Trade or Raid: Acadian Settlers and Native Indians Before 1755

I have another working paper available which I will soon start presenting in order to obtain comments.  In the paper, I consider whether or not North America could have been settled more peacefully with fewer infringements of the property rights of First Nations. I argue that the case of Acadia – the French settlements in Atlantic Canada – offer an interesting counterfactual. The colonists were in a borderland which was largely left ungoverned by European powers and were thus more or less in a situation of statelessness. Being forced to shoulder all the costs of violence themselves, the settlers developed exceptionally peaceful relations with the First Nations of the region. In the paper, I survey this exceptional counterfactual and I provide new information about the region’s living standards. The paper is available on SSRN and the abstract is below:

The peopling of North America by European settlers often conflicted with the property rights of aboriginals. Trade could, and often did, represent a peaceful and mutually beneficial interaction between these two groups. However, more often than not, raid was preferred over trade. This was not always the case (as exemplified in this paper) for the French settlers of Atlantic Canada, known as Acadians, who enjoyed exceptionally peaceful relations with First Nations. In this paper, I argue that this colony was peripheral in the designs of European governments and was largely stateless and was left to fend for itself. As such, all the costs of raiding were borne by settlers who favored trade over raid for more than a century.

 

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