Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours

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"Pierre S. DuPont" redirects here. For his descendent (1870–1954, father of Pierre S. du Pont III), see Pierre S. du Pont.
Pierre S. du Pont
Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours.jpg
Personal details
Born (1739-12-14)December 14, 1739
Paris, France
Died August 7, 1817(1817-08-07) (aged 77)
Greenville, Delaware, US
Spouse(s) Nicole Charlotte Marie Louise le Dée de Rencourt
Marie Françoise Robin de Poivre
Children Victor Marie du Pont
Eleuthère Irénée du Pont
Residence Chevannes,
Nemours, France

Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours (December 14, 1739 – August 7, 1817) was a French writer, economist, and government official. During the French Revolution, he, his two sons and their families emigrated to the United States.

His son Éleuthère Irénée du Pont was the founder of E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company. He was the patriarch and progenitor of one of the United States' most successful and wealthiest business dynasties of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Early life and family[edit]

Pierre du Pont was born December 14, 1739, the son of Samuel Dupont and Anne Alexandrine de Montchanin. His father was a watchmaker and French Protestant or Huguenot. His mother was a descendant of an impoverished minor noble family from Burgundy.

Du Pont married Nicole Charlotte Marie Louise le Dée de Rencourt in 1766, also of a minor noble family. They had two sons who survived to adulthood, including Éleuthère Irénée du Pont, the founder of E.I. duPont de Nemours and Company in the United States.

Ancien Régime[edit]

With a lively intelligence and high ambition, Pierre du Pont became estranged from his father, who wanted him to be a watchmaker. The younger man developed a wide range of acquaintances with access to the French court. Eventually he became the protégé of Dr. François Quesnay, the personal physician of Louis XV's mistress, Madame de Pompadour. Quesnay was the leader of a faction known as the économistes, a group of liberals at the court dedicated to economic and agricultural reforms. By the early 1760s du Pont's writings on the national economy had drawn the attention of intellectuals such as Voltaire and Turgot. His book Physiocracy, which advocated low tariffs and free trade among nations, deeply influenced Adam Smith of England.

In 1768 he took over from Nicolas Baudeau, editor of Ephémérides du citoyen ou Bibliothèque raisonnée des sciences morales et politiques. He published 'Observations sur l'Esclavage des Negresin Volume 6.

In 1774 he was invited by King Stanisław August Poniatowski of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to help organize that country's educational system.[1] The appointment to the Commission of National Education, with which he worked for several months, helped push his career forward, bringing him an appointment within the French government.[1]

He served as Inspector General of Commerce under Louis XVI. He helped negotiate the treaty of 1783, by which Great Britain formally recognized the independence of the United States, and arranged the terms of a commercial treaty signed by France and England in 1786. In 1784 Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours was made noble by "lettres patentes" (letters patent) from the king Louis XVI (a process known as noblesse de lettres).

French Revolution[edit]

Du Pont initially supported the French Revolution and served as president of the National Constituent Assembly. At this time, he added the name of the Nemours district south of Paris to his name to distinguish himself from other du Ponts in the Assembly.

He and his son Eleuthère Irénée du Pont were among those who physically defended Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette from a mob besieging the Tuileries Palace in Paris during the insurrection of August 10, 1792. Condemned to the guillotine during the Reign of Terror, du Pont's execution was pending when Robespierre fell on 9 thermidor an IV (July 27, 1794), and he was spared.

He married Françoise Robin on 5 vendémiaire an IV (September 27, 1795). (Robin was the daughter of Antoine Robin de Livet, a French aristocrat who lived in Lyon, and the widow of Pierre Poivre, the noted French administrator.) After du Pont's house was sacked by a mob during the events of 18 Fructidor V (September 4, 1797), he, his sons and their families emigrated to the United States in 1799.

They hoped (but failed) to found a model community of French exiles. In the United States, du Pont developed strong ties with industry and government, in particular with Thomas Jefferson.[citation needed] He engaged in informal diplomacy between the United States and France during the reign of Napoleon. He was the originator of an idea that eventually became the Louisiana Purchase, as a way to avoid French troops landing in New Orleans, and possibly sparking armed conflict with U.S. forces.[citation needed] Eventually, he would settle in the U.S. permanently; he died there in 1817.

His son, Éleuthère Irénée, founded a gunpowder manufacturing plant, based on his experience in France as a chemist. It would become one of the largest and most successful American corporations: E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company.

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • du Pont, Pierre S. (1942). Genealogy of the Du Pont Family 1739–1942. Wilmington: Hambleton Printing & Publishing. 
  • Dutton, William S. (1942). Du Pont, One Hundred and Fifty Years. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 

External links[edit]