Pierre-Etienne Du Ponceau (1760-1844)
|Relationship to the Speculation Lands:|
|Pierre-Etienne Du Ponceau (also known as Peter Stephen Duponceau), a friend of the Coxe family and of William Tilghman, served as one of several trustees for Tench Coxe during the turbulent financial years of Coxe's land speculation. Jacob E. Cooke in Tench Coxe and the Early Republic describes Du Ponceau as one of Coxe's "closest associates, his legal adviser, one of the assignees to whom he handed over management of his property, and a constant companion," over a period of three decades. [ Cooke, p.237]|
Born in France on June 3, 1760, Pierre-Etienne Du Ponceau came to America in 1777 as secretary and an aide-de-camp to Baron von Steuben. In 1778 he was made captain in the Continental Army and fought alongside von Stuben and Washington at Valley Forge. In the spring of 1778 he gave his signature to the Oaths of Allegiance taken at Valley Forge under the command of George Washington. As secretary to von Steuben he assisted in the 1779 publication in Philadelphia of Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States. Following his service in the Continental Army Du Ponceau became secretary to Robert Livingston, the U.S. Secretary for Foreign Affairs where he specialized in international law and trade. He was also a philologist and spoke multiple languages. His comprehensive study of Indian languages was a foundational work in the field of Native American linguistics.* He took up residence in Virginia and later in Philadelphia. In 1827 he was elected President of the American Philosophical Society and served in that capacity from 1828 until he died on April 1, 1844.
The Historical Society of Delaware, Wilmington holds the manuscript of a diary Du Ponceau maintained in the first months after coming to America. He also published English Phonology in 1817 and Languages of the Indian Nations of North America in 1838 and Making Our National Literature Independent in 1834. Late in life he completed his autobiography in a series of letters to his family. The letters have been compiled in "The Autobiography of Peter Stephen DuPonceau," edited by James J. Whitehead, and are found in the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, April, July, October, 1939; and January, April, 1940. Most of his papers and correspondence is held by the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia.
In his "A Brief View of the Constitution of the United States", addressed to the Law Academy of Philadelphia in 1831, Du Ponceau says in his concluding remarks:
0135 - Deed of Release for land in Patent 1023 on the Main Broad River, granted by the State of North Carolina to Tench Coxe as the assignee of Beard et al, November 2, 1796. The document is referenced as an "Abstract of a Deed," delivered May 15, 1828.
0192 - True and Perfect Copy of the Proceedings of the Superior Courts in Rutherford and Lincoln Counties, signed by John Michael, Clerk of the Court, dated April 12, 1841. The case began in April 1828 in Rutherford County and was transferred to Lincoln County in 1832 as in the judge's opinion a fair and impartial trial could not be held in Rutherford County due to the number of interested parties. The case was not concluded until 1835, in part due to the number of continuances. The case began as a Breach of Contract against Richard Roe brought by John Doe over use of land for a contract period of ten years, beginning January 1, 1828. The land in question was located on the waters of the Broad River and Buffalo Creek, 1. John Doe was physically removed from his farm and the land and sued for $1,200 for "mental anguish". 2. It evolved into a case of who actually owned the land - Richard Roe or Bronson et al. 3. Affidavits filed by Arthur Bronson, Joshua Forman, Agent, and Samuel L. Gidney stated that Bronson, Hoyt, et al owned the land. 4. Two surveys of the land are included in the Court records. 5. A jury trial was held with twelve jurors seated. 6. The jury awarded $6.00 to the defendant and ordered Peter Stephen Du Ponceau (One of two trustees of Tench Coxe's land holdings) to pay court costs of $83.50. (It is unclear if Du Ponceau or his agent was in fact Richard Roe.) Also see Item 77/294 in this Section.
0776 - Chronology of events of Patents 1050 and 1045: 1. August 12, 1819, Augustus Sacket conveyed a Deed of Mortgage to the Trustees of Tench Coxe. 2. August 17, 1819, the Trustees conveyed lands to Augustus Sacket. 3. March 15, 1822, Abraham Kintzing released his Trusteeship to Peter S. Du Ponceau. 4. February 12, 1825, Peter S. Du Ponceau assigned the Mortgage of Augustus Sacket to Thompson, Hoyt, Bronson et al. 5. 1826, Thompson et al file suit against Augustus Sacket. 6. October 20, 1826, Report and sales are given to James Stevens. 7. May 1827, ___ assigns to James Stevens. 8. May 6, 1827, Stevens assigns his rights to Hoyt, Murray, and Arthur Bronson. 9. March 24, 1828, James Murray assigns his rights to Isaac Bronson. 10. March 6, 1830, Arthur Bronson assigns his rights to Isaac Bronson and Gould Hoyt.
A Dissertation on the Nature and Extent of the Jurisdiction of the Courts of the United States (1824).
A Brief View of the Constitution of the United States, Address (1831).
Smith, Murphy D., "Peter Stephen DuPonceau and his Study of Languages," Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 127 (1983): 143-179.
American Philosophical Soc. (Archives & Misc. Mss. Coll.)., Philadelphia, PA, ca.1801 to 1844. (Historical and Literary Committee Letterbooks). 1815 to 1826. Vols. 1-3. Historical and philological researches and publications. of the Committee. Miscellaneous correspondence and mss., primarily concerning the research and functioning of the APS. Correspondence (B/D92p). 1786 to 1842. Correspondents include Samuel Coates, Citoyen Pinchon, William. Tilghman, Edward S. Burd, Dr. Demme, Mr. Popham. Philology and misc. topics. Letters to Albert Gallatin (Film 541). 1 Feb. 1801 to 28 July 1843. 43 Ls. + 1 L. to Mrs. O'Sullivan. Law, property; philology. Also, correspondence with Thomas Jefferson regarding Indian languages and other topics (1791-1840). Letters on law, business, Indian languages, APS, etc., to and from Edward S. Burd, Samuel Coates, Albert Gallatin, and William Tilghman.
Indian vocabularies, 1820-44. 1 vol. (253 pp.). Copies of 82 vocabularies representing 73 languages with notes and additions made by Du Ponceau and Albert Gallatin. Vocabularies for South American languages are copied from rare printed sources, while North American vocabularies are from both printed and manuscript sources. The first 23 pages of the volume are the Continuance Docket of the Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County, 1783-86. Cases noted are those involving Stephen Dutilh, Samuel Garrigues, John Girard, John Holker, Charles J. de Longchamps, and Claude P. Raguet.
Notebooks on Philology. 9 vols. (ca. 654 pp.). Principally on American Indian languages, with some notes on the languages of the Tartars, Arabs, Greeks, Polynesians, and others.
Sea terms in different languages, n.d. 1 vol. (56 pp.).
Letters to Albert Gallatin, 1801-1843. New York Historical Society.
Letters to John Heckewelder, 1816-1822. State Historical Society of Wisconsin.
DuPonceau, Peter Stephen. "Autobiography of Peter Stephen DuPonceau."
Edited by J. L. Whitehead. Pennsylvania Magazine
Heckewelder and Duponceau Correspondence, in Transactions of the Historical and Literary Committee of the American Philosophical Society, 3 vols.