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du Pont de Nemours and de Pusy correspondence

Accession: 0035


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. Françoise (Robin) Poivre (1748-1841) was the second wife of Pierre Samuel. Françoise Julienne Ile de France (Poivre) Bureaux de Pusy (1770-1845) was a daughter from Poivre's first marriage. This collection includes a small selection of correspondence, including details on the family's immigration to the United States from France and Bureaux de Pusy's financial problems.


  • 1799-1813



32 item(s)

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 recognized as the first modern school of economics.

In July 1774, the family departed for Poland, where du Pont 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 regards to finanaces for the royal treasury between 1777 and 1789.

In the early 1780s du Pont de Nemours was involved in the negotiations which led to the Anglo-French Commercial Treaty of 1786. The treaty reduced tariffs on goods between France and Britian. In 1786 he was appointed Counseiller d'Etat by King Louis XVI, in this position he acted as a government official of adminstrative law. The following year he served as secretary of the first Assemblée des Notables convened 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 abolotion 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, were not for the revolution and most 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 he was chosen as a member of the Counseil des Anciens (Council of Elders), which was 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.

Biographical Note

Françoise Robin du Pont (1748-1841) was the second wife of Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours (1739-1817).

Françoise Robin was a daughter of Antoine Robin de Livet (1705-1772) of Lyon. Her first husband, Pierre Poivre (1719-1786), was a naturalist and author. They lived for a time on the Ile de France and returned to France in 1773. There were two daughters by this marriage: Marie Marguerite Sara (d. 1814) and Françoise Julienne (1770-1845) who married Jean Xavier Bureaux Pusy (1750-1806).

Françoise married second, Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours (1739-1817) at Chevannes in 1795; she was his second wife. She and her son-in-law, Jean Xavier Bureaux de Pusy, sailed from Rotterdam in 1799 to find and establish a home in the United States for the remainder of the family, who joined them several months later. She selected a property in Bergen Point, New Jersey, which the family called "Goodstay."

Poivre and du Pont de Nemours returned to France in 1802. When her husband went back to the United States in 1815, she remained in France due to a hip injury. She was preparing to return when she received word of her husband's death. After his death, she maintained correspondence with the du Pont family until her death in Paris in 1841.

Biographical Note

Françoise Julienne Ile de France Poivre (1770-1845) was the daughter of Pierre Poivre (1719-1786) and Françoise Robin (1749-1841). Her father was a horticulturalist and botanist, and a missionary to East Asia. In 1792, she married Jean Xavier Bureaux de Pusy (1750-1806). Bureaux de Pusy was a military engineer and politician, including serving in the Estates General of 1789. The couple had Françoise Joséphine Bureaux de Pusy (1792-1871) and Maurice Bureaux de Pusy (1799-1864).

After five years in Austrian captivity, Jean Xavier Bureaux de Pusy was released and du Pont de Nemours made Bureaux de Pusy an officer and stockholder in his new American company, Du Pont de Nemours, Pére et Fils & Compagnie. The Bureaux de Pusy family arrived in America early in 1800 and shared a household in New Jersey with Du Pont de Nemours’s family before returning in 1802 to France, where the husband accepted an appointment under Napoleon.

After she was widowed in 1806, Madame Bureaux de Pusy’s worsening financial situation and the bankruptcy of du Pont’s company prompted her to return to America in 1811 seeking to liquidate her remaining shares in the surviving DuPont enterprise. She settled in Philadelphia by 1813 and placed her children in school there. Family misunderstandings regarding the company’s solvency led to bitterness between Madame Bureaux de Pusy and her du Pont stepbrothers. She attempted to end her role in the company, went back to France in 1814, and filed suit against du Pont de Nemours in Delaware in 1818. Madame Bureaux de Pusy agreed to arbitration in 1822 to settle multiple suits, but the entire matter was not settled until 1826, with the assistance of Lafayette.

Scope and Contents

Correspondence between Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours (1739-1817) and his second wife, Françoise (Robin) Poivre du Pont (1748-1841), and Francoise with her daughter, Françoise Julienne Ile de France (Poivre) Bureaux de Pusy (1770-1845).

Letters between husband and wife contain details about the emigration of the family from France to the United States. There are twenty-five letters between the Françoises. The letters include details of the daughter's financial problems, trip to the United States in 1812, and family news. These letters help to clarify the position of Bureaux de Pusy in her dispute with E.I. du Pont (1771-1834) regarding her shares in the powder company of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.

Access Restrictions

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

Language of Materials


Additional Information

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

du Pont de Nemours and de Pusy correspondence
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