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Eleuthère Irénée du Pont papers

1782-1838
 Collection
Accession: LMSS-III

Abstract

Éleuthère Irénée du Pont de Nemours (1771–1834) was a French American chemist and industrialist who founded the gunpowder manufacturer, E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company. E.I. du Pont married Sophie Dalmas du Pont (1775-1828) in 1791, and the couple had eight children, one of whom died in infancy. This collection primarily consists of E.I. du Pont's personal and business correspondence; writings and notes; school materials; memoranda on manufactures and tariffs; legal agreements; patents; and land surveys. Also included are Sophie Dalmas du Pont's correspondence and household account records.

Dates

  • 1782-1838

Creator

Extent

6 Linear Feet

Biographical Note

Éleuthère Irénée du Pont de Nemours (1771–1834) was a French American chemist and industrialist who founded the gunpowder manufacturer, E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company. Eleuthère Irénée du Pont, the son of Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours (1739-1817), was born in Paris on June 24, 1771. In 1787, he was accepted as a student in the Regis des Poudres, a government agency for the manufacture of gunpowder which was directed by Antoine Lavoisier (1743-1794). In 1800 he emigrated to the United States, where he, his father and brother, Victor Marie du Pont (1767-1827), established the commission house Du Pont de Nemours, Père et Fils & Cie.

After consulting with Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) he established E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. in 1802 on the bank of the Brandywine River, just north of Wilmington, Delaware and dissolved the New York commission house, which was only marginally profitable. In the spring of 1803 he settled his family at Eleutherian Mills and wrote to Jefferson seeking government patronage for his new powder factory.

By the War of 1812 E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., which had adopted European technology to the American environment, had become one of the largest powder producers in the United States. E.I. du Pont and his sons were active in Whig Party politics, as they were supporters of high protective tariff. On this and other issues he strongly identified with Henry Clay. In 1822 E.I. du Pont was named Director of the Bank of the United States, a position he held until shortly before his death.

Sophie Madeleine Dalmas (1775-1828) was the daughter of Sophie Marie Madeleine Gentil (1744-circa 1829) and Jean Francois Dalmas (1740-1808). E.I. du Pont and Sophie Dalmas du Pont married in 1791, and the couple had eight children, one of whom died in infancy. After their marriage, she lived at the du Pont family estate, Bois des Fossés, with her father-in-law, while her husband worked in his father's printing shop in Paris. When her father-in-law was arrested and imprisoned in Paris in 1794, Sophie du Pont left her eldest child at Bois des Fossés with family members and went to Paris, where she remained until his release a month later. She and other family members left France in 1799, arrived in the United States in 1800, and established housekeeping in Bergen Point, New Jersey. They relocated north of Wilmington, Delaware, along the Brandywine in 1802 and built their home, Eleutherian Mills, a gunpowder manufactory. She suffered a concussion as a result of an explosion at the mills in 1818, never fully recovering, and died at Eleutherian Mills in 1828.

Scope and Content

This collection primarily consists of E.I. du Pont's personal and business correspondence; writings and notes; school materials; memoranda on manufactures and tariffs; legal agreements; patents; and land surveys. Also included are papers concerning the South Brandywine Rangers, a militia unit during the War of 1812.

E.I. du Pont's correspondence is primarily personal but contains frequent references to business matters. The bulk of the letters were written by du Pont to his wife, father, and brother. Matters discussed include the Paris printing operations, the firm of du Pont de Nemours, Père et Fils & Cie., the financial affairs of Victor du Pont, E.I. du Pont's horticultural and botanical interests, the patronage of Thomas Jefferson in furthering the success of the powder company, the establishment of ancillary leather, cotton and woolen manufacturing enterprises on the Brandywine, the tariff issue, the importation of Merino sheep, community affairs, and the education of du Pont's children.

The Special papers series includes personal accounts; student copy books and notes on the subjects of botany, physics, chemistry, natural history, Latin, and horticulture; botanical notes, including an essay on the culture of American corn; memoranda on the manufacture of gunpowder and the construction of the Brandywine mills; memoranda on American manufactures and the tariff; and notes on travels to Pittsburgh (1806) and Angelica, New York (1808).

Also included are papers concerning the South Brandywine Rangers (a militia unit during the War of 1812); legal agreements concerning the acquisition of property for the Delaware powder mills and the importation of Merino sheep; du Pont's shares in the Wilmington & Philadelphia Turnpike Co.; rules and regulations of the Philadelphia & Wilmington Steam Boat Co. (1829); patents and lists of lands owned by du Pont near Pittsburgh and in Virginia; estate papers of Dr. Pierre Didier; and a letter from Louis McLane regarding information from Delaware for his census of manufactures.

Sophie Dalmas du Pont's papers consist primarily of correspondence with E.I. du Pont. The correspondence between Sophie Dalmas du Pont and her husband dates from 1792 through 1817. Much of the correspondence was written prior to the family's emigration to the United States in 1799 and contains details of their life in France. The letters include information on child rearing, health and medicinal recipes, and diet. The correspondence documents her domestic responsibilities and supervison of the family's farm and vineyards. The letters, affectionate in tone, express the couple's mutual sadness at being apart and reflect a companionate marriage.

Her papers include three household account ledgers dating from 1819 to 1827, which were used to record expenses for groceries, clothing, and domestic servants' wages. The ledgers also document production at the family's farm. Bills and receipts date from 1803 to 1827, document purchases of groceries, fabrics, and shoes.

Related Material

Eleuthère Irénée du Pont papers (Accession WMSS:IV), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library

E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company records (Accession LMSS:5), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library

A. Cardon & Company records (Accession 500), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library

Language of Materials

English


Additional Information

Additional Description

Provenance

Gift of Pierre S. du Pont.

The Longwood Manuscripts comprise the manuscript collections of Pierre Samuel "P.S." du Pont (1870-1954). They formed the core collection of the Longwood Library, established as an independent research library in the year of his death. In 1961 the Longwood Library merged with the Hagley Museum, and the collection became known as The Longwood Manuscripts.

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
Eleuthère Irénée du Pont papers
Status:
Author:
John Beverley Riggs
Date:
1961
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
English
Script of description:
Latin

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Contact:
PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA
302-658-2400