Trade or Raid: Acadian Settlers and Native Americans Before 1755
Public Choice, Forthcoming
49 Pages Posted: 24 Nov 2020
Date Written: September 25, 2020
Could North America have been settled more peacefully, with fewer property rights violations against Native Americans? To answer this question, we utilize the case of French colonists of Atlantic Canada (the Acadians) and a Native American tribe (the Mi’kmaq) between the 17th and 18th centuries in the areas around the Bay of Fundy in the modern provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Under a relative state of anarchy, both the Acadians and the Mi’kmaq were able to minimize the relative returns to using violence by adopting rules of collective decision-making that favored consensus-building. By prioritizing consensus, distributional coalitions were faced with higher decision-making costs, making it difficult for concentrated interest groups within each society to capture the gains from fighting and spilling them over as external costs over the rest of the population. As a result, both the Acadians and the Mi’kmaq were able to reap the benefits of productive specialization and social cooperation under the division of labor.
Keywords: Anarchy; Collective Decision Making; Property Rights
JEL Classification: D74; N11; P14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation