American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Memory, Exhibit Object Focus

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An American Farmer

Volume 1 of holograph manuscript essay
Michel-Guillamaume Jean
de Crèvecoeur
[J. Hector St. John] (1735-1813)
Volume 1 of holograph
manuscript essay,

ca. 1769-1780
Manuscript Division
Gift of the Cafritz Foundation, 1986

In his 1782 literary classic Letters from an American Farmer, Crèvecoeur gave literary expression to an emerging American national identity and the attractions of the pastoral and agricultural landscape. He portrayed the American farmer and Indian as pastoral ideals who had escaped the corruption of civilization. Jefferson adopted this notion of naive primitivism, which elevated the Indian to "noble savage" but failed to seriously consider tribal order and Native American culture when formulating policies and theories concerning Native Americans. Crèvecouer's manuscript contains numerous essays not found in the 1782 edition.

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