“But were the Acadians disloyal?” the Colonel asked. “We have been told that they were not, and that all were punished for the indiscretions of a few.”
“That may be so,” and Davidson looked thoughtfully before him. “But the English contend that when the Acadians settled on their lands over forty years before it was with the distinct understanding that they could only retain them by becoming British subjects. But they had not complied with those terms. The English contend that the Acadians did everything in their power to assist the French and embarrass the English. Many of them joined with the Indians in the attacks on the garrison at Annapolis, and on other English fortified posts. They supplied England’s enemies with cattle and grain at Louisbourg, Beausejour, and elsewhere. They acted the part of spies on the English, and maintained a constant correspondence with the French. They were on friendly terms with the Indians, who were such a menace to the English that an English settler could scarcely venture beyond his barn, or a soldier beyond musket shot of his fort for fear of being killed or scalped. That is the English version of the affair which I heard in Halifax. The Acadians deny it, and say it is all false.”
“We heard,” one of the settlers said, “that the Acadians were expelled because the greedy English colonists looked upon their fair farms with covetous eyes, and that the government was influenced by these persons.”
“I have heard that, too,” Davidson replied, “and I have made enquiries about that matter. But I do not believe it is true, because those abandoned farms were not settled by the English until years after the Acadians were expelled, and the lands at Annapolis were not occupied until nine or ten years after the French had left them. Why did not the English colonists settle upon those abandoned farms at once, if they were so anxious to have them? They did nothing of the kind, so I do not think that had anything to do with the expulsion.”
“What was the real cause, then?” Henry Watson asked.
“It was the seriousness of the whole situation. England was just entering upon a great war with France. It was a death-struggle, so there was no room for half-way measures. Feeling ran high, and the English may have become panicky. There was a bitter hatred, too, which may have had something to do with it. The English believed that with so many concealed enemies in the country, and such a large number of open enemies on the borders, their position was far from secure. They thought that the Acadians were beginning to show their real feelings, especially so whenever a rumour reached them that a French fleet was in the Bay of Fundy. Anyway, they at last became so much worked up that they ordered the Acadians to give up the arms they had in their possession, and to take the oath of allegiance to King George. Refusing to take the oath, the Acadians were expelled. You now know both sides of the pathetic affair. The story of the expelled people is generally believed, partly, no doubt, for sentimental reasons. The English may have acted hastily and unwisely, but they contend that there was nothing else to do under the circumstances.”