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William Shirley

William Shirley was born in 1694. Originally from Preston, England, he first arrived in Boston in 1731 with the intention of practicing law. Ten years following his arrival in New England, he was named Governor of Massachusetts.

Shirley had little admiration for the Acadians. On one occasion, he said, that they were "the most obnoxious French inhabitants of Nova Scotia". Shirley strongly believed that the Acadians would form a fifth column against English forces in the region and perceived them to be a menace because of their proximity to New England.

In June 1755, only a few months before the beginning of the deportation, Shirley launched a 2,000 man attack against Fort Beauséjour. This became a harbinger of things to come considering how Shirley and Lawrence cooperated in the deportation. In Boston, Governor Shirley did not hesitate to accept the deportees even though their numbers were great, mainly because they were unarmed and because at the time, Massachusetts was the best defended of all the colonies. Following the deportations, Shirley lost his posting (1756), but the impact of his ideas and actions had already caused enormous damage. He died in 1771, in Roxbury, Massachusetts.

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