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I. Du Pont
founder of the second largest chemical manufacturer in the world
Éleuthère Irénée Du Pont de Nemours was born in Paris, France, on June 24, 1771, a son of Pierre Du Pont de Nemours, an active member of the French government before, during, and after French Revolution. He became a pupil of chemist Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier in 1787 and entered the royal powder mills at Essone, where he learned how to manufacture gunpowder. When the French Revolution began, Du Pont left the mills and took charge of his father's printing business in Paris. In 1792, he stood with his father in defense of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette from angry mobs, an action which put them in great disfavor in France. In 1799, he emigrated to the United States with his father.
Noting the poor quality of gunpowder then being manufactured in the United States, Du Pont decided to start his own powder mill. In 1802, after returning to France for plans and models of French gunpowder machinery and to obtain financial support, he established E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. on the Brandywine River near Wilmington, Delaware. The quality of his gunpowder proved so exceptional that his company was the largest manufacturer of gunpowder in the country by 1811. He also established and operated a wool mill, a cotton mill, and a tannery, all of which were very successful.
E.I. Du Pont died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on October 31, 1834. His sons and heirs have expanded his company over the years since, and Du Pont is now the second largest chemical manufacturer in the world.
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This page was last updated on April 30, 2017.