Skip to main content

Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours letter to Claude-Antoine Guyot des Herbiers

1809 November 9
 Collection
Identifier: 1117

Abstract

Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours (1739-1817) was a French political economist, writer, publisher, and public administrator. He was an advocate for a national educational system and promoted Franco-American trade relations. In 1800, du Pont de Nemours emmigrated to the United States with his sons. This item is a letter from du Pont de Nemours to Claude-Antoine Guyot des Herbiers (1745-1825), a French writer, lawyer, and politician. The letter is written in French and congratulates Guyot des Hebiers on a recent political nomination.

Dates

  • 1809 November 9

Creator

Extent

2 item(s)

Physical Description

1 letter, handwritten ; signed. 1 typescript copy.

Biographical Note

Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours (1739-1817) was a French political economist, writer, publisher, and public administrator. He was an advocate for a national educational system and promoted Franco-American trade relations.

Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours was born in Paris on December 14, 1739. He was apprenticed as a watchmaker, but during the early 1760s he began to study and write on economic matters. In 1767 du Pont de Nemours coined the term Physiocracy, which means the rule of nature, to describe the complex doctrine of French economist, François Quesnay (1694-1774), which is now cognized as the first modern school of economics.

In July 1774, the du Pont family departed for Poland, where du Pont de Nemours was to serve the Polish monarch in various capacities, including that of honorary councilor. He was shortly recalled to France, however, and commissioned as Inspecteur Général du Commerce, a position he held until its abolition in 1788. During the late 1770s, he was an economic advisor to Jacques Necker (1732-1804) a Genevan banker who served as finance minister for King Louis XVI (1754-1793) from 1789 to 1790 but held a number of other posts in regard to finances for the royal treasury between 1777 and 1789.

In the early 1780s, du Pont de Nemours was involved in the negotiations leading to the Anglo-French Commercial Treaty of 1786. The treaty reduced tariffs on goods between France and Britain. In 1786, he was appointed Counseiller d'Etat by King Louis XVI. In this position he acted as a government official of administrative law. The following year he served as secretary of the first Assemblée des Notables at Versailles to consult on matters of state.

At the onset of the French Revolution, du Pont de Nemours served as a member of the Assemblée Nationale Constituante (1789-1791). The purpose of the assembly was to discuss a new constitution and taxation system. He allied himself with the moderate Girondist faction. Girondists were initially part of the Jacobin movement. The Jacobin Club were anti-royalists who supported the abolition of the monarchy, a creation of parliament, an introduction of a constitution, a separation of powers, and an establishment of a republic. The Girondins supported the end of the monarchy; however, they were not for the revolution and many opposed the execution of the King, who was arrested in August 1792 and put to death on January 21, 1793.

After the leader of the Jacobin party, Maximilien Robespierre (1758-1794) took power, Girondin deputies and members of other opposing movements were arrested, put on trial, and many were executed. This time period is known as the Reign of Terror. Du Pont was arrested in July 1794, but he escaped the guillotine upon Robespierre's fall at the end of the month.

In 1795 du Pont de Nemours was chosen as a member of the Counseil des Anciens (Council of Elders), the upper house of the French legislature. Following the Coup d'état of September 4, 1795, he was again arrested and held for one night.

The du Ponts began to explore the possibility of emigration to the United States. On January 3, 1800, accompanied by his sons, Victor Marie du Pont (1767-1827) and Eleuthère Irénée du Pont (1771-1834), he arrived in America. Du Pont de Nemours and his sons established the commission house of Du Pont de Nemours, Pere et Fils & Cie. in New York.

Du Pont de Nemours and his wife returned to France in 1802, and he held various government posts under Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821). In 1814 he became a member of the provisional government which deposed Napoleon and exiled him to Elba. Upon Napoleon's return, du Pont de Nemours again fled to America, where he died at the home of his son, Eleuthère Irénée du Pont in Delaware on August 7, 1817.

Scope and Contents

Claude-Antoine Guyot des Herbiers (1745-1825) was a French writer, lawyer, and politician. In this letter from Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours (1739-1817) to Guyot des Herbiers, du Pont congratulates Guyot on his nomination to political office. Du Pont indicates that, despite his and others' strong support, Guyot's candidacy will not succeed. In a postscript, he warns Guyot to keep the contents of the letter secret.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Language of Materials

French


Additional Information

Related Names

Creator

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours letter to Claude-Antoine Guyot des Herbiers
Status:
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
English
Script of description:
Latin

Revision Statements

  • 2020: Laurie Sather

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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