J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur papers
Scope and Contents
- 1784-circa 1880
- Majority of material found within 1784 - 1810
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The 1784-1786 letterbook of Crèvecoeur family correspondence was purchased from the William Reese Company on the Henry C. Taylor Fund, 2006.
The corrected proofs of Voyage dans la Haute Pennsylvanie et dans l'Ètat de New-York were purchased from the William Reese Company on the Edwin J. Beinecke Book Fund, 2006.
3.55 Linear Feet (6 boxes)
Language of Materials
A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog
J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur (1735-1813)
In 1769 he married Mehitable Tippet, the daughter of a prominent Dutchess County family, and purchased 120 acres of farmland in Orange County. The next several years brought Crèvecoeur three children and increasing prosperity; his farm flourished,and he led a county project to drain arable meadows and reclaim farmland. Crèvecoeur kept a daily journal of observations on his experiences and on his adopted country, which he considered "the most perfect society in the world."
The advent of the American Revolution disrupted this happiness. Crèvecoeur's attempts to remain neutral won him suspicion and hostility from both sides of the conflict. In 1779, he decided to return to France to establish his children's right to inherit the family's lands in Normandy. Arrested by the British in New York City as a suspected enemy collaborator, he was imprisoned for months, but finally sailed for Europe in September of 1780. His ship was wrecked off the coast of Ireland, and he did not reach Normandy until August of 1781.
Crèvecoeur's Letters from an American Farmer was published in London early in 1782. It received international praise, appeared in several English and Irish editions, and was translated into German and Dutch. On the verge of America's independence, Crèvecoeur was the first author to provide an answer to the European question of the day: "What then is this American, this new man?"
Crèvecoeur was considered one of the foremost European authorities on the new country, and France appointed him consul to New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. He sailed for New York on the ship that carried the first copy of the Treaty of Paris to the United States. When he arrived, he discovered that his wife had died and his children had been taken in by their neighbors; his farm and its buildings had been destroyed by Native American allies of the British.
As Consul, Crèvecoeur worked to increase French-American trade and supported cultural and artistic exchanges. He was also a patron of botanical gardens, experiments with steamships, and the first Roman Catholic church in New York City. His greatly enlarged and reorganized French version of Letters was published in Paris in 1784. His many American friends included Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. St. Johnsbury, Vermont, was named after Crèvecoeur, in 1789 he was made a member of the American Philsophical Society.
Crèvecoeur returned to France in 1790, but the dangers of the French Revolution led him to retire unpensioned in 1792 and to withdraw into his family life. In 1801 he published his Voyage dans la haute Pennsylvanie et dans l'Ètat de New York; the work was not popular, and was not translated into English until 1961. Crèvecoeur spent his final years at his farm in Lesches, France, and visiting his extended family. He died at Sarcelles, near Paris, in 1813.
- New York -- Description and travel
- Pennsylvania -- Description and travel
- St. John de Crèvecoeur, J. Hector, 1735-1813 (Letters from an American farmer)
- St. John de Crèvecoeur, J. Hector, 1735-1813 (Voyage dans la haute Pensylvanie et dans l'état de New-York)
- St. John de Crèvecoeur, J. Hector, 1735-1813
- St. John de Crèvecoeur, J. Hector, 1735-1813 (Letters from an American farmer, French)
- Travelers' writings, French
- United States -- Description and travel
- United States -- Description and travel -- Early works to 1800
- United States -- Social conditions -- To 1865
- United States -- Social life and customs -- 1775-1783
- United States -- Social life and customs -- 1783-1865
- Guide to the J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur Papers
- by Diane J. Ducharme
- January 2011
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository
P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
121 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
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