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Samuel Francis du Pont papers

Accession WMSS:IX:A-C

Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library

PO Box 3630
Wilmington, Delaware, 19807

Finding aid prepared by John Beverly Riggs, 1961,

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2013-06-14T14:21-0400

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, Samuel Francis du Pont papers (Accession WMSS:IX:A-C), Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807


Descriptive Summary

Title: Samuel Francis du Pont papers
Dates: 1812-1865
Accession Number: WMSS:IX:A-C
Creator: du Pont, Samuel Francis, 1803-1865
Extent: 15 linear feet
Language of Material: English
Repository: Hagley Museum and Library: Manuscripts and Archives Department
Abstract: Samuel Francis du Pont (1803-1865) was the fourth child and second surviving son of Victor Marie du Pont and his wife, Gabrielle Josephine de la Fite de Pelleport. His papers document du Pont's professional and personal life against the background of the pre-Civil War service.

Administrative Information


Gift of Henry Francis du Pont

The Samuel Francis du Pont Papers that are now at the Hagley Museum and Library were collected and for many years preserved by his wife Sophie at her home at Louviers. The controversy that followed the admiral's 1863 dismissal from the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron led Mrs. du Pont to guard these papers very closely while she continued to add to the collection and compile edited transcripts of her husband's letters, notes, and diaries.

During the 1870s and 1880s she also began to collect the papers of other members of her family, including those of du Pont de Nemours. When she died in 1888, her nephew, Colonel Henry A. du Pont, inherited this collection and moved it to his home at Winterthur, near Wilmington. The colonel had a keen interest in family history and continued to augment the archive. When he died in 1926, it passed on to his son, Henry Francis du Pont, whose main interest lay in the decorative arts and horticulture.

During these years, Pierre Samuel du Pont (1870-1954), the former president of the DuPont Company and General Motors, was organizing a library on his Longwood, Pennsylvania, estate in order to preserve his family's personal papers and rare books. Henry Francis, therefore, donated his Winterthur Manuscripts collection to the Longwood Library. In 1961 the Longwood Library merged with the Hagley Museum as the Eleutherian Mills Historical Library and moved to its present site in Greenville, Delaware.

At that time, the Winterthur Manuscripts were organized into ten groups, Group IX being the papers of Samuel Francis du Pont. Within each group, the papers have been arranged by series and given inventory numbers that are a combination of group and file numbers. These Winterthur numbers have been stamped on the individual documents and are usually referred to in published citations and footnotes.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may apply.


Biographical Note

Samuel Francis du Pont was born at Bergen Point (now Bayonne), New Jersey, on September 27, 1803. He was the fourth child and second surviving son of Victor Marie du Pont and his wife, Gabrielle Joséphine de la Fite de Pelleport. Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours, the famous French economist and diplomat, was his paternal grandfather. Du Pont de Nemours had been an adviser to Louis XVI during the last years of the monarchy, but during the revolution he had sided with the moderate Girondists. When Robespierre ascended to power, he was imprisoned and in 1799 made the decision to emigrate with his family to the United States. He planned to found a company for land and commercial development that would be managed by his two sons, Victor and Eluethere Irénée.

Du Pont de Nemours's friend and correspondent, Thomas Jefferson, recognizing that the new U.S. Army did not have a reliable source of quality gun powder, encouraged him to establish a black powder manufactory, which Jefferson believed in the long run would prove to be a wiser investment than a company devoted to land speculation. In 1802, Irénée purchased a tract of land along the Brandywine River just north of Wilmington, Delaware, to set up the family powder works. Victor, for his part, established a New York based importing firm and land company, Victor du Pont de Nemours & Co. By 1804 this business had gone bankrupt, and Victor moved to Delaware and entered into partnership with his brother to start a woolen-manufacturing business.

Samuel Francis du Pont spent his early years living at Louviers, across the river from his uncle's Eleutherian Mills estate. At the age of nine he was enrolled in the Mt. Airy Academy in Germantown, Pennsylvania. However, Victor's woolen mill was facing serious financial difficulties, and he was not in a position to underwrite his son's education. He, therefore, encouraged him to pursue a career in the Navy. Du Pont de Nemours sought Jefferson's help in securing a position for his grandson. With this influence, it was not surprising that on December 19, 1815, the twelve year old Samuel Francis received an appointment as midshipman. He continued studying at Mt. Airy until October 1817, when he set sail on the U.S.S. Franklin for his first cruise of the Mediterranean under the command of Commodore Charles Stewart. During three years at sea, he visited the Isle of Wight, Italy, and Algeria. Since the United States did not yet have a naval academy, du Pont, like most other novice midshipmen, received elementary training in mathematics and navigation on board ship. By the time of his second voyage aboard the U.S.S. Constitution (1821-22), he was an accomplished navigator.

du Pont's most important early cruise was aboard the U.S.S. North Carolina, which sailed from Hampton Roads in March 1825 with more than 1,000 officers and men. Although not yet a commissioned officer, he was appointed sailing master. The North Carolina's mission was to assert American power and prestige in the Mediterranean. On this voyage, du Pont served under Captain John Rodgers, who at the time was the Navy's senior officer. On this trip he befriended a fellow midshipman, Alexander Slidell MacKenzie, the younger brother of John Slidell, who in the 1840s was to serve as both a congressman and emissary to Mexico. During his service on the North Carolina, du Pont passed his examinations and was promoted to lieutenant. In the spring of 1827, after hearing of his father's death, he returned home to Wilmington, where he spent most of the next two years. In August 1829 he was assigned to the U.S.S. Ontario and set sail for Constantinople and the Eastern Mediterranean. Although only recently promoted to the officer ranks, du Pont believed that many of the senior officers under whom he served were incompetent and had achieved their positions only as a result of political influence. He began to criticize his superiors from this perspective, and this made him somewhat of an outsider in the officer corps.

When du Pont returned home in June 1833 from his voyage on the Ontario, he married his first cousin, Sophie Madeleine du Pont, the daughter of Irénée. In the years before the Mexican War, du Pont was given several assignments in the Gulf of Mexico and in Europe. These were the years in which the U.S. Navy was making the transition from sail to steam and becoming increasingly professionalized. du Pont, a vocal advocate of professionalization and discipline, achieved increased recognition during this period. On January 10, 1843, he was promoted to the rank of commander. Later that year he set sail for China aboard the Perry, but early in 1844 he took seriously ill and had to return to Delaware, where remained for more than a year. Fully recovered by October 1845, du Pont was assigned to Commodore Robert F. Stockton's Pacific squadron and assumed commander of the frigate Congress. When the Mexican War began, the squadron was ordered to California, and du Pont was given command of the Cyane, a two-gun sloop of war. He transported General John C. Frémont's battalion to San Diego and then proceeded on to La Paz and Monterey. En route, he captured nearly thirty Mexican ships. During the last eighteen months of war, du Pont was put in charge of the California blockade.

After the Mexican War, du Pont began a decade-long tour of shore duty. During these years he played an important role in the modernization of the Navy. In 1849, Secretary of the navy George Bancroft asked him to help draw up a curriculum for the naval academy at Annapolis, Maryland. In early August 1850, du Pont was appointed superintendent of the Naval Academy; however, within four weeks, he asked to be relieved of this assignment, which he thought was more appropriate for an officer who was closer to retirement age. He did maintain a close association with the Naval Academy for the rest of his life and frequently served on the school's board of examiners. Since the Navy was moving into the age of steam, he believed that it was particularly important that midshipmen be given training in both engineering and mathematics and that this be balanced with experience at sea. In 1851, du Pont was asked to analyze the impact that steam power was likely to have on America's defense and its existing system of coastal fortifications. In six months he produced a twenty-eight page Report on the National Defenses, in which e articulated a strategy for modern naval warfare. In this document, du Pont pointed out that the Navy was better suited to play an offensive, rather than a defensive, role and that the existing system of coastal fortifications could be relied on to defend the nation's harbors and should not be dismantled. Following this line of reasoning, he argued that the navy would be a much more efficient fighting force if it were relieved from harbor defense. With California now part of the United States, du Pont emphasized the importance of the Sandwich Islands to the defense of the Pacific coast. He concluded his analysis by making a strong case for a bigger and more powerful service. After this report was submitted to Secretary Bancroft, du Pont discovered that he had been appointed to the Light-House Board. Once in this post, he began to argue that the national lighthouse system was extremely antiquated and needed to be upgraded, if it were to play a role in America's defense. He was gratified when Congress finally passed a lighthouse bill that incorporated many of his recommendations.

In February 1853, du Pont became general superintendent of the Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations, known as the Crystal Palace, in New York. This exhibition, the country's first World's Fair, was motivated by national pride and the belief that industrial America had come of age; it was time for the world to be introduced to the nation's technology and manufactures. However, even though the exhibition drew international praise, visitation was disappointing. Floundering in a sea of red ink, du Pont resigned his superintendency on November 1.

At this time du Pont was given the opportunity to address the question of naval reform. During the middle decades of the nineteenth century, the U.S. Navy was facing some very serious problems that stemmed from entrenched nepotism and a system of officer promotion based more on political favoritism than on merit. Problems of alcoholism, officer education, and career uncertainty were making it extremely difficult to develop an officer corps with a sense of professionalism. The situation became increasingly critical as the age of steam was beginning to put a premium on the kind of competence and technological expertise that was sorely lacking in the old” Navy.

In February 1855, Congress passed an act to Promote the Efficiency of the Navy.” Its object was to professionalize the service by forcing incompetent officers into retirement and promoting young, talented midshipmen. Secretary James Dobbin asked du Pont to draft a report supporting the legislation, which he did with considerable enthusiasm. Throughout most of his career, du Pont had been very critical of many of his superior officers, and he saw that the Navy now had an opportunity to reform itself by installing a merit system of promotion. In June he was appointed to the Naval Efficiency Board, where he became a leading advocate for reform. In five months of deliberations, the board reviewed the careers of 712 officers and recommended that 201 be dismissed. This led to an acrimonious debate as the officers in question called on key congressmen to come to their defense. du Pont, one of the leading supporters of the board's actions, found himself the object of ferocious criticism. In the summer of 1856, Congress amended the original Naval Efficiency Bill in order to give affected officers the opportunity to defend themselves before a court of inquiry. This led to the review of 108 dismissals. A majority of them was reversed.

In September 1855, du Pont was promoted to the rank of captain, and in early 1857 he was given command of the new steam frigate Minnesota. His first assignment was to take William Reed, U.S. Minister to China, to his new post in Peiping. Reed had been instructed to negotiate for additional treaty ports and for a broadened interpretation of the principle of extraterritoriality. This was a powerful tool for opening up China commercially, since it made foreign merchants and missionaries immune to Chinese law. On April 26, 1858, the Minnesota jointed a contingent of seventeen Western warships in a show of force at the mouth of the Peiho River. When the Chinese refused to make any concessions, a fleet of British and French gunboats opened fire on their coastal fortifications, forcing them to sign a treaty that was satisfactory to the Western powers. On August 15 the Minnesota departed for Nagasaki and then proceeded on the Bengal, Ceylon, and Bombay. It docked in Boston on May 29, 1859.

du Pont returned to Wilmington where he remained until March 22, 1860. When the Japanese sent their first ambassador to the United States, he was asked to serve as an official escort. Together with two fellow officers, Commander Sidney Smith Lee and Lieutenant David Dixon Porter, he accompanied the ambassador's party on a three-month visit to Washington, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. This trip proved to be a major watershed in Japanese-American relations and helped open up Japan to U.S. trade and investment. After this assignment was completed, du Pont was appointed commandant of the Philadelphia Navy Yard, and he assumed that he would end his career in this position. However, with the outbreak of the Civil War, he was recalled to active duty and promoted to flag officer.

The war began with the April 12, 1861, bombardment of Fort Sumter, off Charleston, South Carolina. After Sumter fell to the Confederate army, Secretary Gideon Welles appointed a board to discuss strategy for a Southern blockade. Since du Pont had had experience in blockading the California coast during the Mexican War, he was appointed senior member of the board that devised a plan for joint landsea operations to attack the South Atlantic coast. On August 5, Welles gave the order to proceed. du Pont was put in charge of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron and broke his flag on the U.S.S. Wabash. The first engagement took place at Port Royal, South Carolina, where a Union armada of steam-powered warships coordinated an attach with General Thomas W. Sherman's army capturing Forts Walker and Beauregard. Once these fortifications fell, the rich Sea Islands were occupied by Northern forces. Because of the success of this operation, du Pont was promoted to rear admiral in July 1862. However, before the Union could fully exploit this victory, General Robert E. Lee assumed command of the Southern coastline and constructed a system of elaborate fortifications that would stop all inland advances for the remainder of the war.

The Union remained in control of Port Royal. This forced many landowners to emigrate from the area, leaving behind their plantations and slaves. The region soon teemed with Northern missionaries and teachers who came to work with the black population. Under the protection of the Union armed forces, they attempted to carry out an ambitious program of economic and social reforms. Since Port Royal was the headquarters of du Pont's blockading squadron, the admiral became increasingly involved in what historian Willie Lee Rose has called a rehearsal for Reconstruction.”

As the war dragged on, British blockade-runners became increasingly bold and began to penetrate the Southern coastline with disturbing frequency. As John D. Hayes has pointed out, du Pont was concerned about provoking intervention by the Royal Navy and kept the blockade loose and legal. However, every time a blockaderunner was successful, the union command was embarrassed and Admiral du Pont was subjected to severe criticism. By late 1862 there was considerable tension building between Port Royal and Washington as pressure mounted for an attach on Charleston. The plan was to have the new ironclad monitors lead the assault. du Pont had serious reservations about this strategy, but for political reasons he was reluctant to discuss candidly his doubts about the monitors' mobility and reliability with Welles. Instead, he attempted to delay the attack as long as possible. This only irritated his superiors, who began to question his fitness for command. The assault on Charleston began on April 7, 1863. Within a week it had become clear that the monitors had been repulsed. This defeat, in one of the most highly publicized naval battles of the Civil War, was a tremendous blow to the Union. Wells blamed it on du Pont, who was immediately relieved of his command.

Upon his return to Washington, du Pont was ostracized. During the summer of 1863 he exchanged a series of barbed letters with Welles and enlisted Henry Winter Davis, the acknowledged leader of the congressional opposition, to serve as his spokesman on Capitol Hill. When the Navy refused to publish du Pont's report on the Charleston attack, Davis thought that it would be politically advantageous to criticize the administration over this issue. He secured a joint congressional resolution calling upon the Navy Department to produce all of du Pont's reports and correspondence. When Welles did so, the tables were turned. Charged with misusing the monitors at Charleston and misleading his superiors, du Pont was virtually put on trial before Congress. After the congressional hearing, du Pont appealed to Abraham Lincoln for vindication. When the president refused to met with him, he retired to his home at Louviers. In March 1865 he returned to Washington to serve on a board that was set up to recommend distinguished naval officers for promotion. On June 23, 1865, while on a visit to Philadelphia with his wife, he died.


Scope and Content

Admiral Samuel Francis du Pont's papers provide important documentation on the history of the nineteenth-century Navy as it experienced the transition from sail to steam and from wood to iron. The collection, which is divided into three series, documents du Pont's professional and personal lives against the background of the pre-Civil War service.


Access Points

Adams, Charles Francis, 1807-1886.
Adams, John Quincy, 1767-1848.
Armored vessels.
Astor, John Jacob, 1822-1890.
Bache, A. D. (Alexander Dallas), 1806-1867.
Bancroft, George, 1800-1891.
Barron, Samuel, 1809-1888.
Belmont, August, 1816-1890.
Biddle, James Stokes, b. 1818.
Blair, Montgomery, 1813-1883.
Blake, George S., 1803-1871.
Breck, Samuel, 1771-1862.
Buchanan, James, 1791-1868.
Butler, Benjamin F. (Benjamin Franklin), 1818-1893.
Cass, Lewis, 1782-1866.
China--Foreign relations--1644-1912.
China--History--Foreign intervention, 1857-1861.
Christ Church Christiana Hundred (Greenville, Del.).
Clayton, John M. (John Middleton), 1796-1856.
Congress (Frigate).
Cyane (Sloop-of-war).
Dahlgren, John Adolphus Bernard, 1809-1870.
Dallas, Alexander J. (Alexander James), 1791-1844.
Davis, Charles Henry, 1807-1877.
Davis, Henry Winter, 1817-1865.
Davis, Jefferson, 1808-1889.
Decorative Arts--United States--Chinese influences.
Dobbin, James C. (James Cochran), 1814-1857.
Drayton, Percival, 1812-1865.
E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company.
Farragut, David Glasgow, 1801-1870.
Fessenden, William Pitt, 1806-1869.
Fillmore, Millard, 1800-1874.
Foote, Andrew H. (Andrew Hull), 1806-1863.
Forbes, R. B. (Robert Bennet), 1804-1889.
Fox, Gustavus Vasa, 1821-1883.
Franklin (Ship-of-the-line).
Frémont, John Charles, 1813-1890.
Gansevort, Guert, 1812-1867.
Godon, Sylvanus W. (Sylvanus William), 1809-1879.
Grimes, James W. (James Wilson), 1816-1872.
Halleck, H. W. (Henry Wager), 1815-1872.
Hunter, David, 1802-1886.
Isherwood, B. F. (Benjamin Franklin), 1822-1915.
Istanbul (Turkey)--Description--19th century.
Italy--Description and travel.
Japan--History--19th century.
Jenkins, Thornton A. (Thornton Alexander), 1811-1893.
Jones, Thomas Ap Catesby, 1790-1858.
Kane, Elias Kent, 1794-1835.
Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857.
Kane, John K. (John Kintzing), 1795-1858.
Kearny, Stephen Watts, 1794-1848.
Lenthall, John, 1807-1882.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.
Mackenzie, Alexander Slidell, 1803-1848.
Magruder, George A.
Marine engineering.
Maury, Matthew Fontaine, 1806-1873.
Maury, Matthew, 1800-1877.
Melville, Herman, 1819-1891.
Mexican War, 1846-1848.
Minnesota (Frigate).
Monterey, Battle of 1846.
Naval art and science.
Navy-yards and naval stations--United States.
New York Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations (1853-1854).
North Carolina (Ship-of-the-line).
Ohio (Ship-of-the-line).
Parrott, Enoch G. (Enoch Greenleafe), 1815-1879.
Pendergrast, Garrett J. (Garrett Jesse), 1802-1862.
Perry, Matthew Calbraith, 1794-1858.
Philadelphia (Pa.)--Social life and customs.
Pierce, Franklin, 1804-1869.
Port Royal (S.C.) Expedition, 1861.
Porter, David D. (David Dixon), 1813-1891.
Price, Rodman M. (Rodman McCamley), 1816-1894.
Reed, William B. (William Bradford), 1806-1876.
Reynolds, William, 1815-1879.
Rodgers, C. R. P. (Christopher Raymond Perry), 1819-1892.
Rodgers, John, 1812-1882.
Rowan, Stephen C. (Stephen Clegg), 1808-1890.
Semmes, Raphael, 1809-1877.
Sherman, John, 1823-1900.
Sherman, Thomas W. (Thomas West), 1813-1879.
Sherman, William T. (William Tecumseh), 1820-1891.
Shubrick, William Branford, 1790-1874.
Somers Mutiny, 1842.
Steedman, Charles, 1811-1890.
Stockton, Robert Field, 1795-1866.
Totten, Joseph Gilbert, 1788-1864.
Turner, Thomas, 1808-1883.
United States Naval Academy.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Naval operations.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
United States.
United States. Navy--History--War with Mexico, 1845-1848.
United States. Navy--Officers.
Upshur, A. P. (Abel Parker), 1790-1844.
Upshur, John H. (John Henry), 1823-1917.
Van Buren, John, 1810-1866.
Wabash (Frigate).
Welles, Gideon, 1802-1878.
Williams, S. Wells (Samuel Wells), 1812-1884.
Wood, Fernando, 1812-1881.
Worden, John Lorimer, 1818-1897.
du Pont, Eleuthère Irénée, 1771-1834.
du Pont, Samuel Francis, 1803-1865.
du Pont, Sophie Madeleine, 1810-1888.
du Pont, Victor, 1767-1827.
du Pont, Victor, 1828-1888.

Series Descriptions and Inventory

I. Outgoing correspondence, 1812-1865
Scope and Content
This series includes drafts and retained copies of the letters that du Pont sent to his 1,500 correspondents. The letters are arranged chronologically, and each is identified by a Winterthur number.
Instead of keeping a private journal as many officers did in order to document their experiences at sea, du Pont addressed a series of more than 400 letters to his wife, which he assumed would serve as a semi-official record of his various overseas cruises and assignments. There are another 950 letters to Sophie included in the collection, but these are, for the most part, personal in nature.
This series also contains du Pont's official letter books for the cruises of the Congress and the Cyane (October 1845-October 1848); the cruise of the Minnesota (May 1857-May 1859); the commission in charge of the Japanese embassy (1860); and the command of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron (September 1861-July 1863).
du Pont's involvement in the naval reform movement is documented in letters to Stockton, George S. Blake, Percival Drayton, Matthew C. Perry, Benjamin Isherwood, Matthew Fontaine Maury, and Alexander Slidell MacKenzie. This correspondence describes many of the problems that the Naval Efficiency Board attempted to solve. From du Pont's perspective, the most important concerns were nepotism, political favoritism, and inadequate officer education. The correspondence indicates that he was somewhat ambivalent about the need to recognize the contributions of technically trained staff officers. He did recommend that the curriculum of the Naval Academy include rigorous training in science and mathematics.
du Pont's correspondence during the Civil War years is extremely voluminous. There are more than 1,000 letters and official dispatches addressed to Secretary Gideon Welles and his assistant, Gustavus Fox. These describe the operations of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron and the successful assault on Port Royal. The files also document the establishment of a naval base on South Carolina's Sea Islands as well as du Pont's efforts to come to terms with the social implications of the Port Royal Experiment, which raised many of the questions about the place of the black man in American society that would surface again during Reconstruction.
The letters from 1862 and 1863 clearly show that du Pont had serious reservations about the reliability of monitors but that he rarely expressed his thoughts to Welles or Fox. du Pont's efforts to defend himself after he was relieved from his command are described in more than 190 letters to Henry Winter Davis. This series also includes copies of letters, letter books, and journal-letters that were transcribed at the direction of Sophie du Pont or Colonel Henry A. du Pont.
1 Outgoing correspondence, 1806-1834
2 Outgoing correspondence, 1835-1841
3 Outgoing correspondence, 1842-1848
5 Outgoing correspondence, 1856-1858
4 Outgoing correspondence, 1849-1855
6 Outgoing correspondence, 1859-1861
7 Outgoing correspondence, 1862
8 Outgoing correspondence, 1863-June 1864
9 Outgoing correspondence, July 1864-June 1865, undated
9 Letterbooks: Cruise of Congress and Cyene, Cruise of Minnesota, Liberty Book, Japanese Embassy Commission
10 South Atlantic Blocking Squadron Letterbooks 1-5, September 1861-June 1862
11 South Atlantic Blocking Squadron Letterbooks 6-11, June 1862-February 1863
12 South Atlantic Blocking Squadron Letterbooks 12-15, February-July 1863
13 Transcripts and Extracts, November 1835-November 1862
14 Transcripts, Samuel Francis du Pont to Sophie M. du Pont, October 1861-March 1865
II. Incoming correspondence, 1813-1865
Scope and Content
This file contains more than 12,000 incoming letters, which parallel the outgoing correspondence in Series I. Again, the letters are arranged chronologically. There is a good deal of official and semi-official correspondence describing du Pont's cruises and promotions as well as naval policies and practices. Of particular interest are the letters received from British diplomats and naval officers during the 1840s and 1850s describing operations of the Royal Navy. There is a significant series of correspondence for the period of the cruise of the Minnesota. Letters received from William B. Reed, American minister to China, document the negotiations that led to the Treaty of Tientsin. Letters from Samuel Wells Williams and Edward W. Syle describe the American missionary movement in China and efforts to eradicate the opium trade.
The incoming letters also contain important correspondence from the Naval Efficiency Board years. The letters that were written to challenge the board's decisions reveal a good deal about the politics of the pre-Civil War Navy. In addition, the correspondence from the Civil War period contains many letters that du Pont's subordinate officers sent to him after the attach on Charleston. The largest single block is from Gideon Welles. These trace the secretary's growing disenchantment with du Pont's strategy and leadership.
Series II. also documents du Pont's superintendency of the 1853 Crystal Palace Exhibition and his role as official escort for the Japanese envoys in 1860. The numerous letters received by him during the visit of the Japanese show that many American were fascinated with the Far East and thought that Japan was becoming increasingly important in the international political arena.
This series included copies of original items found in the Winterthur Manuscripts. Many of the transcripts were prepared for Sophie du Pont and Henry A. du Pont. Of particular interest are typescripts made from Naval War Records (now the National Archives) and copies of 180 letters from Henry Winter Davis.
15 Incoming correspondence, 1814-1837
16 Incoming correspondence, 1838-1843
17 Incoming correspondence, 1844-June 1847
18 Incoming correspondence, July 1847-June 1849
19 Incoming correspondence, July 1849-1850
20 Incoming correspondence, 1851-1852
21 Incoming correspondence, 1853-1854
22 Incoming correspondence, 1855
23 Incoming correspondence, 1856
24 Incoming correspondence, 1857
25 Incoming correspondence, 1858-June 1859
26 Incoming correspondence, July 1859-May 1860
27 Incoming correspondence, June-December 1860
28 Incoming correspondence, January-September 1861
29 Incoming correspondence, October-November 1861
30 Incoming correspondence, December 1861-January 1862
31 Incoming correspondence, February-April 1862
32 Incoming correspondence, May-June 1862
33 Incoming correspondence, July-August 1862
34 Incoming correspondence, September-November 1862
35 Incoming correspondence, December 1862-January 1863
36 Incoming correspondence, February-March 1863
37 Incoming correspondence, April-15 May 1863
38 Incoming correspondence, 16 May-24 June 1863
39 Incoming correspondence, 25 June-December 1864
40 Incoming correspondence, January-December 1864
41 Incoming correspondence, 1865-1868, undated
42 Transcripts of letters from family, and from Rev. and Mrs. Coan, 1803-1818; 1847-1881
42 Transcripts of letters from naval personnel, 1861-1863
42 Transcripts of letters from Gustavus Vasa Fox, 1862-1863
42 Transcripts of letters from Henry Winter Davis, September 1860-February 1863
43 Transcripts of letters from Henry Winter Davis, March 1863-December 1865
III. General Files, 1803-1887
A. Loose Papers
Scope and Content
Consists of various personal and official documents and is arranged chronologically. Also included is miscellaneous correspondence, 1819-1887, such as letters that were probably received as enclosures. The letters relate to America's policy toward China, the Civil War blockade, and the U.S. Army's policy toward escaped slaves. Of particular interest is a transcript of a message from General Ulysses S. Grant to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton announcing the April 8, 1865, surrender of General Robert E. Lee.
Subseries A. also contain's du Pont's personal papers, 1803-1886, such as his baptismal certificate, memoranda on household expenses, inventories of furnishings at Louviers, and a list of articles he purchased from the items displayed at the Crystal Palace Exhibition. There are also papers relating to Christ Church, 1851-1860, such as financial records and copies of the church's articles of association. Papers relating to California real estate owned by du Pont, 1849-1859, include deeds, legal documents, and memoranda describing du Pont's San Francisco properties and his efforts to manage them. Papers about the Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations, 1852-1854, include a copy of the proposed plan of organization (1853) and the board of director's resolutions.
Papers relating to the cruises of the Congress and the Cyane, 1845-1848, describe the political situation in Mexico (1847) and include a copy of the proclamation of Robert F. Stockton to the people of California (1846). Papers about the cruise of the Minnesota, 1857-1859, consist of route maps, lists of British and French vessels engaged in the bombardment of the Chinese forts at the Peiho River (1858), and memoranda describing furniture and porcelain purchased by du Pont in Japan and China. The Naval Efficiency Board papers, 1854-1856, include memoranda on the composition and duties of the board and material on the Naval Retiring Board. Japanese Embassy papers, 1860, include correspondence addressed to Secretary of State Lewis Cass and other State Department officials, offering to entertain the Japanese diplomats during their American visit. Papers relating to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, 1861-1864, consist of correspondence from officers under du Pont's command, orders, papers concerning personnel and operations, and captured Confederate documents. Naval miscellany, 1822-1864, includes petitions and memoranda relating to personnel matters during the Mexican War and Civil War.
44 Papers pertain to the following: personal affairs; Naval Efficiency Board; Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations; Christ Church; California real estate; General Orders; cruises of the Cyane, Congress, Ohio, and Minnesota; and miscellaneous correspondence, 1803-1861
45 Papers primarily pertain to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, 1862-1863
46 Miscellaneous papers, including captured Confederate documents, 1864-1867, undated
B. Bound Volumes, 1828-1865
Scope and Content
Arranged chronologically and include du Pont's personal papers, records relating to his duty assignments, and scrapbooks of news items pertaining to events in his career. du Pont's journals describe a trip throughout New York State in 1828 and Italy in 1829-1830. There is information about the cruises of the Ontario, Ohio, Congress, Cyane, and Minnesota which include his financial account as well as a record of punishments. South Atlantic Blockading Squadron volumes consist of mail books (a record of correspondence) and General Orders.
46 Journal, trip to Niagara Falls, 1828
46 Journal, 1829-1830
46 Journal, trip to Italy, 1830, 1839
47 Pressed flowers from trips, 1831-1832
47 Accounts and memos from voyages, 1838-1848
47 Church accounts, 1851-1854
47 Reform board cases, 1855
48 Notes on purchases, personal correspondence, Minnesota cruise, 1857-1859
48 Journal, commission in charge of Japanese Embassy to U.S., 1860
48 Correspondence records, 1861-1863
48 South Atlantic Blocking Squadron: record of officers and ships and General Orders, 1861-1863
48 Scrapbooks: Naval Reform - Crystal Palace, China, 1852-1856; 1857-1858
50 Scrapbooks: China during cruise of the Minnesota, commission in charge of the Japanese embassy, 1858; 1860
51 Scrapbooks: South Atlantic Blocking Squadron, miscellaneous news items, obituaries of S.F. du Pont, 1861-1863; May-September 1865;
C. Transcripts and Extracts, 1813-1867
Scope and Content
Relate to the career of S.F. du Pont and were prepared for Sophie M. du Pont and her nephew Henry A. du Pont. These contain some fragmentary biographical information on du Pont's early years as well as extracts from his journals and diaries.
52 S.F. du Pont biographical sketch from family correspondence, 1803-1817
52 Transcripts and extracts covering cruises: Constitution, Congress, North Carolina, North Carolina, Ontario, 1821-1825; 1825-1828; 1830-1831
52 Biographical sketch and transcripts of life of S.F. du Pont, 1803-1833
52 Transcripts of letters to John M. Clayton, 1856
52 Transcripts and extracts of S.F. du Pont letters, War of Succession, 1861
53 Transcripts and extracts of S.F. du Pont letters, War of Succession, 1861-1862
53 Transcripts of correspondence between S.F. du Pont and Fox, 1861-1863
53 Extracts from the Diary of Gideon Welles, 1862-1863
53 Record of relations between Gideon Welles and S.F. du Pont, prepared by Henry Winter Davis, 1867
D. Pictures, Maps, and Charts, 1830-1863, undated
Scope and Content
Consists of a variety of material. Among the most significant items are original sketches and charts dating from du Pont's service during the Mexican War. There are also a number a pieces associated with his command of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron during the Civil War.
54 Photographs of S.F. du Pont
55 Maps, charts, plans, 1830-1863, undated
E. Residual Material, 1841-1886, undated
Scope and Content
Includes Published Collections, news items, canceled checks, calling cards, and autographs clipped from documents.
55 Published Collections, news items, calling cards, 1841-1886, undated
56 Calling cards, canceled checks, fragments, 1844-1865