As with Saint-Dominigue, much is known about the arrival of the island's first Acadian immigrants but little is known of their subsequent rate. On April 20, 1756, a Martinique official notified Versailles that a New York bound British ship carrying approximately 300 Acadian deportees from the Port Royal area had been blown off course by winter storms, which had driven the vessel to Antigua which was a British possession in the Leeward Islands. Antiguan authorities sent the exiles to St. Kitts, where they remained from January 25, 1756 to April 1, 1756.
Unable or unwilling to support the Acadians any longer, the St. Kitts government transported some of the exiles to, and abandoned them at, the Dutch colony of St. Eustatius (called St. Eustache by the French). Forced by the colonial government to support these unwelcome interlopers, the British consul at St. Eustatius provided the Acadians with food, but in such small quantities that the exiles were forced to turn to private charity to survive. Governor Jan de Windt, Jr., evidently afraid that the Acadians would become permanent burden on the island's population, sought relief from the French government of Martinique.
Windt's appeal for aid was honored by the Martinique government, for twenty-eight Acadian exiles subsequently made their way to that French island. Upon arrival at Martinique, the exiles requested passage to either Cape Breton Island or Quebec. Their hosts assured them that they would avail themselves of the first oppourunity to send them there. The record tells us though that the assurances were not met and these exiles were forced to remain in the Antilles.
Saint-Domingue was located on the western third of the island of Hispaniola. Columbus discovered the island in 1492, and immediately began to colonize it in the name of Spain. In 1605, the Spanish inhabitants of the sparsely-settled western part of the island were ordered to relocate to the eastern end, closer to the capital city of Santo Domingo.
In 1659, Louis XIV commissioned the first permanent settlement on Tortuga. Settlers steadily encroached on the northwest part of Hispaniola; the French West India Company was established in 1664 to direct the expected commerce between France and the colony. In 1670, the French made Cap Français (present-day Cap Haïtien) their first major settlement on Hispaniola, taking advantage of its remoteness from the Spanish capital of Santo Domingo. The western part of the island was commonly referred to as Saint-Domingue, which became its official name after Spain relinquished the area to France in 1697 in the Treaty of Ryswick.
The Acadians in Santo Domingo
By Robert Dafford
My thanks to Mr. Dafford for permission
to use his murals on the Acadian Ancestral Home
The Treaty of Ryswick (1697) formalized the French occupation which had existed for the past 60 years, and by it, Spain acknowledged France's title to the western third of Hispaniola. The official name of the colony was côte et isles de Saint Domingue en l'Amérique sous le vent; it was also known as la partie Française de l'ile de Saint-Domingue, or simply Saint-Domingue. Three provinces were marked out: the partie du Nord (the North), partie de l'Ouest (the West), and partie du Sud (the South). Cap François, on the northwest coast, became the capital of the colony.
In 1749, the town of Port-au-Prince (in the West) was founded and became the new capital of the colony.
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