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Samuel Francis Du Pont miscellany

Creation: 1829-1863 Creation: undated
Accession: 1420


Samuel Francis du Pont (1803-1865) was a Rear Admiral in the United States Navy and fought in the Mexican-American War and the Civil War. The collection contains miscellany relating to du Pont, including testimonial from Union League of Philadelphia, receipt for newspaper subscription, envelopes, and a poem.


  • Creation: 1829-1863
  • Creation: undated



10 item(s)

Biographical Note

Samuel Francis Du Pont (1803-1865) was a Rear Admiral in the United States Navy and fought in the Mexican-American War and the Civil War. He was the fourth child and second surviving son of Victor Marie du Pont (1767-1827) and his wife, Gabrielle Joséphine de la Fite de Pelleport (1770-1837), born at Bergen Point (now Bayonne), New Jersey, on September 27, 1803. Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours (1739-1817), the famous French economist and diplomat, was his paternal grandfather.

In 1815, Du Pont received a commission as midshipmen in the United States Navy. During the next thirty years he rose steadily within the ranks, becoming a Commander attached to the Pacific squadron in 1844. During the Mexican-American War he earned distinction for his defense of the California blockade. After the Mexican War Du Pont began a decade long tour of shore duty. He was an advocate for naval modernization. In 1849 he drew up the curriculum for the Naval Academy in Annapolis. In 1855 he was appointed to the Naval Efficiency Board which was investigating nepotism and incompetence in the officer corps.

At the start of the Civil War Du Pont was appointed a senior member of the Commission of Conference to establish naval operations for the North. Du Pont was put in charge of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron and broke his flag on the U.S.S. Wabash. In November 1861, he led a successful campaign that captured Port Royal in South Carolina. Because of the success of this operation, Du Pont was promoted to newly created rank of Rear Admiral in July 1862. The Union remained in control of Port Royal which was the headquarters of Du Pont's blockading squadron. By late 1862 there was considerable tension building between Port Royal and Washington as pressure mounted for an attack on Charleston. The plan was to have the new ironclad monitors lead the assault. In 1863 Du Pont's fleet of ironclads were unsuccessful at taking Charleston. The plan was to have the new ironclad monitors lead the assault. In 1863 du Pont's fleet of ironclads were unsuccessful at taking Charleston. This defeat, in one of the most highly publicized naval battles of the Civil War, was a tremendous blow to the Union. Blame was placed on Du Pont, who was immediately relieved of his command.

Upon his return to Washington, Du Pont was ostracized. During the summer of 1863 he exchanged a series of barbed letters with Secretary Gideon Welles (1802-1878) and enlisted Henry Winter Davis (1817-1865), the acknowledged leader of the congressional opposition, to serve as his spokesman on Capitol Hill. When the Navy refused to publish Du Pont's report on the Charleston attack, Davis thought that it would be politically advantageous to criticize the administration over this issue. He secured a joint congressional resolution calling upon the Navy Department to produce all of Du Pont's reports and correspondence. When Welles did so, the tables were turned. Charged with misusing the monitors at Charleston and misleading his superiors, Du Pont was virtually put on trial before Congress. After the congressional hearing, Du Pont appealed to Abraham Lincoln for vindication. When the president refused to meet with him, he retired to his home at Louviers. In March 1865 he returned to Washington to serve on a board that was set up to recommend distinguished naval officers for promotion.

Du Pont married Sophie Madeleine du Pont (1810-1888), the youngest daughter of Eleuthère Irénée and Sophie Dalmas du Pont, in 1833. They established a household at Louviers across the Brandywine River from Eleutherian Mills. They never had children. Du Pont died on June 23, 1865, while on a trip to Philadelphia.

Scope and Contents

Miscellaneous material related to Samuel Francis du Pont (1803-1865). Items include testimonial from the Union League of Philadelphia, transmitting a silver medal (not included) in respect and appreciation of his gallantry and distinguished service, and granting membership privileges; receipt for six months subscription to the Daily Chronicle from Philadelphia; six empty envelopes with various notes about contents; small note in Sophie M. du Pont's (1810-1888) handwriting: "contains Frank's purse, ornaments of epaulets he had worn;" and clipping of a poem.

Access Restrictions

No restrictions on access; this collection is open for research.

Related Materials

Samuel Francis du Pont papers (Accession WMSS:IX), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

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Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Samuel Francis Du Pont miscellany
John Beverly Riggs
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Revision Statements

  • 2021: Ashley Williams

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA