We've talked many times about how important the du Pont family was in influencing the culture and politics of Greater Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley, but did you know how important the family was during the American Civil War? On April 12th we celebrated the 150thAnniversary of the attack on Fort Sumter, the official beginning to one the most important wars in both American and world history. It is fitting then that Hagley Museum and Library's new exhibit "Oath of Allegiance to the Republic: the du Ponts and the Civil War" tomorrow Saturday April 30th. I was lucky enough to take a guided tour of the exhibit on Thursday and to put it simply, I was blown away.
The team at Hagley has done an incredible job mixing the old (personal wartime possessions of the du Pont family including the uniform of Admiral Samuel F. Du Pont) with the new (3D video displays of important local figures during the war). The staff is incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastic when talking with guests and do an exceptional job of illustrating just how important the Du Pont Company was to the Union war efforts. In fact, the company produced almost half of the gunpowder purchased for use by the Union forces during the War. I was also surprised to learn that Lammot du Pont was also responsible for negotiating the end of an embargo on military exports to the United States by England, allowing the DuPont Company to acquire the raw materials necessary to make the powder. You'll learn plenty of similar factoids while chatting with the curator of the exhibit Lucas Clawson. Lucas is extraordinarily knowledgeable about the time period and he is an entertaining and engaging speaker. He did a great job of presenting facts and an even better job of conveying the feelings and emotions of the Brandywine Valley citizenry during this time. I highly recommend taking a curator-led tour of the exhibit to experience Lucas' knowledge for yourself. Talks are thirty minutes and cost just $3 per person. (In the meantime you can see an additional interview with Lucas here).These tours are available Monday through Friday, May,3 2011 through July 22nd, 2012.The exhibit will run through Sunday, July 22, 2012 but don't wait to see this exhibit it will certainly be an experience you will never forget. As always, admission to an exhibit at Hagley gets you admission to the entire 235-acre museum. Hmmm...even more incentive to buy that passport for the summer season!