June 16, 1995 Halifax Herald

Governor Edward Cornwallis: you be the judge

When giving the convocation address to a September 27, 1989, meeting of the Atlantic First Nations Chiefs in Dartmouth, I used the occasion to break the silence that has prevailed in Canadian historical circles and society about the genocide suffered by the Mi’kmaq at the hands of the British. Since then, I've occasionally come under attack from those who believe firmly in the notion that all British leadership posts have traditionally been filled by leaders blessed with saintly characteristics.

One comment which will live with me for the rest of my days is this one: "You creature, you. How dare you be critical of those who have done so much for your people! My ancestors educated yours and made their lives complete." How this person could equate the horror felt by a people who saw their country invaded by a foreign state, whose ultimate goal was their civilization's total destruction, and which reduced them from a high standard of living to a starvation existence, as being an improvement in their lifestyle is a mystery of the deepest proportions to me. Other dillies have been sent my way since 1989, but none have approached the awesome ignorance and stupidity shown by that one.

I'll now lay before you the conduct of Edward Cornwallis as a perpetrator of genocide.

In 1744, after decades of fighting an undeclared war, the colonial governments of Massachusetts and Nova Scotia formally declared war upon the Mi’kmaq Nation. Part and parcel of this declaration was a bounty placed upon the heads of the Mi’kmaq - also for any whites who may be aiding them. Prices varied for the scalps of men, women and children.

In early 1749, under the direction of Commissioner Lord Halifax, the Lords of Trades and Plantations implemented a plan to settle more Protestants in Nova Scotia. The Lords named Edward Cornwallis to lead the effort. Upon having his appointment as Governor of the colony confirmed, Cornwallis, with a large contingent of settlers, and military personnel, set sail in May for Nova Scotia. Upon arrival in mid-summer at Chebucto harbour, they set about establishing a settlement which they named Halifax in honour of the Commissioner.

Shortly after arrival, in an effort to establish his authority over the colony, Cornwallis contacted the Maliseet and renewed with them the treaty of 1725. With the Mi’kmaq, because of his arrogant approach, peace efforts failed - at that time, the Mi’kmaq were still a military force to be reckoned with. If Cornwallis had chosen to deal with the Mi’kmaq in a respectful manner, it is my firm conviction that peace would have prevailed.

On October 1, 1749, in what appears to be ignorance of the existing state of war, Cornwallis called a meeting of Council to deal with the Mi’kmaq situation. They decided that to declare war against the Mi’kmaq would acknowledge them as a free and independent people, whereas they should be treated as criminals, or as rebels to His Majesty's government. They would raise a company of up to fifty volunteers locally for immediate field action against the Mi’kmaq, and further would raise during the winter a company of one hundred bounty hunters in New England to join with Gorham’s Rangers to hunt the province for human prey. They would pay the bounty hunters a fee for every Mi’kmaq taken or killed.

In keeping with the course decided upon, Cornwallis, on October 2nd, issued this proclamation:

"WHEREAS, notwithstanding the gracious offers of friendship and protection made in His Majesty's Names by us to the Indians inhabiting this Province (a list of acts of war was made)...

“FOR, those cause we by and with the advice and consent of His Majesty's Council, do hereby authorize and command all Officers Civil and Military, and all His Majesty's Subjects or others to annoy, distress, take or destroy the Savage commonly called Micmac, wherever they are found, and all as such as aiding and assisting them, give further by and with the consent and advice of His Majesty's Council, do promise a reward of ten Guineas for every Indian Micmac taken or killed, to be paid upon producing such Savage taken or his scalp if killed to the Officer Commanding at Halifax, Annapolis Royal, or Minas."

Cornwallis, reporting to the Lords of Trade in London, wrote:

"When I first arrived, I made known to these Micmac, His gracious Majesty's intentions of cultivating Amity and Friendship with them... (He then listed the actions taken against the Micmac and his peace treaty with the Saint John's Indians etc.) The Saint John's Indians I made peace with...tho' Treaties with Indians are nothing, nothing but force will prevail."

The governing powers of Great Britain responded thus to his report:

"As to the measures which you have already taken for reducing the Indians, we entirely approve them...you will be better able to judge whether measures of peace will be effectual or not; if you should find that they will not, we do not in the least doubt your vigour and activity in endeavouring to reduce them by force."

The Lords had another caution for him and the council: "by filling the minds of bordering Indians with ideas of our cruelty" they might cause the Tribes to unite and carry out a general continental war with the Europeans. You now have as much details as one can give in a limited space. You be the judge!

Daniel N. Paul



To sign a petition to have Colonial Governor Edward Cornwallis's name removed from public places and things in the Maritime Provinces please click


On October 1, 1749, Governor Edward Cornwallis and his Military Government, in an attempt to exterminate Nova Scotia's Mi'kmaq, issued a proclamation for the scalps of Mi'kmaq men, women, and children, and any Whites who were assisting them. In spite of the Governor's attempt to commit Genocide, many of the Province's public places and things are named in his honour. Without question, honoring a man who attempted to commit Genocide is morally unacceptable, and is an affront to the dignity of the descendants of the Mi'kmaq he tried to eliminate!

Therefore, this petition is being circulated to gather public support to have all these places and things renamed to honor historical and contemporary individuals who are worthy of such honors. CLICK to read background information about Cornwallis:


Please visit these URLs to read more about British barbarities


A better understanding of the before mentioned can be had by reading: First Nations History - We Were Not the Savages - 2006 Edition

Please click to read about The Doctrine of Discovery: http://www.danielnpaul.com/DoctrineOfDiscovery.html

Please click to read about Christopher Columbus: http://www.danielnpaul.com/ChristopherColumbus.html