Primary Source Minutes From Council Thesis
- Length: 4 pages
- Subject: Government
- Type: Thesis
- Paper: #38877959
Excerpt from Thesis :
..]we are not on that account, by any means guilty" (p. 71). The British response to this, however, was extreme -- eventually in the expulsion and mass migration of the Acadians, but more immediately in the reaction of the council to the Acadians' memorials. They determined that the Acadians who had presented the memorials were "arrogant and insidious[...]and were severely reprimanded for their Audacity in Subscribing and Presenting so impertinent a Paper" (p. 73). The council determines that it should again read the memorials point-by-point, but not in an effort to understand and negotiate with the Acadians, which would be beneath the dignity of the monarchy, but rather this process was undertaken to "shew them the falsity as well as Impudence of the Contents of their Memorial" (p. 73). This systematic refutation and condemnation of the memorials, and the resultant decision to once again offer the oath of allegiance and then expel those who do not take it, comprises the bulk of the rest of the document.
These refutations by the British of the Arcadian complaints and requests were often vague and improvable if not wholly unfounded. In response to their not unreasonable and fairly self-evident claim that they were "affected with the Proceedings of the Government towards them," they were told "That they had always been treated by the Government with the greatest Lenity and Tenderness;" they asked for their canoes and were flat-out told that they only wanted them to carry "Provisions to the Enemy;" when they explained that letting them keep their guns would not cause rebellion, just as taking them away would not cause loyalty, they were asked how they could treat "the Government with such Indignity and Contempt as to Expound to them the nature of Fideility" (p. 74, 5, 6). This belies an utter lack of respect not only for the Arcadians' sense of government and fairness, but also for the Arcadians simply as humans capable of rational thought and deserving of some sort of equitable consideration.
This attitude is borne out in several other places, as well. In explaining the British government's confiscation of the Arcadians guns, the council notes that "By the Laws of England, All Roman Catholicks [sic] are restrained from having Arms" (p. 75). Though this religious contempt and disregard was not new or limited only to the New World colonies, it still has an important bearing on the Lawrence government's treatment of the Acadians. Another indicator in the utter disregard with which this council held their French subjects comes early in their response, when they condescend to answer the various points of the Arcadians' petition "in Compassion to their Weakness and Ignorance" (p. 73). It is not just the inequality inherent to the monarch-subject relationship that exists in this council meeting's minutes, but also that of the subjugated and the subjected; of ethnocentrism and might-is-right philosophy; frankly, of plain old bigotry.
The end of this document records the small group of Acadians attendant being granted another opportunity to take the oath of allegiance or face expulsion from the colony. They are not allowed to consult with the rest of their group, however, being considered each individual subjects of the land. They deliberate amongst themselves for an hour, and return to refuse, whereupon they are imprisoned. Here the document ends, but the history does not. As a result of this meeting -- the culmination of decades of uncertainty -- the Acadians were largely expelled from Nova Scotia (though pockets of resistance remained); migrants went to Quebec and eventually some went all the way down to Louisiana, where in the 19th Century their name of "Acadian" became "Cajun" in the local jargon. It is often difficult -- impossible, even -- to predict the extent of the impact a simple meeting in a backwoods colony can have, This meeting was important not only…