True or false:
HSP’s second president - Peter S. Du Ponceau - studied with Benedictine monks in France as a teenager.
Check back on Wednesday, August 30th to find out the answer!
According to Hampton L. Carson’s History of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Peter S. Du Ponceau (1760-1844) had a mother who wished him to enter the priesthood and a father who wished him to go into military service. Because he wore glasses, Du Ponceau was disqualified from the military so he was sent to western France where he studied with monks at Saint-Jean-d'Angély. Du Ponceau eventually found his way into the military during the Revolutionary War, when he served as secretary to Baron von Steuben. After the war, he studied law in Philadelphia, and he was entered the bar at only twenty-five years old.
Du Ponceau served as HSP’s president from 1837 to 1844, and he saw the society through difficult times. His administration was bookended by crisis. On one end was the Panic of 1837, which led the nation into a significant recession for many years. And on the other were local labor strikes and racial riots that plagued Philadelphia during the early 1840s. During this time, HSP struggled financially, and there was a lull in its activities. But Du Ponceau fought to keep the society going. Under his watch, HSP received a number of significant donations, such as the diaries of Christopher Marshall and the Shippen family papers. Du Ponceau was unanimously reelected president of the society in February1844. He died a short time later in April that same year.