Because of his fear of a possible French counteroffensive and because the Acadians refused to take an unqualified oath of allegiance, Lawrence and his Council in Halifax had unanimously agreed on July 28  to deport all the Acadian inhabitants and “to send them to be distributed amongst the several Colonies.” This was a military decision made by an inflexible and insecure military man. [...] On receiving his orders from Lawrence, Monckton commanded the New England troops to begin the nasty business of burning the Acadian settlements, slaughtering their livestock, and herding the Acadians like cattle to various ports along the Bay of Fundy. Some of the volunteers found the command “surprising” and “Very Disagreeable” to their “Natural make and Temper,” but they nevertheless obeyed. It has been estimated that between 6,000 and 7,000 Acadian men, women, and children, out of a total Acadian population on peninsular Nova Scotia of no more than 9,000 were deported during the last four months of 1755.
...We are now upon a great and noble Scheme of sending the neutral French out of this Province, who have always been secret Enemies, and have encouraged our Savages to cut out Throats. If we effect their Expulsion, it will be one of the greatest Things that ever the English did in America; for by all Accounts, that Part of the Country they possess, is as good Land as any in the World: In case therefore we could get some good English Farmers in their Room, this Province would abound with all Kinds of Provisions.
Prior to the development and introduction of industrial weaponry, readers [of Faragher's 'A Great and Noble Scheme'] learn, deliberate mass murder was not a consistent part of the ethnic cleansing formula. This distinction is useful but academic. Whether or not the British intended to commit murder on top of theft, the hardships created by the expulsion campaign led to the death of approximately 55 percent of the Acadian population. Long before Faragher concludes his gripping account, the reader recognizes that the Acadian experience may have been the first of its kind in North America but certainly was not the last.
The 19th century overflowed with incidents of, as Faragher put it in a recent Salon interview, "an organized campaign, at the state level, organized and hierarchically carried out, to remove all the people of a small nation and ship them elsewhere." The Removal Era of the early 19th century, for example, included a series of military operations that relocated and decimated dozens of American Indian nations, spanned decades, and cost tens of thousands of lives. The most visible example became known as the Trail of Tears, which also resulted in a catastrophic death toll (perhaps as much as 30 percent of the population), this time for the Cherokee Nation. Looking backward through the late-20th-century lens of ethnic cleansing brings two conclusions into clear focus. First, it reveals how long the tradition of state-sponsored theft, removal, and cultural obliteration has existed in North America. Indeed, it is part of the very fabric of United States history. Though ethnic cleansing reached its peak when perpetrated by the U.S. government against the indigenous nations, its past is by no means limited to Anglo-Amerindian encounters.
As the non-Aboriginal population increased, Aboriginal peoples — mostly First Nations — ceased to be treated as independent nations and were settled on reserves. There, Aboriginal bands were organized under the supervision of Indian Department superintendents or agents. No longer military diplomats, but local managers of reserve land and band affairs, they encouraged Aboriginal people to farm, become self-supporting by non-traditional means and generally live like the surrounding population. Schools and churches were usually provided. These activities were organized by a civilian Indian Department — the precursor to Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) — which replaced the military authority in 1830. The establishment of common property in reserves and band funds, special legislation and treaty rights led to the development of the legal concept of status. Some persons of Aboriginal ancestry — Métis and Non-Status Indians — never qualified for status or lost it in a variety of ways. In April 2016, however, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the legal definition of “Indian” include Métis and Non-Status Indians.The ultimate goal of Aboriginal policy in most of the post-Confederation period was to eliminate all status by assimilation and enfranchisement. This legal process has never been popular with Aboriginal people and has failed in its overall objective.
In the weeks that followed, patrols scoured the countryside in search of more prisoners and to round up livestock. Families still at large took to the woods as the soldiers approached, as did the wives and children of men locked up in the fort. The soldiers were under orders from Lawrence to burn every house and barn in a campaign to deprive the holdouts of shelter and to force them to surrender. “Destroy all the villages ... and use every other method of distress” to flush out anyone hiding in the woods, he instructed Monckton. Day after day columns of smoke rose over the ridges and marshes, charting the soldiers’ path of destruction. John Thomas, the surgeon’s mate with the New England troops, recorded in his diary that one patrol returned to camp with several prisoners after having “Burnt Several Fine Viliges.” Another detachment bragged of torching 200 buildings in just three days. The search-and-destroy missions continued well into the fall. Thomas accompanied a large force deep into the river valleys of southern New Brunswick in mid-November. His diary entries are sparse on detail, but still evoke stark images of a war-ravaged countryside dotted with empty, desolate villages and blackened ruins. In the Memramcook area, the troops surrounded a group of houses at daybreak, muskets at the ready. All were vacant except one, where nine women and children were found cowering in the cold, most of them sick. The soldiers set fire to about thirty houses, rounded up as many cattle and horses as they could, “Brought away one woman,” and apparently left the rest of the miserable Acadians to fend for themselves.
From Wikimedia Commons, File:18th Century British Army parade.jpg Author: Tommc73 (uploaded 1 May 2016). File is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.