Henry A. du Pont
|Henry Algernon du Pont|
|United States Senator
June 13, 1906 – March 3, 1917
|Preceded by||L. Heisler Ball |
|Succeeded by||Josiah O. Wolcott|
July 30, 1838|
|Died||December 31, 1926
|Spouse(s)||Mary Pauline Foster|
|Children||Henry Francis du Pont
Louisa Evelina du Pont
|Alma mater||University of Pennsylvania
United States Military Academy
|Occupation||soldier, railroad executive|
|Allegiance||United States of America
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1861 - 1875|
Brevet Lieutenant Colonel
|Unit||5th Artillery Regiment|
|Battles/wars||American Civil War|
|Awards||Medal of Honor|
Henry Algernon du Pont (July 30, 1838 – December 31, 1926) was an American soldier, businessman, and politician from Delaware. A member of the illustrious du Pont family, he graduated from West Point shortly after the beginning of the American Civil War and served in the Union Army, earning the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle of Cedar Creek in October 1864.
After retiring from the Army in 1875, he was president of the Wilimington & Northern Railroad Company for 20 years, until 1899. An active member of the Republican Party, he was elected by the state legislature as a U.S. Senator from Delaware, serving most of two terms (June 13, 1906 to March 4, 1917).
Early life and education
Du Pont was born July 30, 1838 at Eleutherian Mills, near Greenville, Delaware, son of Henry and Louisa Gerhard du Pont and grandson of Eleuthère Irénée du Pont, the founder of E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company and the family in the United States.
He attended the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and graduated first in his class from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York in 1861, after the beginning of the American Civil War.
Civil war and military career
Du Pont was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant of Engineers upon his graduation from West Point on 6 May 1861. Soon after he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant in the 5th Regiment, U.S. Artillery with date of rank of 14 May 1861. He served as a light artillery officer in the Union Army during the war, initially assigned to the defenses of Washington and New York Harbor. From 6 July 1861 to 24 March 1864, he served as regimental adjutant (administrative officer) until he was promoted to captain. He subsequently became chief of artillery in the Army of West Virginia.
Du Pont was part of General Philip Sheridan's army in the Shenandoah Valley of northern Virginia. He received the Medal of Honor for his handling of a retreat at the Battle of Cedar Creek, allowing Sheridan to win a victory in the battle. During the war, du Pont received two brevets (honorary promotions). The first was to the rank of major, dated 19 September 1864, for gallant service in the battles of Opequan and Fisher's Hill. The second brevet was to the rank of lieutenant colonel, dated 19 October 1864, for distinguished service at the Battle of Cedar Creek, Virginia.
After the war, Du Pont continued as a career officer until resigning on 1 March 1875. In the postwar years, he became a companion of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS), an organization for former officers of the Union Army and their descendants. Then assigned to Washington, DC, Du Pont was a member of the District of Columbia Commandery and was issued MOLLUS insignia number 10418.
Marriage and family
At the age of 36, du Pont married Mary Pauline Foster in 1874. They had two children, Henry Francis du Pont and Louisa Evelina du Pont. They lived on his estate, Winterthur, near Greenville, Delaware. The family were members of Christ Episcopal Church in Christiana Hundred.
In 1875 du Pont returned full-time to Delaware. Within a few years, he became president and general manager of the Wilmington & Northern Railroad Company, serving from 1879 until 1899. During that time, and for the remainder of his life, he also operated an experimental farm on his estate. Since 1951, when his son established it as a museum, the estate has been operated as the Winterthur Museum and Country Estate near Greenville, Delaware.
Du Pont was elected to the U.S. Senate on June 13, 1906, to fill the vacancy in the term beginning March 4, 1905. During this term, he served with the Republican majority in the 59th, 60th, and 61st U.S. Congress. In the 61st Congress he was Chairman of the Committee on Expenditures in the Military Affairs Department.
He was again elected to the U.S. Senate in 1911. During this term, he served with the Republican majority in the 62nd Congress, but was in the minority in the 63rd, and 64th U.S. Congress. In the 62nd Congress he was again Chairman of the Committee on Expenditures in the War Department, in the 63rd Congress he was a member of the Committee on Military Affairs, and in the 64th Congress he was a member of the Committee on Transportation and Sale of Meat Products.
In the first popular election of a U.S. Senator in Delaware, du Pont lost his bid for a third full term in 1916 to Democrat Josiah O. Wolcott, the Delaware Attorney General. In all, he served most of two terms from June 13, 1906 to March 4, 1917, during the administrations of U.S. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William H. Taft and Woodrow Wilson.
Death and legacy
Henry A. du Pont died at his home, Winterthur, and is buried in the Du Pont de Nemours Cemetery at Greenville, Delaware. His son, Henry Francis du Pont, developed his home into the well known Winterthur Museum. Archival materials relating to him are part of the Archives owned by the museum at Greenville, near Wilmington.
Medal of Honor citation
Rank and organization: Captain, 5th U.S. Artillery. Place and date: At Cedar Creek, Va., October 19, 1864. Entered service at: Wilmington, Del. Birth: Eleutherean Mills, Del. Date of issue: April 2, 1898.
- By his distinguished gallantry, and voluntary exposure to the enemy's fire at a critical moment, when the Union line had been broken, encouraged his men to stand to their guns, checked the advance of the enemy, and brought off most of his pieces.
Elections are held the first Tuesday after November 1. The General Assembly chose the U.S. Senators, who took office March 4 for a six year term. After 1913 they were popularly elected.
|Office||Type||Location||Began office||Ended office||notes|
|U.S. Senator||Legislature||Washington||June 13, 1906||March 3, 1911|
|U.S. Senator||Legislature||Washington||March 4, 1911||March 3, 1917|
|1905–1907||59th||U.S. Senate||Republican||Theodore Roosevelt||class 1|
|1907–1909||60th||U.S. Senate||Republican||Theodore Roosevelt||class 1|
|1909–1911||61st||U.S. Senate||Republican||William Howard Taft||class 1|
|1911–1913||62nd||U.S. Senate||Republican||William Howard Taft||class 1|
|1913–1915||63rd||U.S. Senate||Democratic||Woodrow Wilson||class 1|
|1915–1917||64th||U.S. Senate||Democratic||Woodrow Wilson||class 1|
|1916||U.S. Senator||Henry A. du Pont||Republican||22,925||45%||Josiah O. Wolcott||Democratic||25,434||50%|
|Hiram R. Burton||Independent||2,361||5%|
- This seat had been vacant since March 4, 1905.
- Carter, Richard B. (2001). Clearing New Ground, The Life of John G. Townsend, Jr. Wilmington, Delaware: The Delaware Heritage Press. ISBN 0-924117-20-6.
- Dutton, William S. (1942). Du Pont One Hundred and Forty Years. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
- Hoffecker, Carol E. (2004). Democracy in Delaware. Wilmington, Delaware: Cedar Tree Books. ISBN 1-892142-23-6.
- Johnson, William G. (April 1969). "The Senatorial Career of Henry Algernon du Pont". Delaware History 13: 234–51. ISSN 0011-7765.
- Munroe, John A. (1993). History of Delaware. Newark, Delaware: University of Delaware Press. ISBN 0-87413-493-5.
- "Biographical Directory of the United States Congress". Retrieved September 29, 2010.
- "Delaware’s Members of Congress". Retrieved September 29, 2010.
- "Henry A. du Pont". Find a Grave. Retrieved September 6, 2010.
- "Political Graveyard". Retrieved September 29, 2010.
- "Henry Algernon du Pont papers". Retrieved September 29, 2010.
- "Col. H.A. du Pont Company records". Retrieved September 29, 2010.
- The Campaign of 1864 in the Valley of Virginia and the Expedition to Lynchburg by Henry A. du Pont