Pierre S. du Pont

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Pierre S. du Pont
Born Pierre Samuel du Pont
(1870-01-15)January 15, 1870
Wilmington, Delaware,
United States
Died April 4, 1954(1954-04-04) (aged 84)
Kennett Square, Pennsylvania,
United States
Residence Longwood Gardens
Education Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Occupation Businessman, philanthropist
Board member of
E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company
General Motors
Spouse(s) Alice Belin
Children None
Parents Lammot du Pont & Mary Belin
Relatives Siblings: Irénée du Pont
Lammot du Pont II

Pierre Samuel du Pont (January 15, 1870 – April 4, 1954) was an American entrepreneur. He was president of the E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company from 1915 to 1919, and served on its Board of Directors until 1940. He also managed General Motors from 1915-1920, became GM's president in 1920,[1] and served on GM's Board of Directors until 1928.[2]


Du Pont was named after his great-great-grandfather, Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours, a French economist (who had been granted the ennobling suffix "de Nemours" after election to the Constituent Assembly). That ancestor emigrated to America with relatives including his son, Eleuthère Irénée du Pont, who founded the DuPont company in 1802, and whose descendants would form one of the richest American business dynasties of the ensuing two centuries.

Early life and education[edit]

Pierre S. du Pont was born January 15, 1870 in Wilmington, Delaware, a son of Lammot du Pont. He graduated with a degree in chemistry from MIT in 1890 and became assistant superintendent at Brandywine Mills.

Early business career[edit]

He and his cousin Francis Gurney du Pont developed the first American smokeless powder in 1892 at the Carney's Point plant in New Jersey.

Most of the 1890s he spent working with the management at a steel firm partly owned by DuPont (primarily by T. Coleman du Pont), the Johnson Street Rail Company in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Here he learned to deal with money from the company's president, Arthur Moxham. In 1899, unsatisfied with how conservative DuPont's management was, he quit and took over the Johnson Company. In 1901, while du Pont was supervising the liquidation of Johnson Company assets in Lorain, Ohio, he employed John J. Raskob as a private secretary, beginning a long and profitable business and personal relationship between the two.

Expansion of DuPont[edit]

He and his cousins, Alfred I. du Pont and T. Coleman du Pont, purchased E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company in 1902, in order to keep the company in family hands, after the death of its president, Eugene I. du Pont. They set about buying smaller powder firms. Until 1914, during Coleman du Pont's illness, Pierre du Pont served as treasurer, executive vice-president, and acting president. In 1915, a group headed by Pierre, which included outsiders, bought Coleman's stock. Alfred was offended and sued Pierre for breach of trust. The case was settled in Pierre's favor four years later, but his relationship with Alfred suffered greatly, and they did not speak after that.

Pierre served as DuPont's president until 1919. Pierre gave the DuPont company a modern management structure and modern accounting policies and made the concept of return on investment primary. During World War I, the company grew very quickly due to advance payments on Allied munition contracts. He also established many other DuPont interests in other industries.

In 1927 he was elected an honorary member of the Delaware Society of the Cincinnati.

[***next paragraph seems out of place, and should instead be part of another person's bio? (Hearst?)]

The decision of the United States Congress to pass the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 was based on poorly attended hearings and reports based on questionable studies.[3][4] In 1936 the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) noticed an increase of reports of people smoking marijuana, which further increased in 1937. The Bureau drafted a legislative plan for Congress seeking a new law, and the head of the FBN, Harry J. Anslinger, ran a campaign against marijuana.[5][6] Newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst's empire of newspapers used the "yellow journalism" pioneered by Hearst to demonize the cannabis plant and spread a public perception that there were connections between cannabis and violent crime.[7] Several scholars argue that the goal was to destroy the hemp industry,[8][9][10] largely as an effort of Hearst, Andrew Mellon and the Du Pont family.[8][10] They argue that with the invention of the decorticator hemp became a very cheap substitute for the wood pulp that was used in the newspaper industry.[8][11] They also believe that Hearst felt that this was a threat to his extensive timber holdings. There are also facts that contradict that Hearst had a financial interest in banning the cultivation of hemp. Hearst newspapers had very big problems with debts to Canadian suppliers of paper. They used wood as raw material. If there emerged an alternative raw material, it would have lowered the price of the paper needed to print Hearst's many newspapers.[12] However, in 1937, Hearst's newspapers were the only Hearst assets making money; Hearst's mining and forest products holdings had been ordered into reorganization by bankruptcy courts.[13] Mellon was Secretary of the Treasury, as well as the wealthiest man in America, and had invested heavily in nylon, DuPont's new synthetic fiber. He considered nylon's success to depend on its replacement of the traditional resource, hemp.[8][14][15][16][17][18][19][20] According to other researchers, DuPont had more pressing issues than competition from hemp in the mid-1930s: to finish the product (nylon) before its German competitors, to start plants for nylon with much larger capacity, etc.[21]

General Motors[edit]

du Pont was a significant figure in the success of General Motors, building a sizeable personal investment in the company as well as supporting Raskob's proposal for DuPont to invest in the automobile company. Pierre du Pont resigned the chairmanship of GM in response to GM President Alfred Sloan's dispute with Raskob over Raskob's involvement with the Democratic National Committee. When Pierre retired from its Board of Directors, GM was the largest company in the world.

Retirement and legacy[edit]

Pierre retired from DuPont's board in 1940. He also served on the Delaware State Board of Education and donated millions to Delaware's public schools, financing the replacement of Delaware's dilapidated Negro schools.

He died April 4, 1954.

A building at the University of Delaware, Du Pont Hall, is named in his honor. It houses the offices and laboratories for the College of Engineering.[22]

Pierre is famous for opening his personal estate, Longwood Gardens, with its beautiful gardens, fountains, and conservatory, to the public. Pierre was a bachelor until age 45. He married his cousin Alice Belin in 1915 after the death of his mother, and had no children.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "1918 DuPont, GM & Cars". du Pont. Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  2. ^ "1915 Pierre S. du Pont". du Pont. Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  3. ^ "The Marihuana Tax Act". Druglibrary.org. Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
  4. ^ "The Marihuana Tax Act, Reports". Druglibrary.org. Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
  5. ^ "Harry J. Anslinger, U. S. Commissioner of Narcotics and Will Oursler : The Murderers, the story of the narcotic gangs, Pages: 541-554, 1961". Hempology.org. 1945-04-26. Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
  6. ^ "Additional Statement of H.J. Anslinger, Commissioner of Narcotics". Druglibrary.org. Retrieved 2006-03-25. 
  7. ^ Charles H. Whitebread and Richard J. Bonnie (1972). The Marihuana Consensus: A History of American Marihuana Prohibition. University of Virginia Law School. 
  8. ^ a b c d French, Laurence; Manzanárez, Magdaleno (2004). NAFTA & neocolonialism: comparative criminal, human & social justice. University Press of America. p. 129. ISBN 978-0-7618-2890-7. 
  9. ^ Earlywine, 2005: p.24
  10. ^ a b Peet, 2004: p. 55
  11. ^ Sterling Evans (2007). Bound in twine: the history and ecology of the henequen-wheat complex for Mexico and the American and Canadian Plains, 1880-1950. Texas A&M University Press. p. 27. ISBN 978-1-58544-596-7. 
  12. ^ David Nasaw:The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst, September 6, 2001
  13. ^ http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,770685,00.html
  14. ^ Evans, Sterling, ed. (2006). The Borderlands of the American and Canadian Wests: Essays on Regional History of the Forty-Ninth Parallel. University of Nebraska Press. p. 199. ISBN 978-0-8032-1826-0. 
  15. ^ Gerber, Rudolph Joseph (2004). Legalizing marijuana: drug policy reform and prohibition politics. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-275-97448-0. 
  16. ^ Earleywine, Mitchell (2005). Understanding marijuana: a new look at the scientific evidence. Oxford University Press. p. 231. ISBN 978-0-19-518295-8. 
  17. ^ Robinson, Matthew B. & Scherlen, Renee G. (2007). Lies, damned lies, and drug war statistics: a critical analysis of claims made by the office of National Drug Control Policy. SUNY Press. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-7914-6975-0. 
  18. ^ Rowe, Thomas C. (2006). Federal narcotics laws and the war on drugs: money down a rat hole. Psychology Press. p. 26. ISBN 978-0-7890-2808-2. 
  19. ^ Sullivan, Larry E. et al., ed. (2005). Encyclopedia of Law Enforcement: Federal. SAGE. p. 747. ISBN 978-0-7619-2649-8. 
  20. ^ Lusane, Clarence (1991). Pipe dream blues: racism and the war on drugs. South End Press. pp. 37–38. ISBN 978-0-89608-410-0. 
  21. ^ "David A. Hounshell and John Kenly Smith Jr: The Nylon drama, Invention and Technology (Fall, 1988), Cambridge University Press, page 40-55". Invention.smithsonian.org. Retrieved 2011-05-26. 
  22. ^ "Du Pont Hall History". University of Delaware. Retrieved 2009-07-20. 

External links[edit]

Business positions
Preceded by
Thomas Neal
Chairman General Motors
Succeeded by
Lammot du Pont II
Preceded by
William C. Durant
President General Motors
Succeeded by
Alfred P. Sloan, Jr.