The American Revolution and Nova Scotia Reconsidered

“The New Englanders, moreover, were greatly dissatisfied with the Halifax government. Had not Francklin encouraged the Yorkshiremen to settle in the Isthmus? Furthermore, the New Englanders reacted violently to the fact that a small clique of Halifax merchants controlled the legislative and executive functions of government stubbornly refusing to grant to the New Englanders the right of ”township form of government” which Governor Lawrence had promised them in 1758 and 1759″

“What real impact did the Revolution have upon the inhabitants of Nova Scotia? Of course most of them resolved to adopt a policy of neutrality; many suffered because of the depredations of the American privateers; while a few, especially the Halifax merchants, grew rich from the usual profits of war. But was there nothing else? M. W. Armstrong has convincingly argued that probably the most important impact of the Revolution upon Nova Scotia was in precipitating the “Great Awakening of Nova Scotia.” In addition, Armstrong has emphasized that the “Great Awakening” encouraged the development of neutrality:

Indeed, the Great Awakening itself may be considered to have been a retreat from the grim realities of the world to the safety and pleasantly exciting warmth of the revival meeting, and to profits and rewards of another character … an escape from fear and divided loyalties … an assertion of democratic ideals and a determination to maintain them, the Great Awakening gave self respect and satisfaction to people whose economic and political position was both humiliating and distressing.

The prophet and evangelist of the spiritual awakening was Henry Alline who, when he was twelve, had moved from Rhode Island to Falmouth, Nova Scotia. An uneducated farmer, Alline had experienced an unusual “Conversion”, and in 1776 he began to preach an emotional Christian message that has been described as being a combination of “Calvinism, Antinomianism, and Enthusiasm.” The flames of religious revival swept up the Minas Basin in 1777, across the Bay of Fundy in 1779, and to the South Shore in 1781. All Protestant Churches in Nova Scotia were in one way or another affected by the “Great Awakening”, and largely as a direct result the evangelical wing of the various Protestant Churches was able to dominate Maritime religious life throughout the nineteenth century”

Rawlyk, George A. “The American Revolution and Nova Scotia Reconsidered”, Dalhousie Review, Volume 43, Number 3, 1963