John Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur collection  [1769]-1790
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Born Michel-Guillaume Jean de Crèvecoeur, the writer and government official John Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur (1735-1813) came to North America from Normandy during the French and Indian War to map French land in Canada. He was called into military service during the conflict, rising to lieutenant in 1758. After the war, Crèvecoeur anglicized his name and traveled extensively throughout the colonies as an explorer and trader. He was made a citizen of New York State in 1765, and in 1769 he married Mehitable Tippet of Yonkers; they had three children. Though he remained neutral during the Revolution, in 1779 the British imprisoned him without trial on suspicion of being a spy. After he was released, at the end of 1779, he set off for Europe with his son, but was shipwrecked off Ireland, where he stayed until arriving at Normandy in 1781. He is best remembered for writing Letters from an American Farmer, a well-known work on late colonial America, published in 1782. Crèvecoeur was considered a important thinker of his day and maintained correspondence with such prominent Americans as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Ethan Allen. He returned to America in 1783, after Louis XVI appointed him consul to New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Upon arrival, however, he found that his estate had been burned by Indians, his wife killed, and his children missing. He was reunited with his children weeks later in Boston, where they were under the care of an English merchant named Gustavus Fellows. Crèvecoeur was anxious about his children's French legal status, since he had married outside France and outside the Catholic Church. Through the 1780s, he worked tirelessly to ensure that France recognized their legitimacy, so that they could inherit his father's lands in Normandy. Crèvecoeur returned to France in 1790 and died in Sarcelles in 1813.