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Francis Gurney du Pont letterbooks, with additional miscellany

1780-1937
 Collection
Accession: 1462

Abstract

Francis Gurney du Pont (1850-1904) was the youngest son of Alexis I. du Pont (1816-1857) and Joanna Smith du Pont (1815-1876), and grandson of Éleuthère Irénée "E.I." du Pont (1771-1834), founder of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, a chemical company more commonly referred to as the DuPont Company. The collection contains two letter books of du Pont to F.G. Thomas (-1901) of the Iowa Powder Mills, photocopies of selected documents by Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) on gunpowder, and on awards to John Paul Jones (1747-1792) for his victory over HMS Serapis, and letter from Samuel Courtauld (1752-1821) to Captain Joseph H. Rees (1789-1821).

Dates

  • 1780-1937

Creator

Extent

1 Linear Foot

Biographical Note

Francis Gurney du Pont (1850-1904) was the youngest son of Alexis I. du Pont (1816-1857) and Joanna Smith du Pont (1815-1876), and grandson of Éleuthère Irénée "E.I." du Pont (1771-1834), founder of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, a chemical company more commonly referred to as the DuPont Company.

Du Pont graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1870. The following year, he began his career with E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. as an operator of graining mills. In 1874, he became a junior partner of the firm and later served in the highly important capacity of general manager, and as vice president, until 1902. That year, even with the death of Eugene du Pont (1840-1902), du Pont declined the presidency of the firm due to ill health. He wanted to sell the company to competitor Laflin & Rand. He mistrusted the modern business practices that he believed the younger generation would implement at the DuPont Company. He lost control of the company to cousins Alfred I. du Pont (1864-1935), T. Coleman du Pont (1863-1930), and Pierre S. du Pont (1870-1954).

In 1888, du Pont supervised the building of the blasting powder mills at Mooar, Iowa. At Carney's Point, New Jersey, he superintended the plant which produced smokeless powder. In 1893, he and Pierre S. du Pont patented their solvent recovery process for the manufacture of smokeless shotgun powder.

Aside from his abilities as a chemist, du Pont was interested in astronomy and in the improvement of telescopes.

In 1871, du Pont married Elise Wigfall Simons (1849-1919). The couple had ten children. Du Pont died November 7, 1904, in Wilmington, Delaware.

Scope and Contents

The collection contains two letter books of Francis G. du Pont (1850-1904) to F.G. Thomas (-1901) of the Iowa Powder Mills, photocopies of selected documents by Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) on gunpowder, and on awards to John Paul Jones (1747-1792) for his victory over HMS Serapis, and letter from Samuel Courtauld (1752-1821) to Captain Joseph H. Rees (1789-1821).

The letter books of du Pont, representing E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, to Thomas, superintendent of the blasting powder mills known as the Mooar Works being erected by DuPont near Keokuk, Iowa. The correspondence covers the building of the mills and their operation, including many details and specifications, with du Pont's instructions to Thomas, and includes site visits. The Mooar Works began operation in April 1890.

The photocopies of Franklin documents include Franklin to Samuel Huntington, president of Congress, July 10, 1780 (original in American Philosophical Society); Huntington to Franklin, March 2, 1781, both concerning Louis XVI decorating John Paul Jones with the Ordre de Merite Militaire for his actions at the Battle of Flamborough Head in 1779; John Paul Jones to Franklin, January 26, 1784; Franklin to Jones, July 22, 1787 (original in New York Public Library). Also typed copy of a letter from Brad Stephens in Boston to Franklin Bache Huntington in New York, November 30, 1937, regarding Franklin's use of electricity in firing gunpowder.

Samuel Courtauld was a member of the famous Huguenot family of London silk-spinners, resident as a merchant in the Philadelphia area. Here representing E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, he writes to Captain Joseph H. Rees, first commandant of the Frankford Arsenal, concerning a shipment of gunpowder.

Access Restrictions

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

Related Materials

Francis Gurney du Pont papers (Accession 504), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Language of Materials

English


Additional Information

Related Names

Creator

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
Francis Gurney du Pont letterbooks, with additional miscellany
Status:
Author:
John Beverly Riggs
Date:
1978
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
English
Script of description:
Latin

Revision Statements

  • 2021: Ashley Williams

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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