Acadia, Or Aeadie, the name of the peninsula now called Nova Scotia, from its first settlement by the French in 1604 till its final cession to the English in 1713. In the original commission of the king of France, New Brunswick and a part of Maine were included in Cadie, but practically the colony was restricted to the peninsula. The English claimed the territory by right of discovery. In 1621 it was granted by royal charter under the name of Nova Scotia, and its possession was obstinately disputed. (See Nova Scotia.) The quarrels between the two nations were embittered by the desire for exclusive possession of the fisheries. After the final cession the Acadians generally remained in Nova Scotia, though they had the privilege of leaving within two years, and, refusing to take the oath of allegiance, took the oath of fidelity to the British king. They were exempted from bearing arms against their countrymen, whence they were known in the colonies as the neutral French. They were allowed to enjoy their religion, and to have magistrates of their own selection.
The French, having lost Acadia, settled the island of Cape Breton and built Louisburg. There they carried on intrigues with the Indians, who kept up an irregular warfare with the English, the blame whereof was thrown upon the neutral French, who in 1755, a few years after the English turned their attention to the colonization of Nova Scotia, suffered for the offences of their countrymen, of which they were doubtless innocent, since they were a simple agricultural people. Because they still refused to take the oath of allegiance, or to bear arms against the French or their Indian allies, to whom they were suspected of lending aid, and because by their peculiar position they embarrassed the local government, it was determined at a consultation of the governor and his council to remove this whole people, 18,000 souls, and disperse them among the other British provinces. For this harsh measure itself there may have been some excuse; for the manner in which it was carried out there was none. The inhabitants were compelled to give up all their property, their houses and crops were burned before their eyes, and themselves shipped in such haste that few families or friends remained together.
In a few towns the Acadians discovered and escaped the plot, but most of them were scattered over the continent.