John Crevecoeur’s life began in Caen, Normandy, France on January 31, 1735, when he was born Michel Guillaume Jean de Crevecoeur to the Comte and Comtesse (Count and Countess) de Crevecoeur. His early education occurred both in France and England. He attended Jesuit College Royal de Bourbon and left the school in 1750.
The death of his fiancé is likely the reason that Crevecoeur sailed to Canada around 1754, serving in the military during the French and Indian War as a surveyor and cartographer. In 1764, having already changed his name to Hector St. John, he moved to America, soon becoming a naturalized citizen of New York. In 1769, he moved to land that he purchased near the Hudson River, naming his property Pine Hill. He married Mehitable Tippett, an American, in 1770.
About a decade later, during the heart of the American Revolution, Crevecoeur returned to Europe because his father was suffering from poor health. It was during this time that St., John de Crevecoeur saw time in prison when, after having entered New York City (then occupied by the British), he was charged as a spy. Crevecoeur moved to France. after having been detained by the British over concerns that he was a spy; these charges by the British resulted in Crevecoeur serving time in prison.
In 1782, his work Letters from an American Farmer, which was written while Crevecoeur was still at Pine Hill, was published in London. The work became quite popular in Europe and helped make Crevecoeur a well-known and well-loved figure. The following year, he became French Consul to New York. However, Crevecoeur made a terrible discovery upon returning to Pine Hill; the property was destroyed by an Indian attack, his wife had been murdered, and his children were now living in Boston; in time, Crevecoeur was able to take back his children.
Crevecoeur soon began working closely with Thomas Jefferson in an effort to bring together French and American interests. In 1787, the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Vermont acted to make St. John de Crevecoeur and his three children citizens of the commonwealth. However, in 1790, he moved back to France. By this time, Crevecoeur’s books had been translated into many languages and were quite popular throughout Europe.
As the years wound on, Crevecoeur’s celebrity receded, and his Voyage dans la Haute Pennsylvanie et dans l’eetate de New York, published in 1801, received little attention. On November 12, 1813, he passed away in France.
“J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur.” Houghton Mifflin Online Study Center. 16 October 2007. http://college.hmco.com/english/lauter/heath/4e/students/author_pages/eighteenth/stjohndecrevecoeur_jh.html
“J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur.” Washington State University. 16 October 2007. http://www.wsu.edu/~campbelld/amlit/crevecoeur.htm
“John Hector St. De Crevecoeur St. John.” Answers.com. 16 October 2007. http://www.answers.com/topic/john-hector-de-crevecoeur-st-john