Betsy’s Circle: Victor Marie du Pont

Among the French emigrés that Betsy and Jerome knew in the United States were Victor and Gabrielle du Pont, of the famed Du Pont family.

Victor Marie du Pont was born in Paris on October 1, 1767 — 246 years ago today. At the age of 17, he began to work with his father in the Bureau of Commerce. France was still a monarchy at the time. In 1788, the year before the French Revolution, du Pont went to the United States to work with the French minister here. Over the next few years, du Pont traveled back and forth between the two countries, but in 1800, the entire Du Pont family moved to the United States for good.

Victor du Pont established a trading company in New York and helped provide supplies to the French troops in Santo Domingo. Victor’s company went bankrupt, partially because the French government didn’t pay him. (There are also reports that du Pont went deeply into debt entertaining Betsy and her husband. Jerome was the emperor’s baby brother after all.) Victor’s brother, Eleuthère Irénée du Pont, was more successful. He founded the chemical company that still bears the family name.

In 1811, Victor and his family moved to Delaware, where he founded a wool manufacturing company. He eventually served in the Delaware State House and State Senate. One of his sons was a rear admiral during the Civil War.

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