Hector St. John de Crevecoeur - Lake Mills Area School District

Hector St. John de
Crevecoeur (1735-1813)
• French mapmaker who settled in New
York and married an American woman
• Left during the Revolution to tend to his
sick father
• 1782 published Letters from an American
• Returned to NY in 1783 to find wife dead
and farm destroyed
Biography, cont.
• Stayed in New York City for most of 1780s
• Returned to France at the end of his life
Letters from an American
Farmer (1782)
• First literary success by American author
in Europe
• Described whole country, not just one
• Shaped European understanding of
American identity
• Celebrated ingenuity, simplicity, diversity
of colonies
“What is an American?”
From Letters from an American
General characteristics:
no nobility
no factories
no luxury
smaller gap between rich and poor
subsistence farmers
“mild government”
General Characteristics (cont.)
• come from many countries: England,
Scotland, Ireland, France, the
Netherlands, Germany, Sweden
• have dignity, not poverty and oppression
• reap the benefits of their own labor (don’t
have to give it up to nobility or church)
• have little or no connection to their
countries of origin, which offered them
only poverty and oppression
Regional characteristics
eat a lot of seafood
bold and enterprising
interact with a lot of people
love traffic
want to transport goods
Regional characteristics
“Middle settlements”
mostly farmers
little interference from government or religion
litigious (like to bring lawsuits to protect their
own interests)
• proud and obstinate (stubborn)
• think for themselves
• politically active and freely express their
Regional characteristics
“great woods” (frontier)
possibly greedy for land
discord, lack of friends
local officials behave no better than anyone else
at war with other people and/or nature
hunters, supplemented by some farming
as more settlers move in and make the area
more “respectable,” these people will be driven
further away
Religious characteristics:
• when people of same religion settle near one
another, they build churches and are involved
with religion
• much freedom to found new places of worship
• if isolated from others of same religion, then
influence and practice of religion is less
• people don’t tell others how to worship (usually)
• intermarriage is acceptable
• religion may be determined by what is in the
neighborhood, rather than how one was raised