du Pont, Alfred I.

du Pont, Alfred I. (Irénée)

(1864–1935) industrialist; born near Wilmington, Del. (son of Eleuthère Irénée du Pont II). At age 20 he left the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to work at the family explosives firm. After studying a new European gunpowder for the U.S. Ordnance Department (1889), he won the contract for its American manufacture. With cousins Coleman and Pierre du Pont he bought E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, the Delaware-based family company, in 1902. As general and operating manager he designed new machinery, and among other advances, developed gunpowder for U.S. large-caliber guns. He was forced out of the company after a family stock dispute in 1915; the family feud continued in later years as he sought to thwart his relatives' political careers. After World War I he founded Nemours Trading Corporation, an exporter of American goods to Europe that lost millions of dollars during the depression of the 1930s. Later business interests included ownership of the Wilmington Morning News (1911–20), Delaware and Florida banks, and real estate. Late in life he was a prominent advocate of social security.