Acadian-Cajun Timeline, 1603-1805

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The following historical timeline of events relating to the Acadians-Cajuns was extracted from the Maine Name Lists and Louisiana Name Lists books, written by my good friend, William Dollarhide. The area of present Maine was at one time claimed by both the French colony of Acadia and the English colony of Massachusetts Bay. After the British-imposed expulsion of the Acadians, their final gathering point was concentrated in Spanish Louisiana. Upon the Louisiana Purchase, these new Americans were often called “Cajuns.” The timeline here reflects the history of the founding of French Acadia, their battles with the British, their expulsion, and their gathering in Louisiana.

1603. French nobleman Pierre DuGua (Sieur DeMonts) was granted exclusive rights to colonize the area he had named l’Acadie (Acadia), granted by French King Henry IV. The area of Acadia included all of present Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and most of Maine.

1604 Acadia. DeMonts established a French colony on St. Croix Island, at the mouth of the St. Croix River, now Maine. After surviving a bad Winter, the entire colony was moved across the Bay of Fundy to Port-Royal, now Nova Scotia.

1611. From his base in Port-Royal, Acadia, French Jesuit Priest Pierre Baird, crossed the Bay of Fundy to an island on the Penobscot River of present Maine, where he established an Indian mission.

1613. Father Baird and others attempted a new French mission on Mount Desert Island (present Maine), but soon after their arrival, they were arrested by English Captain Samuel Argall of the Jamestown Colony.

1689-1690. King William’s War. Soon after they were crowned, William III and Mary II joined a European alliance against France, and the subsequent battles became known as King William’s War. In 1689, several battles took place, including the French attack on Saco, Maine; followed by the English attack and destruction of the French Acadia capital of Port-Royal in 1690.

1696. During King Williams’s War, French forces from Pentagouet (present Castine, Maine) attacked and destroyed the English settlement at Pemaquid (present Bristol, Maine). Pemaquid was the northernmost community of New England, lying on the border with French Acadia. The French community of Pentagouet was the southernmost settlement of French Acadia. After the Siege of Pemaquid, the French forces continued north and destroyed virtually every English settlement in Newfoundland, and deported over 500 people back to England. In retaliation, the English attacked and destroyed more Acadian communities, including present Fredericton, New Brunswick.

1702. Queen Anne’s War. This was a decisive war in the series of conflicts between France and England. Battles took place in New England, Newfoundland, Québec and Acadia. One notable event was the brutal French/Indian raid on Deerfield, Massachusetts in 1704, where the surviving English colonists were forced to march to Québec as hostages. The English Queen Anne succeeded to the throne after the death of Mary II, her older sister, and William III, who died in 1702 without issue. Queen Anne’s reign of 1702-1714 was about the same duration as the war that took her name. The English prevailed in most of the battles, and the war marked a turning point for the success of English interests over the French in North America.

1713. The Peace of Utrecht ended Queen Anne’s War. France ceded to Great Britain its claims to Newfoundland, Hudsons Bay, and the peninsular part of French Acadia, which the British had renamed Nova Scotia. The British took possession of the peninsula area and required the Acadians to swear allegiance to Britain or leave. The continental part of Acadia (including areas of present Maine and New Brunswick) remained in French control and a number of displaced Acadians from the British side moved across the Bay of Fundy to lands near the St. John and St. Croix rivers.

1718. La Nouvelle-Orleans (New Orleans) was founded by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne (Sieur de Bienville). It was named for Philippe II, Duke of Orleans, the Regent of France. That year saw hundreds of French colonists arriving in Louisiana.

1719. Baton Rouge was established by the French as a military post.

1721 Arkansas Post. French and German colonists abandoned Arkansas Post, the largest settlement of all of French Louisiana. As a failed farming community, Arkansas Post was typical of the French efforts to colonize North America south of the Great Lakes. Arkansas Post continued as a trading post, and the French presence in the Mississippi Basin now became one of mostly single French fur trappers and traders paddling their canoes from one trading post to the next.

1721 German Coast. A group of German immigrants, who had first settled at Arkansas Post, acquired farm land on the east side of the Mississippi River north of New Orleans. Many of them were formerly of the German-speaking Alsace-Lorraine area of France. They easily adapted themselves to the French culture of Louisiana, and later intermarried with the French Acadians coming into the same area. Their main settlements were at Karlstein, Hoffen, Mariental, and Augsburg, all part of the German Coast. The farms they operated were to become the main source of food for New Orleans for decades.

1755-1758 Expulsion of the Acadians. At the beginning of the French and Indian War, the British completed their conquest of Acadia, and in 1755, began forcibly removing Acadians from their homes. (The British remembered the forced deportations imposed by the French against the English in Newfoundland back in 1696). The first expulsions were to the lower British colonies but in 1758 they began transporting Acadians back to France. Those Acadians who avoided deportation made their way to other French-speaking areas, such as present Québec, present New Brunswick, or present Maine. For an historical reference to the era, re-read Longfellow’s poem, “Evangeline,” which was based on the events of the Acadian expulsions.

1763. The Treaty of Paris of 1763 ended the French and Indian War (it was called the Seven Years War in Canada and Europe). France was the big loser, and lost virtually all of its remaining North American claims. The areas east of the Mississippi and all of Acadia/Nova Scotia and Québec were lost to Britain; the areas west of the Mississippi went to Spain. After the Treaty of Paris, George III issued a proclamation renaming the Province of Québec as the Province of Canada. He also issued the Proclamation Line of 1763, in which Indian Reserves were established west of the Appalachian Mountain Range, limiting western migrations by all of the British colonies. Soon after the treaty, all French military personnel left their North American posts. But, French civilian settlements continued in Lower Louisiana, such as New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Arkansas Post, and Natchez; and in Upper Louisiana, such as Prairie du Chien, Kaskaskia, and Vincennes. Spain did not take military control of Spanish Louisiana until 1766 (at New Orleans) and 1770 (at St. Louis).

1764-1765 Acadian Coast. Per terms of the Treaty of Paris, the British were given the right to remove the remaining French Acadians, but agreed to provide resettlement assistance. The destinations were not always clear, and the displaced Acadians were sometimes loaded onto ships headed to Boston, New York, Baltimore, Norfolk, Charleston, Savannah, or Mobile. After a few initial families made their way to New Orleans via Mobile in early 1764, several shiploads of Acadians arrived in New Orleans in early 1765. Their first settlements were on the west side of the Mississippi River, near the present areas of St. James and Ascension Parishes. That first area became known as the Acadian Coast. Today there are 22 parishes of Louisiana considered part of Acadiana, a modern description of the region of southern Louisiana west of the Mississippi River first settled by French Acadians. For more details on the first Acadians in Louisiana, visit the Acadian-Cajun Genealogy & History website. See www.acadian-cajun.com/hiscaj2b.htm.

1766. Antonio de Ulloa became the first Spanish governor of Louisiana, headquartered at New Orleans. He was a brilliant scientist (discoverer of the element Platinum), highly regarded by Spanish Royalty, but rose to his highest level of incompetence as a military leader.

1768. The Louisiana Rebellion of 1768 was an attempt by a combined armed force of French Acadians, French Creoles and German Coast settlers around New Orleans to stop the handover of French La Louisiane to Spain. The rebels forced Spanish Governor de Ulloa to leave New Orleans and return to Spain, but his replacement Alejandro O’Reilly was able to crush the rebellion. O’Reilly, an Irishman turned Cuban, was responsible for establishing military rule in Spanish Louisiana.

1777-1778. During the Revolutionary War, a number of French-speaking Acadians from Louisiana joined their counterparts from the leftover French settlements of Kaskaskia and Vincennes. They were added to the Virginia Militia force commanded by General George Rogers Clark. General Clark later noted that the fiercely anti-British fighters he gained from the French communities contributed greatly to his monumental victories against the British in the conquest of the Old Northwest.

1783 United States of America. The treaty of Paris of 1783 first recognized the United States as an independent nation, with borders from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River, and from present Maine to Georgia. The treaty also reaffirmed the claims of Britain to present Canada; and Spain’s claim to East Florida, West Florida, New Spain (including Nuevo Mexico & Tejas), and Louisiana west of the Mississippi River.

1800-1802 Louisiana. In Europe, Napoleon defeated the Spanish in battle and gained title to Louisiana again after trading them a couple of duchies in Italy. However, Napoleon found that his troops in the Caribbean were under siege and unable to provide much help in establishing a French government in Louisiana. Several months later, when American emissaries showed up in Paris trying to buy New Orleans from him, Napoleon decided to unload the entire tract. – legally described as “the drainage of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.”

1803 Louisiana Purchase. President Thomas Jefferson urged Congress to vote in favor, and the U.S. purchased the huge area from France, doubling the size of the United States. But, disputed claims to areas of Lower Louisiana now existed between Spain and the U.S., in particular, the area between the Red River and Sabine River in present Louisiana; and the area of West Florida, east of the Mississippi River.

1804-1805. In 1804, Congress divided the Louisiana Purchase into two jurisdictions: Louisiana District and Orleans Territory. The latter had north and south bounds the same as the present state of Louisiana, but did not include its present Florida Parishes, and its northwest corner extended on an indefinite line west into Spanish Tejas. The first capital of Orleans Territory was New Orleans. For a year, Louisiana District was attached to Indiana Territory for judicial administration, but became Louisiana Territory with its own Governor on July 4, 1805. St. Louis was the first capital of Louisiana Territory.

1812. April 30th. The same area as old Orleans Territory became Louisiana, the 18th state in the Union. New Orleans became the first state capital.

1812. June 4th. Louisiana Territory was renamed Missouri Territory. For about five weeks in 1812, a Louisiana Territory and a State of Louisiana existed at the same time.

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