du Pont de Nemours
Everyone knows the name of du Pont de Nemours, but where does this family come from ?
Pierre Samuel Dupont was born in Paris in 1739, and he became a printer. He was interested in a philosophical movement that was called "Les Physiocrates", who were convinced of the importance of an economy based on agriculture.
Now the family name "Dupont" happens to be as common in France as is the name "Smith" in the US.
He became a close associate of King Louis XVI, and gradually acquired a certain prestige. He wasn't very rich, but he became very active in French politics, and represented the city of Nemours in the French Assembly.
In 1774 he bought a farm of about 160 hectares in Bois-des-Fossés.
The French Revolution
The French Revolution (1789-1799) threw a spanner in the works, especially considering his political connections.
Both Samuel and his youngest son Eleuthère Irenée dreamed of establishing an agricultural colony in Virginia, near Washington, and they sought investors for their project.
On January 1, 1800 they arrived in New Jersey. However, this project flopped almost immediately, and the Dupont family moved to Delaware.
A Gunpowder Company
In 1802, Eleuthère Irenée Dupont founded a gunpowder company, since the French chemistry provided better results than the English formula's.
The economy, the mines, the railways and the army needed tons of gunpowder, and the company quickly grew to become the largest supplier in the USA.
The Dupont's became suppliers to several armies, first the French army, then the English army, and finally the American army...
The company went on to develop into the largest chemical company in the US.
The Rise of Du Pont
Now there was money in abundance, and gradually Eleuthère Irenée bought as much land as he could get his hands on for his first love, land and agriculture.
Fortune also brought along a name change, and Dupont became du Pont.
While he was at it, he immediately added the title "de Nemours", since his father had represented this city in France.
Eventually his full name became Monsieur Eleuthère Irenée du Pont de Nemours...