The Acadians – Arrive

How many people of your acquaintance can boast of being an Astronomer, Scientist, Author, General, Administrator, Governor, a Fellow of the Royal Society, a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, discoverer of the element Platinum, have a meteorological term named after you, and get kicked out of the place where you were appointed Governor? Introducing Antonio de Ulloa, the first Spanish Governor of Louisiana.

Antonio de Ulloa
Antonio de Ulloa

At the end of the French and Indian War in 1763, which was part of the larger World War, known as the Seven Years War, the Treaty of Fontainebleau was signed and then later The Treaty of Paris, but the one we will deal with is Fontainebleau. The treaty ceded the French colonies in Louisiana to Spain. The Spanish government could think of no greater, more ultra talented man for the job of governor than their own rock star, Antonio Ulloa.  Antonio arrived in the Port of New Orleans on March 5, 1766. Louisiana was under a French interim government until the Spanish could get someone appointed and equipped for the job of governing the colonies. Well the equipping part was quite lax on their part as we will see a little later in our story. Ulloa had brought with him 75 soldiers, did not raise a Spanish Flag over the Place d’ Arms in New Orleans, and then, taken as an insult to the inhabitants of the city, he decided to reside outside of the city in La Balize. Close to a year later, a Schooner named Virgin, arrived in the Port of New Orleans bearing 211 Acadians from Baltimore Maryland, most of the passengers were the outcast, no good Catholics from Port Tobacco we talked about earlier. Among them, my ancestors, Joseph and Alexandre Landry. Governor Ulloa had decided that a good place to send these colonist was up the Bayou Manchac to the Mississippi River, where they established a fort call St.Gabriel, as a buffer to the British fort called Butte, just up the river approx 5 miles. Here the Acadians were given plots of land, the bare necessities to farm with and a weapon to hunt with. Of course like all good Catholics, one of their first missions was to build a church. But, while they were getting settled in and planning out their community, trouble was already brewing with the new Spanish way of things. Ulloa had announced that he was cracking down on Louisiana’s smuggling operations and he was closing the Mississippi river down to one channel, at the mouth, so that they could security check all vessels. Then to make matters worse for the French merchants, he strictly forbid any trading with the other French Colonies or with France. This was unacceptable to many of the French residents and resentments set in. Remember when i mentioned that Ulloa was really ill equipped to govern successfully? Well, the Commissary that was under the French rule, had to continue as Commissary under Ulloa’s rule as well, because Ulloa didn’t bring in any administrative personnel! The Attorney General was still the same Attorney General that was under the French. So, these two guys got together and started planning to oust old Ulloa out of Louisiana. They had already sent a prominent businessman to France to plead with King Louis to rescind the ceding and take Louisiana back. They got together with other like minded citizens and a plot was hatched which became, The Louisiana Rebellion of 1768. When we continue, the rebellion starts and St. Gabriel becomes a real place!

 

 

 

The Acadians

When we left our last post, the Lemoyne brothers had firmly established settlements along the gulf coast, in modern day Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. The chief among these, the great Port of New Orleans. During the years following the establishment of these forts and villages, our friend Jean Baptiste Lemoyne had been Governor for a combined 30 years. With the growing of these colonies came a great trading business. The Port of New Orleans was a growing busy port and was becoming the envy of the British, who was coveting it more and more. The British started a campaign of capturing, looting and scuttling French merchant ships coming to and from the Port and everywhere else they could find enemy ships for that matter. Once the French and Indian War had begun, of course this practice escalated in the North American theater. At the time of the war’s beginning, the French presence on the North American continent was approximately 60 thousand. By this time the French had developed colonies in the Ohio River valley, building forts along the rivers, the Mississippi and the Ohio. The fort they built at the convergence of the Allegheny and the Monongahela rivers in present day downtown Pittsburgh, Pa, would become a very pivotal asset and be forever a part of American History. A new star would come on to the stage at the fort they named Duquesne. The British colonies, by 1754, were vibrant and wealthy with a population of around 2 million. So, the fantastically outnumbered French colonist had to befriend and enlist as many of the native tribes as possible, thus the English dubbed it the French and Indian war. At the end of the war, the subsequent Peace Treaty was signed and the French agreed, to cede it’s Louisiana colonies to Spain. I must say at this point that, the French and Indian War, was a part of the larger, almost World War, called the Seven Years War and included more than just the fledgling colonies in America. Meanwhile in Acadie, present day Nova Scotia, French colonists, who had been settled there since the early 1600’s, were being systematically deported from their homeland. Though there were many battles between the French and British over the lush and fertile lands of Acadie, by 1755, the British had a stranglehold on the settlements there, and finally decided that the dirty rotten, non-oath taking Catholic scourge should be once and for all dealt with and that they should be permanently removed from the coveted lands. They lured the French inhabitants into local churches and meeting places in Port Royal and Pisiquit, under the guise of a “meeting to discuss political and social issues”. When the Acadians arrived, they were read a proclamation stating that all of their properties and permanent structures were now possessions of the British Monarchy and that they would be deported from these lands immediately. They were put on ships and sent to wherever the British could think of at the moment. Some were sent to France, some to the Canadian Provinces, some to Britain, and like my ancestors, strewn along the Atlantic coast in the thirteen colonies, where they were hated the most. My people, namely Joseph and Alexandre Landry, landed at Port Tobacco, Maryland. There they stayed, listed as prisoners of war, on the original manifests. Alexandre was only 2 years old. Like previously stated, the Acadians were hated in the colonies, due to the hatred of the French among the British, the many skirmishes they had with Acadians in the past, but also more intense, the hatred of Catholics, in the mostly Protestant population. A lot of the Acadians were put into concentration camps, they were forced into slave labor and were basically starved to death in many cases. The local governments would not let the sympathetic, but very small population of English Catholics to help, they were strictly forbidden. So, when the call for colonists came forth from Spain, you can bet, every Acadian who could make the trip signed up. The Spanish, who had taken over the French colonies in Louisiana, were looking for colonists to help them colonize, but more importantly, keep control of the Mississippi river and New Orleans. And who hated the British more than the Spanish? That’s right! The Acadians! And, the Spanish were Catholics!! A marriage made in heaven. So the journey to Louisiana for a lot of Acadians started there and then, along with my own ancestors, Joseph and baby Alexandre. We’ll pick up on their arrival to Louisiana in our next post. Vive la Louisiana!