Irénée du Pont

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Irénée du Pont
Du Pont c. 1919
Born(1876-12-21)December 21, 1876
DiedDecember 19, 1963(1963-12-19) (aged 86)
EducationMassachusetts Institute of Technology
TitlePresident of DuPont
SpouseIrene du Pont[1]
Children9, including Crawford Greenewalt and Colgate Darden
Parent(s)Lammot du Pont
Mary Belin
RelativesPierre S. du Pont and Lammot du Pont II (brothers)

Irénée du Pont I (December 21, 1876 – December 19, 1963) was an American businessman, president of the DuPont company, head of the Du Pont trust and Nazi sympathizer.[2][3][4]

Early life and education[edit]

Irénée du Pont I was born on December 21, 1876, in New Castle, Delaware, the son of Mary Belin and Lammot du Pont I, and a descendant of DuPont founder Éleuthère Irénée du Pont.[2] When he was eight years old, his father was killed in an explosion at the DuPont works in Repauno, New Jersey.[5]

He graduated from the William Penn Charter School in 1892 before attending Phillips Academy for a year, graduating in 1894, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1897. He received his Master's degree in Chemical Engineering from MIT a year after graduation.[6] While at MIT, he was a member of the Phi Beta Epsilon fraternity.


He worked for Fenn's Manufacturing Contracting Company for a number of years before he joined DuPont in 1903. du Pont first worked in the organization of a construction division in black powder, then worked as assistant treasurer, assistant to the general manager and manager of the developmental department. By the start of World War I he was the vice president, and he was named the chairman of the executive committee a year later.[5]

He was the elected president of DuPont from 1919 to 1925, where he oversaw the dismantling of the companies war productions from WWI.[6][2] At the time of his death he was credited with being responsible for the shift of the company from being solely dependent on explosives' to being a more diverse industrial company.[5] He oversaw DuPont at a time when eight workers were fatally poisoned with tetraethyl lead while he issued statements about there being "slight difficulties".[7]

He retired from the board of directors of DuPont in 1958 and was succeeded by his son Irénée du Pont Jr.[2][6]

Personal life[edit]

Du Pont married a second cousin of his, Irene Sophie du Pont, and had nine children with her: eight daughters and a son.[6]

He built a mansion in Varadero, Cuba, which he named Xanadu. In 1957, Fortune estimated his wealth at between $200 million and $400 million, making him one of the two richest members of the Du Pont family at that time, and one of the twenty richest Americans (see Wealthiest Americans (1957)).

Du Pont was a registered Republican, voted to repeal Prohibition and was an opponent of the New Deal Administration of President Franklin Roosevelt.[6] In the 1930s, he was a proponent of eugenics and racial superiority theories, was a founder of the American Liberty League,[8] and supported other right-wing political groups; du Pont was also a noted supporter of Adolf Hitler and had followed the eventual führer since the 1920s.[3][4] However, he was not the President of DuPont during the company's conglomeration with German companies and involvement in rearmament there after the rise of Nazism and well into World War II.[9]

He died on December 19, 1963, in Wilmington, Delaware.[2]


  1. ^ "Irénée du Pont, Jr.'s Interview (2014)". Voices of the Manhattan Project. Retrieved February 16, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Irenee du Pont Dies In Wilmington at 86. A Blunt Industrialist. Rayon and Cellophane. Bought by 3 Cousins Settlement in '62". New York Times. December 20, 1963. Retrieved 2012-11-28. Irénée du Pont, last survivor of three brothers who led E.I. du Pont de Nemours Co. from a comparatively small explosives manufacturing concern to a position as one of the world's largest diversified chemical companies, died here today. He was 86 years old. ...
  3. ^ a b Pauwels, Jacques R. (2003). Black, Edwin; Hofer, Walter; Reginbogin, Herbert R.; Billstein, Reinhold; Fings, Karola; Kugler, Anita; Levis, Nicholas (eds.). "Profits "Über Alles!" American Corporations and Hitler". Labour / Le Travail. 51: 223–249. doi:10.2307/25149339. ISSN 0700-3862. JSTOR 25149339. S2CID 142362839. Other precocious Hitler-admirers were press lord Randolph Hearst and Irénée Du Pont, head of the Du Pont trust, who according to Charles Higham, had already 'keenly followed the career of the future Fuhrer in the 1920s' and supported him financially.
  4. ^ a b Scott Christianson (2010). The Last Gasp: The Rise and Fall of the American Gas Chamber. University of California Press. p. 97. ISBN 9780520255623. Prior to 1926 DuPont was run by the U.S. industrialist Irénée du Pont, a strong supporter of eugenics, right-wing political groups, and IG Farben. ...
  5. ^ a b c "Irenee du Pont dies at 86; led diversification". The Morning News [Wilmington, Delaware]. 20 December 1963. pp. 1 & 30. Retrieved 5 April 2022.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Irénée du Pont Dies, Last of Brothers Who Led Company to Top". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 20 December 1963. p. 24. Retrieved 5 April 2022.
  7. ^ Bent, Silas (June 22, 1925). "Tetraethyl Lead Fatal to Makers". New York Times. New York.
  8. ^ The New York Times: "League is Formed to Scan New Deal, "Protect Rights'," August 23, 1934, accessed December 9, 2010
  9. ^ "U.S. Chemical Corporation DuPont Helped Nazi Germany Out of Ideology, Israeli Researcher Says". Haaretz. May 2, 2019.

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