skip to searchskip to content
Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours papers
print eadcite thisAsk Hagley
Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours papers

Accession LMSS:I

Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library

PO Box 3630
Wilmington, Delaware, 19807

Finding aid prepared by John Beverley Riggs, 1961, 1769-1831

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2013-04-19T12:24-0400

Finding aid prepared using best local practices and Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Cite items for this collection in the following format:
[Description and dates], Box/folder number, Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours papers (Accession LMSS:I), Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807


Descriptive Summary

Title: Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours papers
Dates: 1769-1831
Accession Number: LMSS:I
Creator: du Pont de Nemours, Pierre Samuel, 1739-1817.
Extent: 1.5 linear feet
Language of Material: French, English
Repository: Hagley Museum and Library: Manuscripts and Archives Department
Abstract: Pierre Samuel du Pont (1739-1817) was a noted French Physiocrat and economic advisor to Jacques Necker and King Louis XXVI. In the aftermath of the French Revolution he and his family emigrated to the United States where his son Eleuthère Irénée du Pont established the gun powder manufacturer E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company. The collection consists primarily of correspondence and special papers documenting his service during the Necker ministry and the establishment of the DuPont Company. Also included are the papers of his second wife Françoise Poivre (1748-1841).

Administrative Information


Gift of Pierre S. du Pont (1870-1954)

The main body of papers descended through Henry Algernon du Pont to Henry Francis du Pont.


Biographical Note

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, and in 1767 coined the term Physiocracy, which means the rule of nature, to describe the complex doctrine of François Quesnay, 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, and in the early 1780s he was involved in the negotiations which led to the Anglo-French Commercial Treaty of 1786. In 1786 he was appointed Counseiller d'Etat by Louis XVI, and the next year he served as secretary of the first Assemblée des Notables convened at Versailles. He also served as a member of the Assemblée Nationale Constituante (1789-1791), where he allied himself with the moderate Girondist faction. After Robespierre took power, 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. 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 and Eleuthère Irénée, 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. 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 in Delaware on August 7, 1817.


Scope and Content

The collection consists of Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours correspondence and writings in addition to correspondence of his second wife, Françoise (Robin) Poivre.


Access Points

Banks and banking.
Bidermann, Jacques Antoine, 1751-1817.
Bureaux de Pusy, J. X. (Jean Xavier), 1750-1805.
Cuvier, Georges, 1769-1832.
Du Planty, Raphael Defrédot, 1776-1854.
Du Pont de Nemours, Françoise Robin Poivre, 1748-1841.
Du Pont de Nemours, Père et Fils & Cie.
Du Pont, Eleuthère Irénée, 1771-1834.
Du Pont, Joséphine, 1770-1837.
Du Pont, Sophie (Dalmas), 1775-1828.
Du Pont, Victor, 1767-1827.
E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company.
Faulcon, Félix Marie, 1758-1843.
France--Economic conditions--18th century.
France--History--Revolution, 1789-1799.
France--Politics and government--1774-1793.
France--Politics and government--1789-1815.
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
Frochot, Nicholas-Thérèse-Benoît, 1761-1828.
Gunpowder industry.
Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826.
Land speculation--Kentucky.
Lavoisier, Antoine Laurent, 1743-1794.
Monroe, James, 1758-1831.
Moustier, Eléonore-François-Elie, 1751-1817.
Necker, Jacques, 1732-1804.
Patterson, Robert M. (Robert Maskell), 1787-1854.
Slaves--New York (State)--19th century.
Steamboats--19th century.

Series Descriptions and Inventory

I. Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours Correspondence, 1780-1817, undated
480 items
Scope and Content
This series primarily consists of letters from Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours to his son, Eleuthère. They document Victor du Pont's financial failure, du Pont de Nemours' services in various French governmental posts, difficulties with powder company shareholders, Bonaparte's animosity, publication of the Turgot papers, and financial troubles with Mme. Bureaux de Pusy. Letters addressed to Mme. Lavoisier refer to her mortgage on Bois-desfosses, the death of her estranged second husband, Count Rumford, and contemporary French politics and society. Letters to son, Victor, mention Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours' writings for Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Comte de Moustier. Other corresponence refers to Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours print shop in Paris, his relationship with Lavoisier, his return to Paris in 1795, his desire to resume political activity, the evolution of the firm of Du Pont de Nemours, Père et Fils & Cie., and the du Pont de Nemours family's arrival in America.
A. Outgoing correspondence
1 Outgoing correspondence, 1780-1802
2 Alcine [peudonym], “très belle Alcine”, 1816
2 Louis Arcambal, undated; 2 items
2 Ruth (Baldwin) Barlow (Mrs. Joel Barlow), 1815
2 Jacques Antoine Bidermann, 1810-1814; 10 items
2 François Antoine, Comte de Boissy d'Anglas, 1807
2 Monsieu Boucher, 1780
2 Jean Xavier Bureaux de Pusy, 1799
2 [Jean Baptiste Charles?] Chabroud, 1805
2 Louis Emmanuel, Comte Corvetto, undated
2 Georges, Baron Cuvier, circa 1816-1817
2 Sophie (Gentil) Dalmas, 1791
2 Denis, Duc Decrès, 1803
2 Antoine, Baron Desmousseaux, 1800-1801; 2 items
2 Firmin Didot, 1806
2 Raphael Du Planty, 1808
2 Eleuthère Irénée du Pont, 1782-1816, undated; 356 items
2 Eleuthère Irénée du Pont and Victor du Pont, 1793-1813; 12 items
2 Josephine (de la Fite de Pelleport) du Pont and Sophie (Dalmas) du Pont, 1815; 8 items
2 Sophie Madeleine (Dalmas) du Pont (Madame E.I. du Pont), 1792-1815; 11 items
2 Sophie (Dalmas) du Pont and Madame Victor du Pont, 1815; 8 items
2 Victor du Pont, 1790-1808; 6 items
2 Victorine E. du Pont (later Madame Ferdinand Bauduy), 1794; 2 items
2 Adrien Cyprien Duquesnoy, 1805
2 Pierre Fourcault de Pavant, 1805, 1807
2 Nicolas Thérèse Benoît, Comte Frochot, 1809
2 Anthony Girard, 1809
2 Gabriel Antoine Joseph Hécart, 1796
2 Thomas Jefferson, 1802-1810; 3 items
2 Jean Johannot, 1817
2 Jean Pierre Jacques Auguste de Labouisse-Rochefort, 1814
2 Andre Daniel Laffon de Ladebat, 1804
2 Louis Marie de La Revellière-Lépeaux, 1797
2 Marie Anne Pierrette (Paulze) Lavoisier (Madame Antoine Laurent Lavoisier), 1799, 1807, 1812, 1814-1816; 6 items
2 Monsieur Lesourd, 1808
2 James Monroe, 1816
2 Claude Philippe Edouard, Baron Mounier, 1814
2 Dr.Robert Maskell Patterson, 1816
2 Jean Baptiste Rewbell, 1797; 2 items
B. Incoming Correspondence, 1769-1818, undated
3 Jacques Antoine Bidermann, 1807
3 A. & J. Bousquet, 1801
3 Jean Antoine Chaptal, French Minister of the Interior, 1802
3 Du Planty, 1806
3 Thomas Jefferson, 1802
3 P. N. Lafourcade, 1817
3 Madame Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (née Paulze), 1815 June 18
3 Waldemar Mentelle with an enclosure of a Kentucky land tract map, 1801
3 André Sabatier, 1817
II. Special Papers and Writings, 1793-1816
Scope and Content
This series describes the evolution of the Du Pont firms from Du Pont de Nemours, Père et Fils & Cie. to E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, including the family's early plans to establish a business in America; agreements; lists of stockholders; prospectuses; technical notes on the manufacture of gunpowder; and a notice on the departure of the family to America in 1799. Also included are Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours' writings on steamboats, banking, agriculture and manufacturing, and two memoirs by Benjamin Franklin in French on the origins and prospects of the American Revolution.
A. Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours' Writings
3 “Sur les steam-boats et le steamfrégate” - Writings by Du Pont de Nemours, 1815; 7 pp.; copy
3 “De la crampe” with signature of Du Pont de Nemours, 1815; 8 pp.; copy
3 “Observations sommaires sur l'utilite des encouragemens a donner aux manufactures américaines”, 1816; 3 pp.
3 “Des Banques en general et des Banques américaines en particulier” - partly in hand of Du Pont de Nemours, undated; 31 pp.; copy
3 “De l'intérêt de la nation relativement à la fabrication de la Poudre à tirer”, undated; 2 pp.
3 "," undated; 4 pp.; copy
3 Note on the cultivation of fuller's teasel, undated; 4 pp.
3 Limerick, undated; 1 page
3 Memoir/Note beginning, “Dieu est le centre de toute animation”, undated; 2 pp.
B. Documents and other items
3 Scrapbook, "Poudres et Salpêtres 1793, documents et manuscrits,"
3 “Mémoire...du Citoyen Michau” - architect's renovation of the du Pont print shop and apartment at the Nouvelles Catholiques, Paris, 1793 onward; 37 pp.
3 List of writings of Du Pont de Nemours in the hand of E.I. du Pont, circa 1795
3 "," 1796
3 "Extrait d’un plan d'une operation rurale et commerciale a executer dans les Etats-Unis de l'Amérique" and related items tracing its development into Du Pont de Nemours, Père et Fils & Cie, including lists of stockholders, agreements, prospectus, loan to Victor du Pont de Nemours & Co., and receipt from Edme Regnier for éprouvettes, 1797-1803
3 Notice by Felix Faulcon to the Publiciste on departure of Du Pont de Nemours for America, 1799
3 Power of attorney of the Duc de Crillon to Du Pont de Nemours, 1800
3 Deed to Kentucky land sold by du Pont de Nemours to Victor du Pont for $48,000 for 56,000 acres in Fayette County, 1802
3 Business card, “du Pont de Nemours, Father Sons & Co., Merchants, New York”
3 Article on recent explosions in French powder mills, circa 1802
3 Negotiable bank stock certificates of the Banque Territoriale, signed by du Pont de Nemours and Laffon de Ladebat, 1803
3 Agreements and accounts for Charles François Parent, powder foreman hired for E.I. du Pont, 1803
3 Offer, drafted by du Pont de Nemours to sell powder to the King of Spain, 1806
3 The bankruptcy of Victor du Pont in New York, 1807
3 Agreements between du Pont de Nemours and Menestrier for payment of the Talleyrand loan, 1807
3 Report to stockholders of Du Pont de Nemours, Père et Fils & Cie, and renewal of its interest in E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., 1808
3 Decree of the French Provisional Government naming the Moniteur its official newspaper, signed by du Pont de Nemours as Secretary-General and authorizing appointment of François Sauvo as editor, 1814; copy
3 “Faits et observations” on accounts between Du Pont de Nemours, Père et Fils & Cie. and E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., 1815
3 Floor plan proposed by Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours for his own house on the Brandywine at Eleutherian Mills, in Delaware, undated
3 Order authorizing Claude Philippe Edouard, Baron Mounier (Intendant des Bàtiments de la Couronne), to inventory the silver, porcelain, etc., at the Tuileries, both issued by Du Pont de Nemours as secretary of the Gouvernement Provisoire, 1814 April 10
C. Writings by Others
3 Two memoirs by Benjamin Franklin, "Observations sur l’origine de la guerre civile des colonies américaines",(variant text published in Affaires de l'Angleterre et de l’Amérique [Paris, 1776-79, 15 vols.], VII, No. 36[1778], 322), and "Moyens pour d'un grand empire en faire un petit" (variant text published in Affaires de l'Angleterre et de l’Amérique, IX, No. 38 [1778], 1769; 33 pp.; copies
3 "," undated; 20 pp.
3 “Les Mannequins, conte ou histoire, comme l’on voudra"” [attributed to the Comte de Provence, later Louis XVIII], circa 1776-1777; 22 pp.; copy
3 "Observations sur la différence de la mouture des grains, faite par des moulins méchaniques ou par ceux que les elemens font mouvoir," undated; 8 pp.
III. Françoise (Robin) Poivre - Outgoing correspondence, 1791-1818
Scope and Content
This series is composed of, with the exception of a small memorandum, eight letters written chiefly to her stepchildren and granddaughters Victorine and Evelina in the United States. Of particular interest are the death of Ferdinand Bauduy (1814), the death of her own husband (1817), and her concern for her stepchildren after the explosion at the powder mills in 1818.
4 Victorine (du Pont) Bauduy, 1817
4 Mme. Baronne Antoine Desmousseaux, 1805
4 Eleuthère Irénée du Pont, 1810-1831; 4 items
4 Gabrielle Josephine (de La Fite de Pelleport) du Pont (Madame Victor du Pont), 1797, 1805; 2 items
4 Sophie Madeleine (Dalmas) du Pont (Madame Eleuthère Irénée du Pont), 1809-1818; 5 items
4 P. S. du Pont de Nemours, 1817; 8 items
4 Letter to Dr. Jacques Louis Moreau de la Sarthe, librarian at the Faculté de Médacine, 1815
4 Scrapbook, “Poudres et Salpetres 1793 Documents et Manuscrits”; scrapbook
4 Indenture for the services of two slaves owned by Paul Mersereau of Staten Island, N.Y., and their subsequent assignment to E.I. du Pont, 1800 June, 1802
4 Memoranda on the disposal of certain furniture to E.I. du Pont, circa 1802