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Delaware Public Archives presents program on DuPont & the Civil War

James Dawson/Delaware Public Media

Delaware Public Archives is offering a chance to learn more about the DuPont Company’s role in the Civil War Saturday.

The program is called “DuPont and the American Civil War” and will be presented by Lucas Clawson, a historian and reference archivist at Wilmington’s Hagley Museum and Library.

Clawson says DuPont was the nation’s most prominent black powder manufacturer on the eve of the conflict between the North and the South, but that’s led to some misconceptions.

“So one of the assumptions that people make with companies like DuPont is that they immediately are going to make a lot of money and be big-time players  in the war. And DuPont was a big player, but they actually didn’t make a lot of money. The war-time economy was something quite difficult for them to navigate. And that’s what we’re going to discuss,” said Clawson.

When fighting broke out in 1861, the Federal government called on the company to make black powder for the Army and Navy as well as provide some of the necessary raw ingredients to other manufacturers.


Clawson argues understanding this history is worthwhile.


“It’s important because it helps reinterpret the DuPont Company and complicate how we think about the company itself and its long history, that it’s pretty ingrained for Delaware. We all know who DuPont is and are aware of its presence, but not a lot of folks are aware of the detailed history and where it came from and how it got to be the way it is today.”


Clawson’s presentation Saturday starts at 10:30 a.m. at the Public Archives in Dover.  The program is free and will last about a hour.


Kelli Steele has over 30 years of experience covering news in Delaware, Baltimore, Winchester, Virginia, Phoenix, Arizona and San Diego, California.