Du Pont de Nemours family. Papers relating to the American Philosophical Society, 1800-1894

Mss.B.D938f

Date: 1800-1894 | Size: 0.25 Linear feet, Ca. 50 items

Background note

The Du Pont de Nemours family is one of the wealthiest and most influential American families. Pierre Samuel Du Pont de Nemours (1739–1817) was a French nobleman, writer, and political economist. He was a member of the Physiocrates. He was an acquaintance of many leading figures of his day, including Thomas Jefferson. The turmoil of the French Revolution compelled his family to immigrate to the United States in the late 1790s. His two sons Victor Marie (1767–1827) and Éleuthère Irénée (1771–1834, APS 1807) became prosperous businessmen. The latter was the founder of a gunpowder machinery at Eleuterian Mills, near Wilmington, Delaware, which eventually grew into one of the largest companies in the United States. His grandson Henry Algernon Du Pont (1828–1926, APS 1894) was U. S. Senator from Delaware.

Pierre Samuel Du Pont de Nemours was born in Paris of French Huguenot parentage. As a boy he was apprenticed as a watchmaker. However, in his early twenties he began to study economic matters, a field in which he soon showed great promise. The publication of two of his pamphlets on finances in 1762 attracted the attention of François Quesnay (1694-1774), an economist and the French king's consulting physician. Quesnay was a member of the philosophic sect the Économistes. Du Pont soon became a member of Quesnay's group, which Du Pont eventually named the Physiocrates.

Du Pont was a tireless promoter of economic and financial reforms. While this earned him criticism at home it garnered recognition abroad. In 1774, for example, he left for Poland to organize a system of national education. In 1776 political changes in France, which helped create a more favorable environment for him, led to his appointment as France's inspector general of commerce. In 1778 he served as one of the negotiators of the 1783 Treaty of Paris, by which Great Britain formally recognized the independence of the United States. Three years later, he also helped work out the terms of the commercial treaty of 1786 between France and England.

The outbreak of the French Revolution and the political instability that came with it greatly affected Du Pont's career as a public servant. As a supporter of a constitutional monarchy, he initially welcomed the revolution. He served as secretary-general of the assembly of notables in 1787, but then barely escaped banishment after the fall of the finance minister Charles Alexandre de Calonne (1734-1802), whose reform measures he had promoted. He physically defended Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette from a mob in August 1792, and as a result was condemned to death by guillotine. He was arrested and imprisoned, but Robespierre's death led to his release. Du Pont immediately renewed his attacks on the Jacobins, only to be arrested and imprisoned again; his property was looted and destroyed.

In 1799 Du Pont emigrated to the United States, along with his second wife Françoise Robin Poivre (1748–1841) and his two sons Victor Marie and Éleuthère Irénée and their families. There he cultivated close ties with American economic, political and intellectual leaders, especially Thomas Jefferson. In 1800 he was elected to the American Philosophical Society.

In 1802 Du Pont returned to Napoleonic France where he helped President Jefferson negotiate the Louisiana Purchase. However, he was unable to realize his goal of gaining a seat in the Imperial Senate. In 1814 he called for a restoration of the Bourbon monarchy; one year later, Napoleon's return from exile compelled Du Pont to leave France once again. He settled on his son Éleuthère Irénée's estate in Delaware, where he died in 1817.

Before settling permanently in the United States, Pierre Samuel's older son Victor Marie had already lived for several years in the New World. First, in the late 1780s, he helped negotiate a treaty between the State of New York and the Five Indian Nations. In addition, from 1795 to 1798, he served as French consul at Charleston, South Carolina. Upon his return to the United States, he moved with his wife and children to New York City and founded the trading company Victor du Pont de Nemours & Co. He also served as the agent for Louis Pichon, the French Consul-General and chargé d'affairs. In the early 1810s, he relocated to Delaware where he established a woolen company, later called Du Pont, Bauday & Co. In 1813 he became a partner in Du Planty, McCall & Co. In the years between 1815 and 1823, Victor Marie held seats in the Delaware House and then the Senate. He died in Philadelphia.

Victor Marie was married to Gabrielle Joséphine de la Fite de Pelleport, a daughter of the Marquis de Pelleport. They had five children, four surviving to adulthood. Their son Charles Irénée eventually took over his father's company. Another son was Samuel Francis (1803-1865, APS 1862), who became a Rear Admiral in the United States Navy.

Pierre Samuel Du Pont de Nemours' younger son Éleuthère Irénée was in his mid-twenties when he arrived in the United States. Like his father, he had been an early supporter of the French Revolution but later joined him in physically defending the king and queen. In the United States, Éleuthère Irénée concentrated his energies on business ventures, particularly the production of gunpowder. At that time the gunpowder available in the United States was of poor quality, and the younger Du Pont hoped to change that. In 1802 he established a gunpowder machinery at Eleuterian Mills, near Wilmington, Delaware. The business struggled for much of the time under his leadership; it carried significant debts, including loans taken out to assist the families of workers killed in an explosion in 1818. Nevertheless, the business eventually grew into one of the largest companies in the United States, turning the Du Pont family into one of the richest and most influential American families of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Éleuthère Irénée died in Greenville, Delaware.

Éleuthère Irénée was married to Sophie Dalmas. They had eight children, including Henry. Henry was married to Louisa Gerhard Du Pont; their son was Henry Algernon Du Pont (1828–1926, APS 1894).

Henry Algernon was born at Eleutherian Mills. After attending private schools and the University of Pennsylvania, he studied at the United States Military Academy at West Point. During the Civil War, he served in the Union Army, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Army. From 1879 to 1899 he was president and general manager of the Wilmington Northern Railroad Co.

In 1876 Henry Algernon and his wife Pauline Foster moved to Winterthur, near Wilmington, Delaware; he inherited the property in 1889. The estate had been in the Du Pont family since the 1810s, when Éleuthère Irénée purchased the first four tracts of the land that would become Winterthur. By the time Henry Algnernon became its owner it had grown into an estate of 1,135 acres, with a mansion and extensive gardens and farms. He dedicated much of his time after his retirement from business to agricultural pursuits, including the care of his prized Holstein herd.

Henry Algernon also pursued a career in politics. A staunch Republican, he served as U.S. Senator from Delaware from 1906 to 1917. After a failed bid for reelection in 1916 he retired from public service. He died at Winterthur in 1926. His only son Henry Francis (1880-1969) inherited the Winterthur estate.

Scope and content

This collection consists of photocopies of 44 items, mostly letters to and from members of the Du Pont De Nemours family. They are dated between 1800 and 1894, with the bulk of material from 1800 to 1821. The majority of the letters are in French; only a few are in English. A typed table of contents is included.

Generally, the letters are related to APS business. In one letter Jefferson informs P. S. Du Pont de Nemours of his election to the APS (1800). Additional letters by Jefferson refer to his mouldboard plough (1806) and Robert M. Patterson (1809). Several additional letters, including those written by John Vaughan, deal with issues such as scientific experiments, papers submitted by P. S. Du Pont, APS publications, and books ordered for the APS. Also included are two printed forms, with blanks filled in by hand, that thank Du Pont for his donation of books (1815, 1816). The letter by Strickland informs E. I. Du Pont has been appointed to a committee to investigate "the shortest & most practical route connecting the Delaware & Chesapeake Bays" (1821). The item dated 1859 thanks Mrs. E. Du Pont for a donation to the APS, and the two item dated 1894 relate the election of Henry A. Du Pont to membership of the APS.

Collection Information

Physical description

Ca. 50 items, photostats.

Restrictions

Restrictions on Access:

Note on folder in collection box states" This collection is to be used only for reference work and duplication must be ok'd by The Longwood Library (letter of C. W. David, director of the Longwood Library, to Mrs. G. D. Hess, March 21, 1960)"

Provenance

Presented by Longwood Library and accessioned, 03/--/1960 (1960 627ph).

Location of originals:

Originals in Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, Delaware.

Early American History Note

This Du Pont Nemours Collection contains photocopies of correspondence that relate to APS business.

Indexing Terms


Corporate Name(s)

  • American Philosophical Society

Genre(s)

  • Institutional Records

Personal Name(s)

  • Candolle, Augustin Pyramus de, 1778-1841
  • Correia da Serra, José Francisco, 1750-1823
  • Du Pont de Nemours, Pierre Samuel, 1739-1817
  • Du Pont, Eleuthère Irénée, 1771-1834
  • Du Pont, H. A. (Henry Algernon), 1838-1926
  • Du Pont, Victor Marie, 1767-1827
  • Harmand, Philippe Nicolas, 1759-1838
  • James, Thomas C. (Thomas Chalkley), 1766-1835
  • Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826
  • Lesley, J. P. (J. Peter), 1819-1903
  • Letombe, Philippe Joseph
  • Michaux, Francois André, 1770-1855
  • Monroe, James, 1758-1831
  • Phillips, Henry, 1775-1838
  • Strickland, William, 1787-1854
  • Vaughan, John, 1756-1841

Subject(s)

  • Science -- Societies, etc.
  • Science and technology


Detailed Inventory

Papers
  
Lormeny.
Letter to [Pierre S. Du Pont de Nemours, New York;
April 28, 1800 

Philadelphia, Photograph of A.L. 4p.,add. In French. (see Du Pont Family. Collection.) Concerning N.Collin and the APS. Business. Presented: Longwood Library,March 1960.

Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826.
Letter to [Pierre Samuel Du Pont de Nemours];
May 12, 1800 

Philadelphia, Photograph of A.L.S. 1p. (see Du Pont Family. Collection.) Notifies him of election to membership in the APS and its publication of an article by him. Refers to Lafayette. Presented: Longwood Library,March 1960.

Du Pont de Nemours, Pierre Samuel, 1739-1817.
Letter to Victor Du Pont
August 4, 1800 

In French.

Michaux, Francois André, 1770-1855.
Letter to [Eleuthère] I. Du Pont de Nemours, Wilmington;
Jan. 20, 1801 

Paris, Photograph of A.L.S. 3p.and.,end. In French. (see Du Pnt Family. Collection.) Concerning his publication on oaks. Refers to Vaughan, Humboldt and the APS. Presented: Longwood Library, March 1960

Vaughan, John, 1756-1841.
Letter to [Pierre S.] Du Pont de Nemours, New York
Dec. 23, 1801 

Philadelphia, Photograph of A.L.S. 1p. In French. (see Du Pont Family. Collection.) Asks that he give APS publications to a specific Frenchman and institution. Presented:Longwood library, March 1960.

Du Pont de Nemours, Pierre Samuel, 1739-1817.
Letter to [Philippe Nicolas] Harmand, Paris
March 22, [1802] 

New York, Photograph of L. 1p.and add. In French (see Du Pont Family. Collection.) Concerning publications. Refers to APS. Presented: Longwood Library, March 1960.

Vaughan, John, 1756-1841.
Letter to [Pierre S.] Dupont de Nemours [sic], New York
June 3, 1802 

Philadelphia, Photograph of A.L.S. 1p. In French. (see Du Pont Family. Collection.) Concerning APS publications. Needs his dues for the Society. Presented:Longwood Library,March 1960.

Lassus, Pierre, 1741-1807.
Letter to [Pierre S. Du Pont de Nemours];
Aug. 25, [1802] 

Paris, Photograph of A.L.S. 2p. In French. (see Du Pont Family. Collection.) Sends his book to the APS. Presented: Longwood Library,March 1960.

Létombe.
Letter to [Pierre S. Du Pont de Nemours];
Nov. 5, 1802 

Paris, []. Photograph of A.L.S. 3p.and add. In French. (see Du Pont Family.Collection) Pinchon. Refers sto the APS. Presented: Longwood Library,March 1960.

Du Pont de Nemours, Victor Marie, & Co..
Accounts (May 1, 1802 - June 14, 1805) with E. I. Du Pont de Nemours and Peter Bauduy, listing order on the APS by E.I. Du Pont de Nemours;
1802-1805 

Photograph of D. 4p. (see Du Pont Family. Collection.)

Vaughan, John, 1756-1841.
Letter to [E. I.] Du Pont de Nemours, Wilmington
Jan. 28, 1803 

Philadelphia, Photograph of A.L.S. 3p.and add. (see Du Pont Family. Collection.) Concerning publication for the APS. Concerning a new plan for resuscitation. Presented: Longwood Library,March 1960.

Vaughan, John, 1756-1841.
Letter to [Pierre S.] Du Pont de Nemours [sic], Paris
Sept. 30, 1803 

Philadelphia, Photograph of A.L.S. 1p. In French. (see Du Pont Family. Collection.) Concerning John Lowell. Refers to gifts to the Society by Du Pont's son. Presented: Longwood library,March 1960.

Vaughan, John, 1756-1841.
Letter to [Victor Marie Du Pont]
Oct. 17, 1803 

Philadelphia, Photograph of A.L.S. 1p. (see Du Pont Family. Collection.) Concerning publications for the APS. Presented: Longwood Library, March 1960

Du Pont, Eleuthère Irénée, 1771-1834.
Letter to V[ictor Marie] Du Pont de Nemours, New York;
Nov. 3, 1803 

Photograph of A.L. 3p.and add.,end. In French. (see Du Pont Family. Collection) Politics. Refers to J.Vaughan and APS. Presented: Longwood Library, March 1960.

Vaughan, John, 1756-1841.
Letter to [Victor Marie Du Pont]
Nov. 3, 1803 

Philadelphia, Photograph of A.L.S. 1p. (see Du Pont Family. Collection.) Concerning books for the APS. Presented: Longwood Library,March 1960.

Vaughan, John, 1756-1841.
Letter to Victor [Marie] Du Pont
Nov. 10, 1803 

New York; Philadelphia, Photograph of A.L.S. 2p. (see Du Pont Family. Collection.) Asks that books due the APS be forwarded as quickly as possible. Presented: Longwood Library,March 1960.

Vaughan, John, 1756-1841.
Letter to E[leuthére] I. Du Pont, Wilmington
Nov. 23, 1803 

Philadelphia, Photograph of A.L.S. 1p.and add. (see Du Pont Family. Collection.) Thanks for Forwarding books, including Michaux's, for the APS. Wishes to borrow a volume for Dr. James. Presented: Longwood Library,March 1960.

Vaughan, John, 1756-1841.
Letter to E[leuthére] I. Du Pont de Nemours, Washington;
Dec. 18, 1803 

Philadelphia, Photograph of A.L.S. 1p.and add. (see Du Pont Family. Collection.) Concerning gunpowder. Concerning periodicals for the APS. Presented: Longwood Library,March 1960.

Du Pont, Eleuthère Irénée, 1771-1834.
Letter to John Vaughan
September 19, 1805 

In French. Concerning yellow fever.

Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826.
Letter to [Pierre S.] Du Pont de Nemours;
Feb. 12, 1806 

Washington, Photograph of A.L.S. 2p. (see Du Pont Family. Collection.) His mouldboard plough. Education in New Orleans. Sent Biot's letter to the Society. Saltpetre for gunpowder. Spain. Presented: Longwood library,March 1960.

Vaughan, John, 1756-1841.
Letter to [P. S.] Du Pont de Nemours, Paris
April 22, 1808 

Photograph of A.L.S. 1p.and add. In French. (see Du Pont Family. Collection) Lists items missing in APS collection. Asks that he give Rembrandt Peale good advice and introduce him to living artists Presented: Longwood Library,March 1960.

Du Pont de Nemours, Pierre Samuel, 1739-1817.
Letter to Thomas Jefferson
June 1, 1808 

Paris, Photograph of A.L. 1p. Draft. In French. (see Du Pont Family.Collection.) Introduces M.d'Allarde,who wishes to tour the U.S. Presents publications to him, the APS, etc. Presented: Longwood Library,March 1960.

Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826.
Letter to [Pierre S.] Dupont de Nemours [sic], Paris;
May 16, 1809 

Monticello, Photograph of A.L.S. 1p.and add. (see Du Pont Family. Collection.) Introduces R.M.Patterson, son of R. Patterson, of the APS and asks that he be helped while in France. Presented: Longwood Library,March 1960.

Vaughan, John, 1756-1841.
Letter to [Pierre S.] Du Pont de Nemours, Paris
June 13, 1809 

Philadelphia, Photograph of A.L.S. 1p.and add. In French. (see Du Pont Family. Collection) Introduces R.M.Patterson, son of R. Patterson. Presented: Longwood Library,March 1960.

Michaux, Francois André, 1770-1855.
Letter to E[leuthére] I. Du Pont de Nemours, Wilmington;
March 19, 1810 

Paris, Photograph of A.L.S. 3p.and add., end. In French. (see Du Pont Family. Collection.) His work on oaks. Presented: Longwood Library, March 1960.

American Philosophical Society.
Letter to [Pierre S.] Du Pont de Nemours, Paris;
Oct. 4, 1815 

Philadelphia, Photograph of printed L. filled in in ms. S.: Tho.C.James, Sec. 1p. (see Du Pont Family. Collection.) Thanks for his publications. Presented: Longwood Library,March 1960.

Du Pont de Nemours, Pierre Samuel, 1739-1817.
Letter to Mme. Du Pont de Nemours, Paris
Oct. 10, 1815 

Photograph of A.L. 4p. Draft. In French. (see Du Pont Family. Collection) Newsy letter to current happenings in America. Refers to APS, Jefferson, Du Ponceau, etc. Presented: Longwood Library,March 1960.

Du Pont de Nemours, Pierre Samuel, 1739-1817.
Letter to [José Francesco Corrêa da Serra];
April 6, 1816 

Photograph of A.L. 3p.and end. In French. (see Du Pont Family.Collection) Concerning Europe and republics. Presented: Longwood Library, March 1960.

Correia da Serra, José Francisco, 1750-1823.
Letter to [Pierre S. Du Pont de Nemours];
June 18, 1816 

Philadelphia, Photograph of A.L.S. 2p. In French. (see Du Pont Family. Collection.) Has been ill. Goes to Washington. Friendly letter. Presented: Longwood Library, March 1960.

American Philosophical Society.
Letter to [Pierre S.] Du Pont de Nemours, Wilmington;
July 29, 1816 

Philadelphia, Photograph of printed L.filled in in ms.S: Thos.C.James, Sec. 1p. (see Du Pont Family. Collection.) Thanks for communications. Presented: Longwood Library,March 1960.

Correia da Serra, José Francisco, 1750-1823.
Letter to [Pierre S. Du Pont de Nemours];
Nov. 15, 1816 

Philadelphia, Photograph of A.L.S. 1p. In French. (see Du Pont Family. Collection.) Concerning America. Will visit him. Presented: Longwood Library,March 1960.

Du Pont de Nemours, Pierre Samuel, 1739-1817.
Letter to [José Francesco Corrêa da Serra]
Nov. 29, 1816 

Photograph of A.L. Draft. 4p. In French. (see Du Pont Family. Collection) Praises him. Hopes he visits them. Friendly letter. Presented: Longwood library, March 1960.

Correia da Serra, José Francisco, 1750-1823.
Letter to [Pierre S.] Du Pont de Nemours, Wilmington;
Dec. 30, 1816 

Washington, Photograph of A.L.S. 1p.and add. In French. (see Du Pont Family. Collection.) Friendly letter. Botany. Presented: Lowood Library, March 1960.

Du Pont de Nemours, Pierre Samuel, 1739-1817.
Letter to J[osé Francesco] Corrêa da Serra;
Jan. 17, 1817 

Photograph of L.in hand of Alexandre Cardon de Sandrans, secy. 5p. In French. (see Du Pont Family. Collection.) Religion; Jefferson; education; Philosophes, Franklin, et al. Presented: Longwood Library,March 1960.

Strickland, William, 1787-1854.
Letter to E[leuthère] I. Du Pont [de Nemours], Wilmington;
Sept. 24, 1821 

Philadelphia, Photograph of A.L.S. 1p.and add.,end. (see Du Pont Family. Collection.) Informs him that the APS appointed him to a committee concerning a canal. Presented: Longwood Library, March 1960.

American Philosophical Society.
Letter to Mrs. Eleuthere [Du Pont] Smith, Wilmington;
Jan. 28, 1859 

Photograph of Printed L.filled in in ms. S. J. P. Lesley, Librarian. 1p.and add. (see Du Pont Family. Collection.) Thanks for publication. Presented: Longwood Library,March 1960.

American Philosophical Society.
Letter to Henry A. Du Pont, Wilmington;
Feb. 16, 1894 

Philadelphia, Photograph of printed L.S.: Henry Phillips, Sec. 1p. (see Du Pont Family. Collection.) Notifies him of election as member. Presented: Longwood Library,March 1960.

American Philosophical Society.
APS Membership Certificate
February 16, 1894 
Candolle, Augustin Pyramus de, 1778-1841.
Letter to Mme. [Françoise Robin Poivre] Du Pont de Nemours,
undated 

Paris. Photograph of A.L.S. 1p.and add. In French. (see Du Pont Family. Collection) Forwards publication for the APS. Presented: Longwood Library,March 1960.

Du Pont, Eleuthère Irénée, 1771-1834.
Account with the American philosophical society and John Vaughan.
undated 

Photograph of D. 1p.and add.: [Peter] Bauduy. 1p.and add. (see Du Pont Family. Collection.)

Du Pont de Nemours, Pierre Samuel, 1739-1817.
Letter to Jos[é Francesco] Corrêa [da Serra]
undated 

Photograph of L.in hand of Alexandre Cardon de Sandrans, secy. 2p. In French. (see Du Pont Family. Collection.) Concerning his appointment, and the philosophes who have been friends of kings. Presented: Longwood Library,March 1960.

Du Pont de Nemours, Pierre Samuel, 1739-1817.
Letter to [James Monroe]
undated 

Photograph of A.L. 1p. Draft. In French. (see Du Pont Family.Collection) Forwards items. Refers to the APS, John Vaughan, and T.Jefferson. Presented: Longwood Library,March 1960.

Vaughan, John, 1756-1841.
Letter to E[leuthére] I. Du Pont de Nemours,
undated 

Wilmington. Photograph of A.L.S. 1p.and add.,end. (see Du Pont Family. Collection.) Sends APS publication. Concerning Audubon's Birds... Presented: Longwood Library,March 1960.