Sunday, January 29, 2012

Key Figures in the Fall of Acadia - Part II


(sometimes written Guerne or De Guerne), Spiritan, priest, and missionary; b. 5 Jan. 1725 at Kergrist-Moëlou (dept of Côtes-du-Nord), France, son of Yves Le Guerne; d. 6 Dec. 1789 at Saint-François-de-Sales, Île d’Orléans, Quebec. 

On 1 July 1749, after a few years at the Séminaire du Saint-Esprit in Paris, François Le Guerne entered the Séminaire des Missions Étrangères, where Abbé de L’Isle-Dieu, the bishop of Quebec’s vicar general in Paris, paid his board. Early in the summer of 1750 he left for Quebec, sailing on the frigate Diane from Rochefort; at that time he was only a tonsured cleric. He spent more than a year in Quebec, completed his theological studies, and was then ordained priest by Bishop Pontbriand [Dubreil*] on 18 Sept. 1751. 

Le Guerne went to Acadia, probably in 1752, to minister to the settlers around Fort Beauséjour (near Sackville, N. B.). At first he served some 80 families at Tintemarre (Tantramar), but after the departure of Abbé Le Guet (Du Guay) early in 1754 he had at least 200 families scattered over nearly 40 leagues along the Shepody, Petitcodiac, and Memramcook rivers. Obliged to travel from one post to another for two months of every year, he asked the bishop of Quebec for another missionary to assist him with his heavy burden. He worked in cooperation with Jean-Louis LE Loutre, who ministered to the Indians in the region. 

In June 1755 Fort Beauséjour was captured by British troops under Robert MONCKTON. Le Guerne refused to compel the Acadians to resist the British because Louis DU Pont Duchambon, the commandant of the fort, and Abbé Le Loutre “had said on leaving that it was in the habitants’ interest to be quite submissive.” So strongly were the Acadians attached to their lands that Le Guerne doubted many would heed a counsel of disobedience, and he was reluctant to be held responsible for the misfortunes of those who did. On seeing the sad fate that befell them anyway – those who presented themselves at the fort were imprisoned with a view to deportation – Le Guerne changed his mind; accompanied by a large number of his parishioners he took to the woods north of the Shepody, Petitcodiac, and Memramcook rivers. With Charles DESCHAMPS de Boishébert he attempted to facilitate the escape of families still at liberty and to organize the resistance of those Acadians who wished to continue harassing the enemy. He had repeatedly to go into hiding because Monckton sought to have him arrested. Nearly 200 families shared his lot, living in extreme poverty, without flour, salt pork, cooking fat, molasses, or adequate rations of meat. By March 1756 Le Guerne had managed to get some 500 Acadians across to Île Saint-Jean (Prince Edward Island) [see Gabriel Rousseau de Villejouin]. Many of his former flock, however, were too attached to their lands and paid no heed to his appeals, hoping that Acadia would again become French. 

In order to escape the British Le Guerne left Acadia for good in August 1757. On his arrival in Quebec he immediately wrote to Governor Vaudreuil [RIGAUD] to request aid for the Acadians; however the situation was critical in the St Lawrence valley and the governor refused his request. Abbé de L’Isle-Dieu wanted to send Le Guerne to the mission to the Tamaroas (Cahokia, now East St Louis, Ill.), but Bishop Pontbriand kept him in Quebec hoping that he would be able to return to Acadia once peace had been restored. Since the war did not end, the bishop entrusted him in 1758 with the parish of Saint-François-de-Sales on Île d’Orléans. 

Le Guerne spent the remainder of his career in that parish, absenting himself for a year (1768–69) to give a course in rhetoric at the Petit Séminaire in Quebec. In October 1789 about 50 of his parishioners, citing Le Guerne’s “state of languor and infirmity,” asked Bishop HUBERT to recall him, and the bishop advised him to retire. They complained that they had been harshly treated by their pastor and reproached him for denying his services to a large number of his flock and for seeking to enrich himself by every means. He died two months later. Among other legacies in his will Le Guerne left 360 livres to the Séminaire de Québec, 3,600 livres to the Séminaire du Saint-Esprit in Paris, and 3,600 livres to his relatives in Brittany. 

GEORGE III (1760-1820 AD)

George III was born in 1738, first son of Frederick, Prince of Wales and Augusta. He married Charlotte of Mecklinburg-Strelitz in 1761, to whom he was devoted. The couple produced a prolific fifteen children: nine sons and six daughters. George was afflicted with porphyria, a maddening disease which disrupted his reign as early as 1765. Several attacks strained his grip on reality and debilitated him in the last years of his reign. Personal rule was given to his son George, the Prince Regent, in 1811. George III died blind, deaf and mad at Windsor Castle on January 29, 1820. 

George III succeeded his grandfather, George II, in 1760 (Frederick, Prince of Wales, had died in 1751 having never ruled). George was determined to recover the prerogative lost to the ministerial council by the first two Georges; in the first two decades of the reign, he methodically weakened the Whig party through bribery, coercion and patronage. Prime Minister, William Pitt the Elder was toppled by Whigs after the Peace of Paris, and men of mediocre talent and servile minds were hand-picked by George as Cabinet members, acting as little more than yes-men. Bouts with madness and the way he handled the American Revolution eroded his support and the power of the Crown was granted again to the Prime Minister.

The Peace of Paris (1763) ended the Seven Years' War with France, with the strenuous, anti-French policies of the elder Pitt emphasizing naval superiority in the colonial warfare. Great Britain emerged from the conflict as the world's greatest colonial power. England thrived under peacetime conditions, but George's commitment to taxing the American colonies to pay for military protection led to hostilities in 1775. The colonists proclaimed independence in 1776, but George obstinately continued the war until the final American victory at Yorktown in 1781. The Peace of Versailles, signed in 1783, ensured British acknowledgment of the United States of America. The defeat cost George dearly: his sanity was stretched to the breaking point and his political power decreased when William Pitt the Younger became Prime Minister in 1783. George reclaimed some of his power, driving Pitt from office from 1801-04, but his condition worsened again and he ceased to rule in 1811.

The peace following the French war settlement was short-lived. A mere ten years later, England joined a continental alliance against French revolutionary forces who, after gaining power in France, sought total French hegemony across Europe. By 1797, the largest part of Europe was under French dominance, with England standing alone against the revolutionary Republic. The British Navy again proved decisive, defeating French forces at Camperdown, Cape St. Vincent and the Battle of the Nile in 1797, and finally at Copenhagen in 1801. Peace was negotiated at Amiens in 1802, with the French supreme on land and the British at sea. Napoleon Bonaparte seized supreme power in France at the turn of the century, and renewed attacks against England in 1803. Hostilities with France lasted until 1814 taking several forms. Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, led the land attack; the navy, commanded by Lord Horatio Nelson won the decisive battle off Cape Trafalgar, and imposed a blockade of Europe to offset Napoleon's " continental system" which was forbidden from importing British goods; and the younger Pitt guided the government through the hardships of total war. In addition to the continental conflict, England went to war again with the United States between 1812-14, over the British practice of pressing American seamen into service in the British Navy. Both conflicts were resolved in 1814; Napoleon was deposed and England agreed not to abscond with American sailors. Napoleon returned to Europe briefly in 1815, but was soundly defeated by continental forces led by Wellington.

George's madness ultimately left the fate of the crown on his eldest son George, Prince Regent. Prince George was put in the daunting position of attempting to govern according to the increasingly erratic will of his father. A letter received by novelist E. M. Frostier from his aunt, Marine Thornton, describes the situation: "... there he was sitting on the Throne with his King's Crown on, his robes scarlet and ermine, and held his speech written out for him, just what he had to say. But, oh dear, he strode up and made a bow and began "My Lords and Peacocks'. The people who were not fond of him laughed, the people who did love him cried, and he went back to be no longer a king, and his eldest son reigned in his stead".


(1661–1750), colonial governor, was born in Pembrokeshire, the son of Richard Philipps and his wife, Frances, née Noel. At sixteen or seventeen years of age Philipps enlisted in the army, where he distinguished himself primarily as an active whig. After William of Orange set sail in 1688, but before he landed in England, Philipps distributed whig manifestos to his fellow troops. He was arrested and condemned for sedition, but in the ensuing chaos the death sentence was never carried out. After the revolution of 1688 he served in William III's army, at the battle of Boyne and subsequently in Flanders and Spain. 

In 1712 Philipps purchased, at a price of 7000 guineas, the colonelcy of the 12th regiment of foot. Five years later he exchanged this commission for the governorship of Nova Scotia. He was simultaneously appointed governor of the British outpost on Newfoundland and colonel of a new regiment, the 40th, which had been formed to garrison the two territories. Philipps never visited Newfoundland, and he was replaced as governor there in 1729. He remained governor of Nova Scotia until 1749, though he spent less than three years in residence in the colony.

None the less, even from a distance, Philipps was able to assist in Nova Scotia's administration. Since 1710, when the British conquered the colony (which had been known as Acadia) from the French, the garrison had been almost continuously understaffed and undersupplied. Owing to his military position Philipps acquired reliable supplies for the garrison and maintained more or less constant manpower levels, accomplishments which had eluded his predecessors. His other important early accomplishment was to fortify Canso, an island off the Atlantic coast that served as a drying station for fishermen. He hoped that the military base which he established on the island in 1720 would trigger the economic redevelopment of the eastern half of the province. This larger plan never materialized, but the base helped create economic and political links between the fishermen of New England and the government of Nova Scotia, links which proved crucial for the survival of British rule after the French attacked the colony in 1744. New England's fishermen were a powerful lobby in support of the Massachusetts government's decisions to reinforce the garrison of Nova Scotia in 1744 and pre-emptively attack the French at Louisbourg in 1745.

Philipps is best remembered, though, for the policies he adopted towards the Acadians, the descendants of the original French colonists in the region. When he was first appointed, Philipps had hoped to remove the Acadians from their lands and replace them with English-speaking protestant settlers. During his visit to Nova Scotia in 1720 he and his provincial council had petitioned the Board of Trade in favour of the plan. The effort achieved modest political success; the board endorsed the proposed expulsion in 1721 in a report to George I. But Philipps received no money or logistical support, and in the end no official authorization. The rise of Sir Robert Walpole reshaped the political landscape and restricted the financial resources available to would-be colonial promoters. Furthermore, after Philipps's return to Britain in 1722 the Mi'kmaq (the native people of Nova Scotia) took up arms against his colonial government and the Acadians professed neutrality in the conflict. These events helped reorder Philipps's priorities. He ceased advocating the expulsion of the Acadians, and instead supported a political accommodation with them.

Philipps returned to Nova Scotia for the last time in the summer of 1729. During his fifteen-month stay he engaged in negotiations with Acadians from various parts of the province and persuaded almost all of Nova Scotia's adult male Acadian inhabitants to swear allegiance to the British crown. By taking the oath the Acadians acknowledged British sovereignty over the colony, but in exchange they obtained recognition of their special status and limited autonomy. Philipps promised them (orally) that they would never be pressed into military service. Subsequent administrators claimed that Philipps's promise was illegal and furthermore that it contradicted and invalidated the terms of the oath of allegiance. Chief Justice Jonathan Belcher jun. made this argument in order to justify the removal of the Acadians from Nova Scotia in 1755. Unwittingly, therefore, Philipps helped lay the legal groundwork for the Acadian removal.

After 1730 Philipps treated his governorship primarily as a sinecure, though he remained interested in issues of patronage connected to the garrison there. Working with King Gould, the colony's agent in London, he participated in negotiations over appointments within the provincial garrison and council. He also took a hand in negotiations over the sale of the chaplaincies for the garrison. But the internal government of Nova Scotia concerned him very little. Philipps was twice married: first to Elizabeth Cosby (d. c.1739), with whom he had at least two children, and, second, to Catherina Bagshawe, née Stratham. He died in Westminster on 14 October 1750 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.
Geoffrey Plank 
Source: Dictionary of Canadian Biography

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