du Pont, Coleman

du Pont, (Thomas) Coleman

(1863–1930) capitalist, U.S. senator; born in Louisville, Ky. He started work in his father's Kentucky coal mines after graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and developed Central Coal & Iron Company into a major business. After a brief period managing a steel company, he bought a Pennsylvania street railway company and constructed and managed street railways. With his cousins, Alfred and Pierre du Pont, he purchased the family's Delaware-based explosives company and assumed its presidency (1902–15). He masterminded the takeover of some one hundred competitors and the reorganization of the business into a huge holding company, E. I. du Pont de Nemours Company of New Jersey. The company became the sole U.S. producer of military gunpowder and the country's dominant explosives manufacturer; in 1907 the government successfully sued du Pont for antitrust violations. Having sold his stake in the firm in 1914, he shifted his business interests to real estate, insurance, and hotels; he owned among other hotels, the McAlpin and Waldorf-Astoria in New York City and the Willard in Washington, D.C., and built the Equitable Life Building, New York, then the city's largest office building. He sat in the U.S. Senate (Rep., Del.; 1921–28).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.