Thomas Jefferson Papers

Enclosure: Victor du Pont’s Notes on Samuel F. Du Pont, [ca. 7 December 1815]


Victor du Pont’s Notes on Samuel F. Du Pont

[ca. 7 Dec. 1815]

A Few Facts1 in Support of the request made by Victor du Pont of a Warrant of Midshipman for his son Samuel Francis—

Two objections will probably2 be made

1o Mr du Pont is a foreigner

2o What has Mr d. P. done to obtain a preference from the Government

The first of these objections can be answered in stating that V. d. P. came over to the U.S. upwards of twenty eight years ago and has been naturalised about sixteen years—That when living in the State of New york he has held two Commissions under Governors Lewis & Tompkins, one of 1t major of militia, the other for an office of trust & profit, Clerk of a County—Since V. d. P. lives in the State of Delaware he has been elected twice and is now a member of the State Legislature, So in point of Citizenship he is equal to any naturalised Citizen in the union.3

In answer to the Second objection, it will be easy to prove that the Messr du Pont who are naturalised have been usefull & active Citizens, and that their father who is not naturalised But who was employed by the french government in the confection of the treaty of 1783 has since that time been a constant friend and a zealous supporter & advocate of the rights & interests of the United States in france—V. d. P just before his naturalisation was Several years consul of the French Republic and his conduct in that capacity contrary to that of some of4 his predecessors has been as he was informed perfectly satisfactory to the State & to the general Government—

The Messrs du Pont have imported the first Merino Ram in the U.S.

They have established some of the first and of the most extensive Factories in this Country, and which are Certainly among the most perfect of their kind—

During the late War the Messr du Pont have at their own expence (except the muskets which were loaned to them by the Commisary general) raised & equiped three Companies of Volunteers called the Brandywine Rangers making a respectable force of 280 effective men, well uniformed and disciplined—the men were drilled once a week and excercised to sham battles in the woods and among the Rocks of the Brandywine,5 of these 280 men about 200 were in the employ of the Messr du Pont, consequently every afternoon drill did cost them somewhere about $100 in wagges—the amount of these wagges, of the ammunition and other attending expences, was a voluntary War tax of considerable magnitude, and will they hope place them in the ranks of those who have well deserved of their Country6

All they ask is the chance of placing in the Navy a very promising youth, who will probably do honor to the Service & follow the steps of our Brave commanders

MS (DLC: James Madison Papers); filed at 18 Jan. 1816; entirely in Victor du Pont’s hand; undated; edge trimmed. FC (DeGH: Victor du Pont Papers, Winterthur Manuscripts); endorsed by Victor du Pont: “Letter & Memorial to the President requesting a Warrant of Midshipman for Francis—Washington December 14th 1815.” Also enclosed in TJ to James Madison, 22 Dec. 1815.

Samuel Francis Du Pont (1803–65), naval officer, was born at Bergen Point, New Jersey, and attended school in Germantown, Pennsylvania. President Madison appointed him a midshipman on 19 Dec. 1815, and he first went to sea in 1817. Du Pont was promoted to lieutenant in 1826, commander in 1843 (with the commission to date from 1842), captain in 1855, and rear admiral in 1862. He served on the California coast during the Mexican War, sat on the Naval Efficiency Board in 1855, and participated in an 1857–59 expedition to China and Japan. During the Civil War, Du Pont was charged with blockading the South Atlantic, captured Port Royal, South Carolina, in 1861, and led an unsuccessful 1863 attack on Charleston, South Carolina. He died in Philadelphia (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; Kevin J. Weddle, Lincoln’s Tragic Admiral: The Life of Samuel Francis Du Pont [2005]; Callahan, U.S. Navy description begins Edward W. Callahan, List of Officers of the Navy of the United States and of the Marine Corps from 1775 to 1900, 1901, repr. 1969 description ends , 174; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 3:530, 534, 6:150, 161, 10:17, 125, 12:67, 154, 155, 13:2, 29 [17, 28 Apr. 1826, 14 Dec. 1842, 5 Jan. 1843, 16 Jan., 17 July 1856, 6 Jan., 6 Mar., 5 Dec. 1862, 9 Jan. 1863]; John D. Hayes, ed., Samuel Francis Du Pont: A Selection from his Civil War Letters, 3 vols. [1969]; Philadelphia Inquirer, 24 June 1865; gravestone in Du Pont de Nemours Cemetery, Wilmington, Del.).

The FC is subjoined to an FC of Victor du Pont to Madison, Washington City, 14 Dec. 1815, in which he asks that the enclosed memorial be thrown in the fire immediately after perusal; remarks that Madison may be unacquainted with some of the circumstances favoring the application and that “we are very serious to obtain & merit your approbation”; and states that “The recommendation will be left in the office of the Minister of the Navy” (DeGH: Samuel Francis Du Pont Papers, Winterthur Manuscripts). In 1801 Victor du Pont’s brother, Eleuthère I. du Pont de Nemours, helped to import Don Pedro, one of the first merino sheep in the United States (Agricultural History 33 [1959]: 86–8).

1FC here adds “humbly Submitted to his Exy Mr Madison Predt of the U.S.”

2FC: “perhaps.”

3FC here adds “and all his children are born in this country.”

4Preceding two words interlined.

5Preceding fifteen words not in FC.

6Remainder of FC reads “From their long residence and numerous acquaintances Mess. d. P. could certainly add a long list of respectable names to the recommendations in favor of the appointment of Samuel Francis in the Navy, they have only and for form Sake collected few in Wilmington, trusting alltogether in the Wisdom & justice of his Excellency who if he does not think proper to grant the favor, will only discover in the application a new proof of the zeal & devotion of a family which will always be proud & anxious to Serve the Country in every Generation & on every occasion.”

Index Entries

  • Delaware; militia of search
  • Don Pedro (sheep) search
  • Du Pont, Samuel Francis; identified search
  • Du Pont, Samuel Francis; seeks naval appointment search
  • du Pont, Victor Marie; career of search
  • du Pont, Victor Marie; Notes on Samuel F. Du Pont search
  • du Pont, Victor Marie; seeks naval appointment for son search
  • du Pont de Nemours, Eleuthère Irénée; and Don Pedro (sheep) search
  • Du Pont de Nemours, Pierre Samuel; and Treaty of Paris (1783) search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation to search
  • Lewis, Morgan; governor of N.Y. search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); letters of recommendation to search
  • merino sheep; and E. I. du Pont de Nemours search
  • militia; and War of1812 search
  • Paris; Treaty of (1783) search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation to TJ search
  • Tompkins, Daniel D.; as governor of N.Y. search
  • War of1812; militia activity search