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Isaac De Razilly Becomes Governor Of Acadia

Almost as quickly as the Treaty of St-Germain-en-Laye returned undisputed ownership of Acadia to France, Cardinal Richelieu acted to rebuild the French presence there.

He made his cousin, Isaac de Razilly, lieutenant governor of all of New France and governor of Acadia. Razilly made his name, and some money, as a naval hero and was a shareholder in the Company of New France. He intended to establish a true setlement in Acadia, instead of only forts, fur trading posts, and fish drying depots.

According to Charles D. Mahaffie Jr, "Financing came from (the Company of New France) and later from a second firm, the Razilly-Condonnier Company, formed by Razilly, his brother Claude de Launay Razilly, and an investor named Jean Condonnier. Ships were chartered and colonists were recruited. They were mostly engagés: laborers, artisans, and farmers hired for a prescribed period, after which they were free to go home. But some meant to stay, and everyone expected that once buildings were up and land was cleared, there would be wives and children and permanent homes."

Razilly sailed from France in July 1632 aboard l'Esperance de Dieu. With him were two transports carrying 300 people, livestock, seeds, tools, arms, and everything needed to establish and maintain a community. He landed on the western shore of the La Have River on September 8, 1632, and took possession of Port Royal, drove the English away from the fort at Penobscot, and sent home all of the Scots who had not yet left Nova Scotia.

Two lieutenants came with Razilly to Acadia. Charles de Menou de Charnisay, Sieur d'Aulnay, was placed in charge of settling the new émigrés on the land and getting them started at farming. Nicolas Denys, meanwhile, was to begin building up the Acadian fisheries, the fur trade, and an export lumber trade with France.

These men would have a large hand in putting down the first truly permanent beginnings of the Acadian colony. But they would do so in the face of conflict, not only from their English neighbors, but from within the French ranks.

Charles de La Tour, who had almost single handedly defended the French interest in Acadia, felt slighted when Razilly showed up. La Tour thought that he should have been made governor. Razilly compromised with him. Razilly would settle his people at La Have. La Tour and his men would continue their fur trading from their main outpost of Cape Sable. Razilly also gave La Tour the Seigneurie de Jemseg, a rich hunting and fishing area along the St. John River in New Brunswick.

According to Mahaffie, "La Tour was interested in beaver, not farms and chapels and schools. As long as Razilly did not try for a disproportionate share of the trade, why fuss? La Tour got along with Razilly, and he made an alliance with Denys as well. They were men of affairs: they understood each other. D'Aulnay was a different type - a starchy aristocrat, easily disliked - but while Razilly was in charge at La Have, La Tour had no difficulties in Acadia, nor did he have much trouble arranging matters in Paris. In exchange for agreeing to maintain his forts at Saint John and Cape Sable, he was assigned a quarter of the furs. The profit potential was huge, and he returned well satisfied."

He thought that the English settlement at Machias, Maine, was a threat to profits from his Jemseg lands. In 1633, he attacked Machias, killed two men, captured three others, and brought them and a passel of captured furs and provisions to Cape Sable.

The English in Boston called La Tour's attack piracy, and decided to do something about it. In 1634, a Boston merchant named Allerton who owned an interest in the Machias trading post, sailed to Acadia to reclaim furs taken from there and to bring back La Tour's prisoners. La Tour told him that Machias was now French territory and that he had acted in the name of France. Coincidentally, Razilly was wrangling with New Englanders at the same time, and told them that they could trade no further north than the mouth of the Kennebec River, near today's Portland, Maine.

The Puritans in Boston were already less than enamored with the French. The Massachusetts Bay Colony's Governor John Winthrop heard in January 1633 that Razily had landed at La Have with the wherewithal to form a permanent settlement, bringing with him "diverse priests and Jesuits among them." Winthrop called in his assistants to discuss "the French (who) were like(ly) to prove ill neighbors (being Papists)." The English fortified Boston Harbor and sent men to hold the ground north of Cape Ann, Massachusetts, "less an enemy finding it void, should possess and take it from us."

In August 1635, Razilly sent d'Aulnay to formally enforce the French claim on the Penobscot area. He found a handful of Englishmen from the Plymouth setlement there and sent them home without bloodshed, but that was too much for the Puritans.

Mahaffie tells us, "Ready for war, they sent their redoubtable soldier of fortune Captain Miles Standish to Penobscot Bay to thrash the upstart French, but d'Aulnay was dug in, and Standish's gunners wasted their ammunition in a fruitless bombardment. Powder and shot used up, they sought more in Boston, but there they found that the Bay Colony would join Plymouth's war only if Plymouth paid all the cost. With that they gave up, and Penobscot Bay became French."

The French effort to reclaim was off to a good start. But then there was a dip in fortune. Razilly, who had provided a steady, sensible guiding hand in the recolonization of Acadia, died in 1635. He was replaced by the stuffier d'Aulnay.