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 Éleuthère Irénée DuPont

Éleuthère Irénée DuPont

Birth
Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France
Death 31 Oct 1834 (aged 63)
Greenville, New Castle County, Delaware, USA
Burial Wilmington, New Castle County, Delaware, USA
Plot Old Cemetery, D-3, Lot # 005
Memorial ID 308 · View Source
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Chemist, Industrialist. He was the founder of the gunpowder manufacturer, E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company. His descendants, the Du Pont family, were one of America's richest and most prominent families in the 19th and 20th centuries. Born into a prominent French family, his father was a political economist who had been elevated to the status of nobility in 1784 by "letters patent" granted by King Louis XVI. As a youth, he had an attraction to explosives and was not particularly interested in academics. In 1785 he entered the Collège Royal in Paris, France and two years later he was accepted by the friend of his father and noted chemist Antoine Lavoisier as a student in the Régie des poudres et des salpêtres, the government agency responsible for the manufacture of gunpowder. After a brief apprenticeship, he took a position at the government powder works in Essones, France but quit after Lavoisier left. In 1791 he began to help his father manage their small publishing house in Paris, where they published a republican newspaper in support of governmental reforms in France. He was a member of the pro-Revolution national guard and supported the Jacobins. On August 20, 1792 he and his father participated in protecting the escape of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette when the Tuileries Palace was stormed. His father riled fellow revolutionaries by refusing to go along with the guillotine execution of Louis XVI, and the two men's moderate political views proved to be a liability in revolutionary France. In 1794 his father was arrested, only avoiding execution because of the end of the Reign of Terror. In September 1797 he and his father spent a night in La Force prison while their home and presses were ransacked. These events led his father to lose hope in the political situation in France, and so he began making plans to move the family to the US and aspired to create a model community of French émigrés. In October 1799 his family sold their publishing house and set sail for the US and arrived at Rhode Island in January 1, 1800 and began to settle in the home that his father had obtained in Bergen Point, New Jersey. He initially had no aspirations of becoming involved with gunpowder manufacture again upon his arrival in the US, but he brought with him an expertise in chemistry and gunpowder making, during a time when the quality of American-made gunpowder was very poor. After touring an American gunpowder plant, he quickly concluded that the saltpeter being used was of good enough quality, however the American refining process was poor and inefficient compared to the techniques he had learned in France. He then decided to use his experience from France to manufacture gunpowder of a higher quality in the US and reform the current industry standard for refinery. With his father's blessing, he began to assemble capital for the construction of the first powder mills, and returned to France in the beginning of 1801 to obtain the necessary financing and equipment. The company was christened E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company since it was its namesake's ingenuity that had created this venture. He purchased a site on Brandywine Creek near Wilmington, Delaware where a former cotton-spinning mill had stood, and the first gunpowder was produced in April 1804. He died at the age of 63. After his death, his sons Alfred V and Henry du Pont took over management of the operation. The company he founded would become one of the largest and most successful American corporations. By the mid-19th century, it was the largest supplier of gunpowder to the US military, and supplied as much as 40-percent of the powder used by the Union Army forces during the Civil War. His grandson, Lammot du Pont I, was the first president of the US Gunpowder Trade Association, popularly known as the Powder Trust.

Bio by: William Bjornstad



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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 308
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Éleuthère Irénée DuPont (24 Jun 1771–31 Oct 1834), Find A Grave Memorial no. 308, citing Du Pont de Nemours Cemetery, Wilmington, New Castle County, Delaware, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .