Eleuthère Irénée du Pont
Eleuthère Irénée du Pont founded the DuPont company in 1802. January marks the anniversary month of the arrival of the du Pont family in America in 1800.
Eleuthère Irénée du Pont (1771–1834), founder of the DuPont Company, was the son of Pierre Samuel du Pont, a French economist, government official, and publicist. Pierre was among those attempting moderate reforms to inequitable and inefficient institutions in the last years of the Old Regime and the early days of the French Revolution. Pierre became friends with Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier because of their similar political agendas, and together they reorganized the Royal Gunpowder and Saltpeter Administration. Lavoisier, one of the agency’s four directors, soon hired Pierre’s younger son, Eleuthère Irénée, to work in the Essonne gunpowder factory, where he learned how to manufacture gunpowder.
Eleuthère Irénée soon recognized a business opportunity in the poor quality of the gunpowder generally available in the United States, and in 1802 he set up a powder works on the banks of the Brandywine River in Delaware. He created a major American business enterprise, one that employed 140 men by 1827 and was producing over a million pounds of gunpowder per year by 1834, the year of his death.
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Excerpted with permission, Chemical Heritage Foundation