More information about Crevecoeur:

J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur

CREVECOEUR, J. Hector St. John de, author, born in Normandy in 1731; died in 1809 or 1813. He finished his education in England, and embarked for America in 1754. He purchased an estate in the neighborhood of New York, and married the daughter of an American merchant. During the wars of the Revolution his farm was frequently ravaged, and he himself forced to seek safety in flight.


In 1780, as his affairs in Europe required his presence, he obtained permission from the British commander to cross the line of the army, and entered New York with one of his sons, from which City he was about to sail. But the unexpected appearance of a French squadron led to his being suspected of having entered New York as a spy, and he was cast into prison.


After a detention of three months, he was released by two prominent merchants becoming security for him. He then embarked on a vessel sailing for Dublin, and reached France in 1782. About this time he introduced the culture of the American potato into Normandy.


He had previously published in English his "Letters of an American Farmer." He now translated those letters into French and had them published in Paris. He then returned to New York, where he was appointed French consul.


No sooner had he landed, in November 1783, than he learned that his house had been burned and his farm ravaged by the savages. His wife had died a few weeks before, and he could learn nothing of his children. He discovered them, however, in the charge of an English merchant named Flower, who, through gratitude for Crevecoeur's kindness to the English prisoners in Normandy, had, at great risk, rescued them.


The appointment of Crevecoeur was agreeable to the American government, and Washington gave him particular proofs of his esteem. He accompanied Franklin in the journey that the latter took in 1787 to Lancaster to lay the first stone of the College which he had founded.


The "Lettres d'un cultivateur Américain" consists of three volumes, giving a description of the United States and Canada. It was so laudatory of the climate, productions, etc., that more than five hundred families left France on the faith of Crevecoeur's statements, and settled on the Ohio, where most of them perished. He also wrote "La culture des pommes de terre" and "Voyage dans la haute Pensylvanie et dans l'état de New York" (2 vols., Paris, 1801).