation. See Maurice Basque, "The Third Acadia: Political Adaptation and Societal Change," in Reid, et al., The  'Conquest' of Acadia, 155-77 (quote, 177); Magord, Quest for Autonomy, 35-42;  Naomi Griffiths, The Contexts of Acadian History, 1686-1784 (Montreal, 1992), 41-2, A. J. B. Johnston, "French Attitudes Toward the Acadians, ca. 1680-1756,"  in Ronnie-Gilles Leblanc, Du Grand Dérangement à la Déportation: Nouvelles Perspectives Historiques (Moncton, 2005), 145-46; and Faragher, A Great and  Noble Scheme, 151-80. Concerning the burning of Acadian homes and their move This content downloaded from on Sat, 05 Jan 2019 20:36:04 UTCAll use subject to
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