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E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. records

1782-1902 Majority of material found within 1802-1830
 Collection
Accession: LMSS-V

Abstract

E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company was organized in Paris in 1801 by Pierre Samuel "P.S." du Pont de Nemours (1739-1817) and his son Eleuthère Irénée "E.I." du Pont (1771-1834) for the manufacture of gunpowder. Included here are records of the firm collected by P.S. du Pont and separated from the main body of company records.

Dates

  • 1782-1902
  • Majority of material found within 1802-1830

Creator

Extent

27 Linear Feet

General Physical Description note

52 boxes

Historical Note

E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company was organized in Paris in 1801 by Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours (1739-1817) and his son Eleuthère Irénée "E.I." du Pont (1771-1834). The next year, E.I. du Pont purchased a mill site on the banks of the Brandywine River just north of Wilmington, Delaware, and began making preparations to establish a black powder manufactory. During the winter of 1802 to 1803, E.I. du Pont recruited a small workforce and began building the company's mills. By the spring of 1804, the powder was being produced, and the company had secured a commitment from President Thomas Jefferson to purchase DuPont gunpowder for the Army and Navy. With this contract in place, the company started to recruit immigrant Irish workers for the mills and hired its first independent sales agents.

During the War of 1812, the DuPont Company became a major supplier of gunpowder for the U.S. government as its total sales exceeded 500,000 pounds. After the war, the company expanded as it began selling large quantities of powder to coal mine operators and railroad entrepreneurs. In 1837 Henry du Pont (1812-1889), E.I. du Pont's son, took over the management of the company and began to rationalize the company's managerial practices. During the Civil War, DuPont became the largest supplier of powder for the Union Army, and in the late 1860s and 1870s, it used its wartime profits to purchase control of many of its competitors.

In 1872 DuPont organized the Gunpowder Trade Association, which acted as a cartel to limit competition and raise prices. In the late 1880s and early 1890s, the company began experimenting with smokeless powder, and it purchased the rights to distribute dynamite in America from Alfred Nobel. By the late nineteenth century, the company was beginning to lose market share as its mills were becoming obsolete. In 1899 DuPont incorporated and began to modernize its mills and rationalize its archaic management structure.

Throughout the 1900s and 1910s, the company shifted its focus away from gunpowder production and towards chemistry innovations.

Scope and Content

The collection consists of records of the firm of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company collected by P.S. du Pont and separated from the main body of company records. Series I. contains correspondence with over 500 individuals and firms, including customers, suppliers, sales agents, and shippers, and between the partners and the employees of the firm. The letters between E.I. du Pont and Peter Bauduy contain much detail about the establishment and early progress of the company. This series also contains a diary of Lammot du Pont and copies of his letters during a business trip to Europe (1858), giving an account of refineries and powder factories in England, France, Belgium, and Prussia.

Series II. consists of accounts covering sales, production, supplies, construction, and real estate. Of particular interest are the itemized statements prepared by E.I. du Pont or Raphael Du Planty to explain the financial affairs of the company to its foreign stockholders.

Series III. consists of special papers relating to several lawsuits, including that of Peter Bauduy (1815-1829) charging mismanagement, that of Madame Bureaux de Pusy over dividends, and other suits against employees for pirating tools and techniques. Other papers relate to the organization of the company, contracts, and land and water rights. Memos and reports on operations include an examination by Lammot du Pont of the powder mills at Dartford, England (1851), lists of workmen at the Brandywine Works, patents for improvements in explosives, and a record of accidents and explosions at Brandywine (1815-1902).

Language of Materials

French


Additional Information

Additional Description

Provenance

Gift of Pierre S. du Pont

Related Names

Creator

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. records
Status:
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