Chastellux, François-Jean de Beauvoir, Chevalier de

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Chastellux, François-Jean de Beauvoir, Chevalier de

CHASTELLUX, FRANÇOIS-JEAN DE BEAUVOIR, CHEVALIER DE. (1734–1788). (Later marquis de.) French officer and writer. The grandson of Chancellor Aguesseau, Chastellux entered the army as lieutenant en second in the Auvergne Regiment on 23 March. 1747, was promoted to captain on 20 May 1754, and became a colonel of the Chastellux Regiment at the age of twenty-one. Aide-major general of the Army of the Lower Rhine (1757), he became colonel of the Regiment of La Marche (1759) and then the Regiment of Guyenne (1761). Brigadier in 1769, he served in 1778 in the Army of Broglie on the coast and was promoted to maréchal de camp on 1 March 1780. Sent to America as major general under Rochambeau, he was helpful as an English translator. He remained in Newport until the start of the Yorktown campaign, stayed in Virginia until the summer of 1782, marched back with the French army to New England, relinquished his post as maréchal de camp, went to Philadelphia, and sailed from Annapolis early in January 1783. Named inspector general in 1782, he took the title of marquis upon the death of his brother in 1784. He became divisional inspector in Normandy on 1 April 1788 but died suddenly of a fever.

Chastellux's larger reputation lies in his work as a literary and philosophical figure. In 1772 he wrote his famous essay On Public Happiness. He also wrote for the Encyclopédie. Chastellux was elected to the French Academy in 1775. His visit across several states provided material for a book, Travels in North America. Howard C. Rice Jr., translator of an English edition of Travels, wrote of Chastellux: "He was equally at ease in staff conferences, in the drawing rooms of Philadelphia or Boston, and in roadside taverns" (vol. 1, pg. 16).


Carson, George Barr, Jr. "The Chevalier de Chastellux: Soldier and Philosophe." Ph.D. dissertation, University of Chicago, 1942.

Chastellux, François Jean de Beauvoir, Chevalier de. Travels in North America in the Years 1780, 1781, and 1782. 2 vols. Edited and translated by Howard C. Rice Jr. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1963.

Whitridge, Arnold. "Two Aristocrats in Rochambeau's Army." Virginia Quarterly Review 40 (1964): 114-128.

                          revised by Robert Rhodes Crout