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 [decorative delimiter] Class of 1833

Vol. I

(Born Del.)

Henry du Pont

(Ap'd Del.)


Born Aug. 8, 1812.

Military History. — Cadet at the Military Academy, July 1, 1829, to July 1, 1833, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to

Bvt. Second Lieut., 4th Artillery, July 1, 1833.

Served: in garrison at Ft. Monroe, Va. (Artillery School for Practice), 1833; in the Creek Nation, 1833‑34; in garrison at Ft. Monroe, Va., 1834.

Resigned, June 15, 1834.

Civil History. — A Director and Proprietor of Du Pont's Powder Mills, near Wilmington, Del., 1834‑84. Aide-de‑Camp to the Governor of Delaware, 1841‑46. Adjutant-General of the State of Delaware, 1846‑61. Member of the Board of Visitors to the U. S. Military Academy, 1850. Presidential Elector for the State of Delaware, 1868, 1876, 1880, 1884, and 1888.

Military History. — Served during the Rebellion of the Seceding States, 1861‑66: as Major-General of the State of Delaware, in command of Home Guards, May 11, 1861, to Aug. 20, 1866.

Died, Aug. 8, 1889, near Wilmington, Del.: Aged 77.

Biographical Sketch.

Major-General Henry Du Pont was born, Aug. 8, 1812, in the family homestead, near Wilmington, Del., where, on the seventy-seventh anniversary of his natal day, he died full years and full of honors. He was the second son of Eleuthère Irénée Du Pont de Nemours, a distinguished Frenchman, who, in 1800, sought an asylum in the United States from Jacobin persecution, and founded the famous powder works on the banks of the Brandywine River. Young Du Pont, at the age of eleven, entered the Mount Airy Military School at Germantown, Pa., then conducted by Colonel Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Roumfort, a graduate of the Military Academy, of the class of 1817. From here he was sent to West Point in 1829, and upon his graduation was promoted, July 1, 1833, to the Fourth Artillery, with which he served till he resigned from the Army, June 15, 1834, to assist his father and elder brother in the manufacture of gunpowder. Upon the death of his father soon after, a large share of the responsibility in the management of these, the most extensive powder works in the country, fell upon this young man of twenty-six. How he acquitted himself of this onerous task and of other important trusts is told in an obituary notice written by  p552 his friend, Fred. C. Bach, Esq., of which we make a summary. Du Pont, in 1850, owing to the ill health of his older brother, assumed the chief direction of the powder works, and from that year till his death his was the guiding and decisive mind in all matters of administration. From a capacity of 2,000 pounds a day during the second war with Great Britain, at which period they were the sole source of supply of the American Army, the daily output was enlarged to fully twenty times that amount. The product of the Brandywine mills has been an important factor in every American war since the Revolution, and likewise in several European conflicts, notably the formidable struggle in the Crimea, when large cargoes of Du Pont powder were shipped for the use of the allied armies. During the War of the Rebellion the company, at the request of President Lincoln, sent one of its members to Europe to make purchases for the Union Army. The firm kept abreast of the powder manufacturing of the world, and in all its enterprises General Du Pont was the dominating spirit. He proved equal to every hazardous demand of his business, and it is said of him that no man, perhaps, ever accomplished more for himself and his associates with less business exaction. Enterprise, courage, fair dealing, and liberality were the characteristics of his business life.

General Du Pont's diversion was agriculture. He was probably the most extensive landowner in Delaware, and his holding was the most valuable in the State. During the later years of his life his recreation consisted almost entirely in driving over his vast estate, inspecting crops and stock, and planning improvements. The miles of well-cultivated fields along the banks of the Brandywine were his pride and pleasure, and he spent thousands of dollars in enriching and improving them.

In politics General Du Pont was a Republican, and in years and honors the foremost member of his party in the State of Delaware. Without taste or ambition for political life, and repeatedly declining offers of nomination or appointment in the good old Whig days when he belonged to the dominant party in Delaware, he nevertheless served as inspector of elections and challenger at the polls on numerous occasions, and was a Presidential Elector in 1868, 1876, 1880, 1884, and 1888. He held cordial and life-long relations with Henry Clay, for whom his first vote was cast, in 1836, against Martin Van Buren. In 1860, in accordance with his conservative tendencies, General Du Pont voted for Bell and Everett, but the election of Abraham Lincoln was the signal for his heartiest support of the Republican Party.

General Du Pont's military services in behalf of the State of Delaware and the Union were conspicuous. He served as Aide-de‑camp on the staff of Gov. William B. Cooper in 1841, and as Adjutant-General of the State for fifteen years from 1846, or until the breaking out of the Civil War, when he was appointed Major-General of Delaware militia by Gov. William Burton, which position General Du Pont accepted on the express condition that he should have absolute control of all the armed troops in the State. He ordered that every company should forthwith be mustered into the United States service, and every man subscribe to the oath of allegiance to the Federal Government, and that all who declined taking the required oath should be deprived of their arms. This action created great consternation, which was heightened by Governor Burton suspending General Du Pont's order. But prompt action on part of the Government nipped the incipient conspiracy of secession in the bud, a number of the leaders being arrested, and sent to the prisoners' camp at Baltimore. General Du Pont resigned his commission as Major-General, Aug. 20, 1866. He was a member of the Board of Visitors to the United States Academyº at West Point in 1850.

Colonel Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Henry A. Du Pont, who graduated from the Military Academy at the head of his class in May, 1861, and did gallant service in the  p553 War of the Rebellion, was the eldest son of General Du Pont. Rear Admiral S. F. Du Pont, U. S. Navy, who was so distinguished in the Civil War at Port Royal and Charleston, was the brother of the General.

A lifelong friend says of our departed brother and much-cherished classmate: "His debtors, as well as his creditors, were always glad to see Henry Du Pont. He was a gentleman of the old school, and whether in the office or in the drawing-room he was uniformly urbane and cordial. He attended scrupulously day by day to the smallest detail of his vast business, and there he came in contact with a great many and with all kinds and classes of persons, and all bear testimony to his gentle and engaging manners, his unfailing consideration, and his hearty sincerity."

"Perhaps a gentleman," says Thackeray, "is a rarer man than some of us think for. Which of us can point out many such in his circle, men whose aims are generous, whose truth is constant, and not only constant in its kind but elevated in its degree; whose want of meanness makes them simple, who can look the world honestly in the face with an equal manly sympathy for the great and the small?" Unhesitatingly we point to General Henry Du Pont as fulfilling all these high requisites.

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