Du Pont, Eleuthère Irénée

Du Pont, Eleuthère Irénée

(do͞o pŏnt, Fr. ālötĕr` ērānā` dü pôN), 1772–1834, American gunpowder manufacturer, b. Paris, France; son of Pierre Samuel du Pont de NemoursDu Pont de Nemours, Pierre Samuel
, 1739–1817, French economist, one of the physiocrats. Early in his career he attracted the attention of François Quesnay and edited the Journal de l'agriculture in 1765–66 and the
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. At the age of 17, Irénée entered the royal gunpowderworks, where LavoisierLavoisier, Antoine Laurent
, 1743–94, French chemist and physicist, a founder of modern chemistry. He studied under eminent men of his day, won early recognition, and was admitted to the Academy of Sciences in 1768.
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 taught him the trade. After Lavoisier was forced to leave the plant, Irénée began managing (1791) his father's printing house, where the Du Ponts published counterrevolutionary pamphlets. When the Jacobins suppressed the printing house, Irénée and his family left for the United States to set up a trading and land company. Although he met disillusionment upon reaching (1800) the United States, Irénée soon formulated plans to improve the quality of American gunpowder. In July, 1802, he began constructing his powderworks on Brandywine Creek, near Wilmington, Del. Despite lack of capital, Irénée continuously improved his gunpowder and plant and, within a few years, developed an extensive business (now E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company). His sales were augmented during the War of 1812 and the years following, but his immense debts and family obligations constantly plagued him. He was appointed (1822) a director of the Bank of the United States, and his judgment on developing industries and encouraging agriculture was often sought.