du Pont, E. I.

du Pont, E. I. (Eleuthère Irénée)

(1771–1834) manufacturer; born in Paris, France. He worked under the great Lavoisier at France's royal gunpowder works, and with his father, the publisher and economist Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours. E. I. and several in the family left France in the wake of the Revolution and settled in the U.S.A. in 1799. His father joined them and they had plans to develop land in western Virginia; on the advice of Thomas Jefferson, they instead established a commission house in New York City, but that proved unprofitable. An avid hunter, E. I. had noticed the poor quality and high price of American gunpowder; by 1802 he had established a powder works at a site along Brandywine Creek near Wilmington, Del., and with machinery imported from France the E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company was selling gunpowder by 1804. The U.S. government was the major client and the War of 1812 firmly established the company. E. I. was a director of the Bank of the United States and was active in the American Colonization Society.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.