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Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours and Victor du Pont French documents (photocopies)

1798-1801
 Collection
Identifier: 0229

Abstract

Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours (1739-1817) was a French political economist, writer, publisher, and public administrator. Victor Marie du Pont (1767-1827), the son of Pierre Samuel, was a French diplomat who later immigrated to the United States and established various trading companies before moving to Delaware. This collection contains three photocopied documents in French: a memoir by du Pont de Nemours, letter of Eustache Briux to Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord, and a letter from Victor du Pont to Talleyrand.

Dates

  • 1798-1801

Creator

Extent

3 item(s)

Biographical Note

Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours (1739-1817) was a French political economist, writer, publisher, and public administrator.

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 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 regards to finances for the royal treasury between 1777 and 1789.

In the early 1780s, du Pont de Nemours was involved in the negotiations that led 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, 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 abolition of the monarchy, the creation of parliament, the introduction of a constitution, the separation of powers, and the establishment of a republic. The Girondins supported the end of the monarchy; however, they 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 de Nemours 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, Père et Fils & Cie. in New York.

Du Pont de Nemours and his wife, Françoise Robin de Poivre (1748-1841), returned to France in 1802, where he held various government posts under Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821). In 1814, he became a member of the provisional government that 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

Victor Marie du Pont (1767-1827), the son of Pierre Samuel, was a French diplomat who later immigrated to the United States and established various trading companies before moving to Delaware.

Victor du Pont was born in Paris on October 1, 1767. In the mid-1780s, he was employed at his father's office at the Bureau of Commerce in Paris. In 1788, he came to the United States as part of the French legation and assisted in negotiating a treaty between the State of New York and the five Indian Nations.

In 1791, du Pont was named aide-de-camp to General Lafayette, and the next year he was appointed secretary to the French legation in Philadelphia. In 1795, he became consul at Charleston, S.C. In 1800, in partnership with his father and brother Eleuthère Irénée du Pont, he established the trading company of Du Pont de Nemours, Père et Fils & Cie. This firm was dissolved in 1802 when E.I. du Pont organized his black powder manufacturing company. At that time, Victor du Pont became involved in supplying the French troops, which were attempting to suppress a slave insurrection in Santo Domingo.

In 1811, following the failure of the Victor du Pont de Nemours & Co trading company and unsuccessful farming and merchandising venture in western New York, he moved to Delaware and established residence a Louviers on the Brandywine. He established a mill to manufacture cotton cloth and, in 1813, became a partner in Du Planty, McCall & Co.

In 1820, he was elected to the Delaware state Senate, and six years later, he became a director of the Bank of the United States.

In 1794, du Pont married Gabrielle Josephine de la Fite de Pelleport (1770-1837) and had five children, four surviving to adulthood: Amelie Elizabeth (1796-1869), Charles Irenee (1797-1869), Samuel Francis (1803-1865), and Julia Sophie (1806-1882). Victor du Pont died in Philadelphia on January 30, 1827.

Scope and Contents

The Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours (1739-1917) and Victor du Pont (1767-1827) French documents are photocopies of three papers from the Archives du Ministere des Affaires Etrangeres in Paris. It includes a memoir by du Pont to the Directorie entitled "De notre interet relativement aux Etats-Unis de l'Amerique," relating to reconciliation of commercial relations with the United States, awareness of Russia's power and the chance of her joining Great Britain in closing the Baltic, and reasons why the Directoire should send a minister to the United States to negotiate a treaty, and proposed terms for such a treaty, with speculation on the results of such action. There is a letter of Eustache Briux, Ministre de la Marine et des Colonies, to Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord, Ministre des Relations Exterieures, concerning the capture of American privateers and imprisonment of their crews, and a reference to Victor du Pont (who expressed the attitude of agents of the American government), with references to the lifting of the embargo and orders for the port of Bordeaux to allow the departure of American passengers, and a desire to neutralize the "intentions perfides de John Adams." Lastly, there is a letter from Victor du Pont to Talleyrand upon arrival at Le Havre with dispatches for Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Periford from Philippe Joseph Letombe announcing the nomination of Thomas Jefferson and the triumph of the Republicans.

Location of Originals

Originals held by the Archives du Ministere des Affaires Estrangeres, Paris, France.

Access Restrictions

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

Use Restrictions

Not to be reproduced.

Language of Materials

French


Additional Information

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours and Victor du Pont French documents (photocopies)
Status:
Author:
John Beverly Riggs
Date:
1970
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