"Altogether superb: an accessible, fluent account that advances scholarship while building a worthy memorial to the victims of two and a half centuries past." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
In 1755, New England troops embarked on a "great and noble scheme" to expel 18,000 French-speaking Acadians ("the neutral French") from Nova Scotia, killing thousands, separating innumerable families, and driving many into forests where they waged a desperate guerrilla resistance. The right of neutrality; to live in peace from the imperial wars waged between France and England; had been one of the founding values of Acadia; its settlers traded and intermarried freely with native Mikmaq Indians and English Protestants alike. But the Acadians' refusal to swear unconditional allegiance to the British Crown in the mid-eighteenth century gave New Englanders, who had long coveted Nova Scotia's fertile farmland, pretense enough to launch a campaign of ethnic cleansing on a massive scale. John Mack Faragher draws on original research to weave 150 years of history into a gripping narrative of both the civilization of Acadia and the British plot to destroy it.
Faragher relates, in all its complex, searingly sad details, the story of how the hapless French Acadians were run out of their Nova Scotia homes a story known to most from Longfellow's Evangeline. Caught between French and British empires, these peaceful farming and fishing families, descendants of French settlers, struggled to maintain their neutrality and their birthright ways. But in 1755, British and colonial New England forces rounded them up and dispersed them by sea throughout North America. Families were broken up; hundreds died on their voyages; their towns were torched; and only small, scattered communities, like the Cajuns of Louisiana, survived into the modern era. "The removal of the Acadians," concludes Faragher (the Yale biographer of Daniel Boone), "was the first episode of state-sponsored ethnic cleansing in American history." More than that, the communities destroyed, some 150 years old, had lived peaceably and intermarried with the Mikmaq natives of the Canadian shores. A way of life that could have been a harbinger of our own era of diversity was destroyed. Unfortunately, the book overwhelms the reader with detail, as if Faragher wanted to set down every fact of Acadian history so it would never again be lost. Instead, it is readers who'll be lost in this gripping tale of a dishonorable affair in American history. B&w illus.
A Great and Noble Scheme
A well researched and thorough account of how the Acadian Expulsion (Le Grand Derangement) was able to happen during Colonial times in North America.