When Genealogy Meets History

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In
my first appearance on LRC ("An
‘Alien’ Patriot
"), I introduced myself as an immigrant
and a patriot who wished for the re-establishment of the Constitution
of the U.S. and the governing of this country by the people
and for the people. Then I read John Keller's essay titled
"Forget
the Constitution
," and I've been reading and thinking about
this "citizenship" circus.

I
know we all realize that most of you LRC readers and writers understand
this country and this government much better than I, simply because
I come from another country (Canada), even if it's not that far
away. However, because I am an immigrant in the U.S., I have first
hand experience of what it's like to be an "alien," which
is what I first chose to share with you (while having a little fun
with the INS citizenship exam).

While
it is true that according to the U.S. government I am an "alien,"
as far as I'm concerned, the only true immigrant in my family arrived
in North America in 1654. If our calculations are correct, I am
one of the descendents of the 10th generation since he
came here. That man, who is obviously not here to comment on the
current immigration issues, is nevertheless the one who made it
possible for me to be on this side of the pond today.

Because
of him, and like most of you, I have a deep love for freedom and
for this land we call America, except that mine extends from
Louisiana to Quebec without stopping at the government-made Maine
border. My ancestors called it la Nouvelle France and a group
of them once founded a place we call l'Acadie.

As
I learned about my ancestors and the Acadian people in the past
few years, their story has become a daily source of inspiration
in my life for both freedom and courage. Somewhere along the way,
they've become my heroes, although there is nothing glamorous about
their story and their faith, except maybe the extraordinary courage
they showed in standing up for what they believed in and what they
had come to America to find: liberty and freedom.

Acadie
or Acadia was born in 1604 when a small group of Frenchmen arrived
on the coast of today's Nova Scotia, and established the first European
settlement in North America (in modern times of course).

By
the time my own ancestor arrived in Port Royal, Acadia thrived as
a colony, independently from France, and it was mostly self-sufficient.
In Acadia, the people quickly rejected the idea of being "French
subjects" and they adopted a new identity: they called themselves
Acadiens and Acadiennes.

Most
Acadians farmed and they used a system they called les aboiteaux
to irrigate lands the sea would have normally claimed with its high
tides. The ingenious system of dykes let rain water run out, while
it prevented seawater from flooding the fields with the daily tides.

For
150 years, while England and France fought over the territory they
occupied, Acadians prospered peacefully and by 1755, historians
estimate that there were 14,000 to 15,000 Acadian souls in the area.
In addition, Acadians were said to have developed some of the best
cultivable lands and farming techniques in North America. As a people,
though, they always refused to engage in the French-English hostilities,
declaring themselves neutral, which in turn gave them the
appropriate nickname of "French neutrals."

Interestingly
enough, Acadians might have even been the first people to vote
in North America, as it appears that they gathered, discussed, and
then voted on issues of matters to their communities.

Acadians
owned guns to defend themselves, their families, properties, and
to hunt, but they had no fortress or no army to defend the lands
they occupied. They certainly did not have the numbers to face an
aggressor like the Brutish Empire. In addition, Acadie had
no definite borders, it was not recognized as a country, it had
no government-run "citizenship" program and, at this point,
research tells us that they were a people that did not have a formal
government either. While new discoveries about the Acadian people
may prove all of this wrong one day, so far everything seem to be
consistent with a somewhat government-free society.

Throughout
history, however, Acadians have been perceived as a group of desperately
honest and hopelessly ignorant and poor people. Additionally, the
subsistence living they practiced was often viewed as laziness.
But, as historian Carl Brasseaux points out in his book Acadian
to Cajun: the Transformation of a People
, Acadians seemed
to have aspired only to a good life.

In
predispersal Acadia and in the early years of settlement in
Louisiana, the Acadians were not materialistic in the modern
sense. They aspired only to a comfortable existence, and though
they consistently produced small agricultural surpluses for
sale to acquire commodities they could not themselves produce,
they did not labor to produce cash surpluses for the sake of
possessing specific material goods, particularly the trapping
of high social status. Thus, though significant economic differences
existed among individuals, the poorest predispersal Acadian
considered himself no less worthy than his wealthiest neighbor.

All
this being said, the British did not appreciate the Acadians' neutrality
on their territory. They demanded allegiance and they pressured
Acadians into taking an "oath of allegiance" to the crown
of England. Acadians refused, mostly because they wanted to maintain
their Catholic religion and their French language, something the
Royal Pain at the time would not grant.

In
reality, the "oath" business simply gave the Brits, who
coveted Acadian lands for their own colonists, an excuse to do what
we would today call "ethnic cleansing" or "genocide."
The irony is that today's PC crowd usually refers to the Acadians'
story as the Acadian odyssey or le grand dérangement
(the great disturbance). Nice way to put it, no doubts, and one
might add that Acadians were merely a "small casualty"
in a big war, or the "collateral damage" of their time.

One
morning in 1755, British soldiers took over the Acadian community
of Grand Pré by first rounding up the men in the church.
They locked them in, confiscated their guns, and gave women and
children the order to evacuate their homes, only taking what they
could carry with them. In the church, Acadians were read a "deportation
order" (that is still in the books today, although not enforced),
which gave Brit soldiers the legal right to confiscate homes,
lands, cattle, crops…everything, and the right to deport the Acadian
people, which they did.

For
months, and community by community, Acadians were rounded up in
the same fashion and were deported by boats, landing all over America
and all over the world. Between 1755 and 1758, an estimated 11,000
Acadians were deported in this manner while another 3,000 is said
to have hidden in the woods, surviving however they could, often
times with the help of the natives whom had been their friends since
the early days of the colony.

Half
of the people who were deported died in the ordeal mostly from starvation
and diseases giving the unsanitary conditions of the boats, and
more died in the woods from starvation or from freezing to death.
Soldiers killed a few more on the spot as they attempted to escape.
(Link
to article about letter from British Major-General John Winslow.
)

Acadians
were sent everywhere as families were forever torn apart. Some landed
in prisons in Liverpool, while others were sent back to France where
they no longer belonged. Some were kept in prison in Halifax and
in today's New Brunswick, and some landed in the New England colonies,
often times in prisons there as well. Additionally, in the "American"
colonies, Acadians were often not allowed to even disembark the
boats where they had no food, and it sometimes went on for months.

Simply
put, Acadians were not welcomed anywhere and many were imprisoned
all over the world just because they were Acadians, Catholic, and
they spoke French. Moreover, even the Acadians who did take
the "oath of allegiance" to the wicked crown of England
were deported. It was just an excuse.

While
all of this is going on, British subjects take over Acadian homes
and lands, but they did not know how to operate the system of dykes
the Acadians had put in place, which was essential for the farming
of the lands. They proceeded to ask their government for the permission
to hire Acadians who were in prison to operate the system for them.
Permission granted.

The
Acadians who worked for the Brits at the time demanded to be, and
were, well compensated for their efforts. A group of them later
chartered a boat with the money earned this way, and they fled south
to la Louisiane, which was already occupied by another group
of French colonists.

Between
1764 and 1785, an estimated 3,000 Acadians made their way to Louisiana
and historians estimate that 10 to 20 years after their arrival
here, Acadians had already reached their pre-dispersal economic
comfort and way of life. In 1803, these Acadians, whom became known
as "Cajuns," were bought for a mere $15 million by founding
father Thomas Jefferson with the unconstitutional Louisiana
Purchase. Shortly thereafter, they became "citizens" of
the U.S.

Meanwhile,
another large group of Acadians rebuilt their lives and communities
in Canada, settling mostly in today's province of New Brunswick,
Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Quebec. They automatically
became British subjects (England had won Canada in 1759 with the
battle of Quebec, thereby conquering the French-speaking people
who lived on the territory) and with the Canadian
Constitution Act of 1867
, they became "citizens" of
Canada while remaining, by extension, French British subject.

The
rest, as they say, is history. Like the rest of the Western World,
Acadians have been citizenized, socialized, politicized and dumbed
down by the government-run, tax-funded schools in both Canada and
the U.S.

It
is ironic to think that in the richest countries today, most people
are dependent on the government for one thing or another, whether
it is with schools, health care programs, social security, or any
other of the countless welfare programs sponsored by the State.
Very few, it seems, are self-sufficient and are guiding and running
their own lives.

In
a couple of years, I will be invited to take an "oath
of citizenship" to the federal government of the U.S. Unlike
my ancestors, I'm not pressured into taking this oath and I'm guaranteed
all kinds of liberties, even if I do not take the oath. Among
those are freedom of speech (which I assume is in any language until
they pass the English-only bill) and freedom of religion. I'm even
promised a vote, but only after I take the oath, and I am
told that I will not be deported if I take the oath.

Another
oath, a different kind of king, at another time in history… But
who's to say that this one really is different and that this
government will not brake its side of the contract (when it can't
even promise it won't pass the English-only bill)? Not to mention
that according to the INS' web site, to become a citizen, "an
applicant must show that he or she is attached to the principles
of the Constitution of the United States," which does nothing
but make me feel like I'd be taking a one-way oath.

In
our society today, citizenship programs are nothing but the carrousel
in the middle of the government circus. And of course, the ride
is free. Let's see… Give us an oath, we give you a vote;
give us a vote, we give you a federal government job; we give you
a federal government job, you give us a vote… Around in circles
we all go, forever riding the little fake ponies, while none of
this has ever taught anyone how to ride a real horse.

I
agree with Butler Shaffer when he says: "You and I can bring
civilization back into order neither by seizing political
power, nor by attacking it, but by moving away from
it." (Link http://archive.lewrockwell.com/orig/shaffer7.html).
Much like one can't stop the carrousel by hoping on it or by attacking
the fake ponies. It will only stop when the people stop riding the
carrousel and learn how to ride (and guide) their own horses.

A
special thanks to those who took the time to send welcoming e-mails
following my first appearance on LRC, and thanks also to those who
sent links to informative web sties and suggestions for books. Until
we read each other again.

January
16, 2002

Chantal
K. Saucier [send
her mail
] is an Acadian French neutral currently
living in south Louisiana. She lives on a small Acadian farm. And
while her soulmate is a “citizen” of the U.S., it turns out that
his ancestor arrived in America from France in 1710, in Port Royal,
Acadie.

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