More time is spent describing Dartmouth here than in many other similar books of its kind, yet another instance of 1756 being given as the date of Dartmouth’s “destruction” at the hands of the Mi’kmaq.
The timing of the attack, 1756, in regards to the delay of the institution of representative government at Halifax until 1758; the requirement of a population of 25 qualified electors in 1757 in order to qualify for a representative in the legislature, which become 50 qualified electors by 1758; all these points, when put together, have always struck me as curious.
Earlier events, such as the arrival and settlement of various “wastrels” as well as the “King’s bad bargains” has led me to question whether it was the Mi’kmaq who were involved in the “destruction of Dartmouth” at all, but instead whether it was in fact settlers from across the harbor dressed up as the Indigenous (a technique seen later during the Tea Party).
I’m not sure how far those intent on advancing their position would go, whether it would include the removal of people situated across the harbor by any means necessary – to prevent representation that would compete with Halifax, and in furtherance to claims for land located there. That the imposition of the BNA and “amalgamation” were repeats of this scenario in many ways, at least in regards to administrative capture as well as the furtherance of land claims, means that I can’t help but give the possibility of this scenario credence, especially considering the differing descriptions of these events in various sources and the revisionism that has taken place since.
Of further interest to me in this “Plan for National Colonization” was that the partisan affiliation of each of the newspapers that were published in Halifax at the time is listed, as well as the disdainful attitude of the author towards the Black people settled here (perhaps due to their American origin), which is apparent. Whether that was the prevailing attitude of the English more broadly at the time is an interesting question, especially with the revisionist history that is happening currently, in regards to the 1619 project, which wishes to recast British attitudes towards Black people as benevolent in nature in comparison to Americans. In earlier chapters especially, but even in regards to describing the people of Nova Scotia, we see many attempts to extol the virtues of Anti-Americanism, to showcase the loyalty of Nova Scotians towards the crown and to stress they weren’t disaffected; no chance is wasted to cast Americans as uncivilized throughout.
Page 342: “(Nova Scotians) are entirely British in their feelings, and loyal to a degree that reminds one of the reign of George the Third, and the threatened invasion of England by Napoleon, when it was not enough to be loyal, but every one was expected to make constant profession of his being so, to prevent his being classed among the disaffected.“
Also included here is the book’s timeline of historical events in regards to Nova Scotian colonization, since it delves into the Baronets and baronetcies in a manner I haven’t seen in other sources – an institution that I’m not at all sure has actually faded into the history books. The anecdote shared by the author which attempts to rationalize the ad hoc and arbitrary nature of the British monarchy (“for ever”) is revealing, where it was thought at first it must have been an issue with translation, and not the institutionalized psychopathy of the British crown itself that led to a “misunderstanding” and a perpetual redefinition of words and terms as it suits them. A story that helps to explain some of the impetus for the American revolution, from the perspective of American colonists in regards to rule of law and the desire for a written Constitution.
Indeed, it also helps to explain the feelings of the New Englanders, who formed the majority of settlers in the province of Nova Scotia. Almost all were dissenters, until a push of loyalists in the 1780s changed the political landscape. Those New Englanders had settled in Nova Scotia thanks in large part to assurances that they could enjoy local self government – township government, in the New England form – and that their rights to enjoy religious liberties would be respected. Both were yanked out from underneath them in order to concentrate even more power within the Halifax establishment.
Opposite to Halifax, on the eastern shore of its harbour, is the small town of Dartmouth, the soil around which is more fertile than on the west, and is advantageously cultivated chiefly by German settlers. The breadth of the harbour here is about a mile and half, and a steam ferry-boat goes across every half hour. It is of nearly as early a date as Halifax, having been founded in 1750; but about six years after its foundation it was destroyed by the Indians, and the greater number of its inhabitants massacred. It was revived in 1784 by some families from Nantucket, among whom were some of the Quebec family of the Roches, related to the wealthy merchants of that name in New Bedford. They carried on the whale-fishery here with great success till 1792, when a branch of them removed to Milford Haven in Wales. The town has now a population of 1,500 only; but if the projected canal, called the Shubenacadie – intended to pass through a chain of small lakes behind the town towards the river Shubenacadie, which falls into the Bay of Fundy-should ever be completed, it would no doubt greatly advance the prosperity of Dartmouth.
It is from this point of view that the town of Halifax, with its crowning hill and fortifications, its busy wharves lined with shipping below, the spires of its churches and the general mass of dwellings, is seen to the greatest advantage.
Newspapers appear to be as numerous here, as in any town of a similar size in America. None of them are published daily; but there are large weekly papers-the Times, Conservative; the Nova Scotian, Reformer; the Royal Gazette, official; the Journal and the Acadian Reporter, neutral. These are all conducted with great care, and respectable talent. There is also a religious paper in the Baptist interest, called the Christian Messenger; and another in the Methodist interest, called the Guardian. Besides these, there are three penny papers published twice and thrice a week-the Herald, the Morning Post, and the Hailgonian, which furnish only the heads of news, without exercising much influence on public opinion.
There is a Theatre in Halifax; but, like most of these establishments in the Colonies, it is so little frequented by the higher and even middle classes, that its support is left to strangers, and the lowest class of the population, so that it is constantly in debt and embarrassment, and will ultimately, no doubt, be abandoned.
The Commerce of Halifax is confined chiefly to the United States, the West Indies, and the Brazils, in America; and to Great Britain and the Mediterranean, in Europe. It consists chiefly of the export of timber, dried fish, wheat, flour, oats, salted pork, butter, and fish-oil; and in the import of manufactured goods from England, wines from the Mediterranean, and sugar, molasses, logwood, mahogany, coffee, cigars, and rum, from the West In dies. The aggregate amount of exports and imports on an average of several years past, is about £750,000 annually for each; though for the whole Province of Nova Scotia, including the few other ports, it is about £1,000,000.
The population of Halifax is estimated at 16,000 persons, including at least 1,000 [Black people], and a few [Indigenous people] of the Micmac tribe. These last are rather occasional visitors than permanent residents; but, like the [Black people], being seen frequently in the streets, and attracting attention from their fantastic dress and colours, they give an impression to the stranger of their being more numerous than they really are. The [Black people] settled here are chiefly from the United States and the West Indies. During the American war, the British squadron, under Sir Alexander Cochrane, after ravaging the shores of the Chesapeake, and going up to Washington to burn the Capitol, and destroy the public records there, brought away a great many [Black people] from Maryland and Virginia, as prisoners of war; and these becoming free as soon as they were landed here, had no disposition to return. Ships arriving from the West Indies also brought, from time to time, runaway slaves, who sometimes secreted themselves in the shipsholds, till they got to sea, and sometimes entered on board vessels as cooks or stewards, and finding many of their own colour here, joined them as residents. The greater number of them appear to have made little or no improvement in their condition, being poor, ignorant, dirty, and indolent; while no pains seems to be taken, either by the Government or by any Benevolent Society, to elevate them, by education and training, above their present state.
The history of Nova Scotia may be briefly told. It was first discovered by the Cabots in 1497; was visited by the Marquis de la Roche in 1598; and was first colonized by the French, under De Monts, in 1604, when it was called Acadia. In 1613, however; the English sent a small expedition to expel the French, and take possession of Acadia, on the ground of their navigators having been the first to discover the territory. This practice of claiming a property in every land discovered, as if there were no higher title, is happily ridiculed by one of the writers of the day, in this quaint couplet-
“For these were the days-to all men be it known, That all a man sailed by, or saw, was his own.”
But even this was not literally true, for it was rather the monarchs of the hardy navigators, than the territories because their subjects had discovered them. Accordingly in 1621, King James the First granted the whole of this country of Acadia to Sir William Alexander, and changed its name to Nova Scotia. The boundary line then fixed for the territory was one drawn from the river St. Croix to the St. Lawrence, so that it included all the present colony of New Brunswick, as well as a part of Lower Canada from Bic Island to Gaspe. In conformity with the usage of the times, this grant was made on the royal word “for ever;” but in treaties, grants, and diplomatic documents, the words “eternal peace and amity,” and “perpetual and undisturbed possession,” have a very limited meaning; their true signification being only just as long ·as may suit the convenience . or interest of the parties to let this “eternity” continue, which may be twenty years, or ten, or only one, as circumstances may render expedient.*
* I remember an anecdote so strictly in point to illustrate this, that I cannot refrain from mentioning it. When I was at Shiraz, in Persia, in 1816, I lived in the house of an exiled Indian prince, named Jaffier Ali Khan, who was very much attached to the English, and who had, before this kindly entertained the estimable Henry Martyn, the lamented Church of England Missionary, under the same roof, and was delighted to hear that we were both natives of the same county, Cornwall. The father of Jaffier Ali Khan had ceded some territory among the Northern Circars, under the Presidency of Madras, to the East India Company; in consideration of which, the Company, through the Madras government, undertook to pay, to himself and the dependent members of his family, certain fixed annuities, which were to be guaranteed to them “in perpetuity for ever.” After a few years had elapsed, however, the Prince found his annuity considerably reduced in amount; and no reason being assigned for this, he wrote, first to India, and then to England, but could get no satisfactory explanation on the subject. He then thought it possible that the words “perpetuity” and ”for ever” might have a different meaning in English, from their equivalents in Persian, or that some change had taken place in the general acceptation of the terms; as words sometimes grow obsolete and change their meaning. He therefore sent to England for one of the latest and best editions of the most generally approved dictionary of the English language, which he spoke imperfectly, but which he could read pretty well; and on turning, with great eagerness and anxiety, to the words in question, he found that ”perpetuity” meant exactly as he had supposed, “without change or cessation;” and that “for ever” was only another and stronger mode of expressing the same “continual duration.” But he found that at the India House, as in the courts of other monarchs, “perpetual and everlasting” meant only “as long as might be expedient, and no longer.”
Charles the First, therefore, soon put an end to the “for ever” of his predecessor James; and shortly after his accession, this monarch sold what his royal parent had previously given away. This was done by the institution of a new order of Nova Scotia baronets, which were limited to 150 in number. To each of these baronetcies, a grant of land in the province was attached, and the titles and territory were sold to such persons as would under. take to make certain payments to the crown, in aid of settlement, as it was called, but in reality to replenish the King’s privy purse.
Many of the original French settlers, however, remained in Acadia; when Cromwell, in 1654, sent a force to dislodge them, and was successful. In the reign of Charles the Second, it was again ceded to France, by the treaty of Breda, in 1667, and remained in her possession till 1689, when it was taken by the English, with an expedition from Massachusetts, then a British Colony, under the command of Sir William Phipps. The leader of this expedition was one of the most remarkable men of his day. He was the son of a very humble blacksmith, and was brought up as a shepherd’s boy. At the age of eighteen, he was first apprenticed to a shipwright; and before he was twenty-one, he built a small vessel, with which he offered to raise some treasure, sunk in a Spanish ship, that was wrecked some years before at the Bahamas. His offer was made to the English court, and was accepted; and with the assistance he received from thence, he succeeded in recovering 300,000l. from the wreck. Of this he retained a portion sufficient to enrich himself, and the rest was given to his patron, the Duke of Albermale, who had assisted him in the equipment of the ship in which he performed this expedition. He was afterwards made a knight by King James the Second; and subsequently Governor of Massachusetts, in 1691, by the authority of William the Third.
Another change took place in the possession of Nova Scotia, when it was ceded a second time, by the Treaty of Ryswick, in 1696, to France, who held it till 1710, when it was again captured by the English, with an expedition from Boston; it was finally ceded to the British in the reign of Queen Anne, in 1713, since which it has remained in our undisturbed possession.
Buckingham, James Silk, 1786-1855; Bartlett, W.H. (William Henry), 1809-1854. “Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the other British provinces in North America : with a plan of national colonization”. 1843. https://archive.org/details/McGillLibrary-130149-5095