The Expulsion of the Acadians
The sad history of state-sponsored ethnic cleansing in North America begins with the story of the 18th century expulsion of the Acadians by the British. Professor Amy Sturgis explains that the Acadians were peaceful French colonists who had prospered in Nova Scotia. In 1755, the British forcibly uprooted the Acadians from their land and scattered them across North America. In the upheaval, approximately 55 percent of the 18,000 Acadians lost their lives to drowning and disease, and many families were torn apart.
The tradition of state-sponsored theft, forced migration, and cultural destruction that started with the expulsion of the Acadians is a tragic part of American history. Over the course of their history, the Acadians had developed a culture based not on conflict and conquest, but on mutual respect, accommodation, and interaction among different peoples. It was a culture based on trade and not raid, and it stood in stark contrast to the destructive and exploitative British Empire.
How might U.S. history have been different if this first ethnic cleansing had never occurred? How might America be different today if the Acadians’ property and rights had been respected? Might the Acadian peaceful, non-coercive way of life have influenced the United States for the better?