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Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours letters to Carl Fredrik, Comte de Scheffer, of Sweden (microfilm)

Creation: 1775-1782
Accession: 0345


Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours was a French political economist, writer, publisher, and public administrator (1739-1817). The letters to Carl Fredrik, Comte de Scheffer, of Sweden (1715-1786), were part of a series to supply news from Paris, intended for Gustavus III, King of Sweden. Subjects include reviews of literary works, comments on political subjects, freedom of the press, du Pont accepting a Swedish knighthood, and biography of M. Turgot.


  • Creation: 1775-1782



3 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.

Scope and Contents

Microfilm of letters from Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours (1739-1817) to Carl Fredrik, Comte de Scheffer, of Sweden (1715-1786), being part of a series projected by du Pont to supply news from Paris, in which appear reviews of literary works by Baudeau, Chastellux, Laharpe, Necker, and Voltaire, and comments on political subjects, all intended for Gustavus III, King of Sweden. Also included are three letters of Comte de Scheffer to the King on freedom of the press, on consent of the King of France to du Pont de Nemours' acceptance of the Royal Order of Vasa conferring a Swedish knighthood, and on du Pont de Nemours' biography of French statesman and economist Turgot (Memories sur la vie et les ouvrages de M. Turgot).

Location of Originals

Originals in Universitetsbiblioteket (Mss. F 515 [Gustavus III], H260 [Rosenhams Samlingen]), Uppsala, Sweden.

Access Restrictions

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

Related Materials

Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours letters to Carl Fredrik, Comte de Scheffer, of Sweden (microfilm and photocopies) (Accession 0335), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Language of Materials


Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours letters to Carl Fredrik, Comte de Scheffer, of Sweden (microfilm)
John Beverly Riggs
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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