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du Pont, Eleuthère Irénéelocked

(24 June 1771–31 October 1834)
  • Kenneth H. Williams


du Pont, Eleuthère Irénée (24 June 1771–31 October 1834), industrialist, was born in Paris, France, the son of Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours, a political economist, and Nicole Charlotte Marie Louise Le Dée de Raucourt. The boy’s godfather, Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, who became comptroller general of finances under Louis XVI, suggested the name in honor of peace and liberty. Du Pont was raised on his father’s estate, “Bois des Fossés,” near Egreville, where he responded with little enthusiasm to a series of tutors who attempted to educate him. The one subject that did interest him was explosives, and at age thirteen he prepared a report on gunpowder for his father. In the fall of 1785 he entered the Collège Royal in Paris, and two years later Antoine Lavoisier, a noted chemist and friend of Irénée’s father, accepted the youth as a student in the Régie des Poudres et Salpetres, the government agency for the manufacture of gunpowder. After a brief apprenticeship, du Pont took a position at the government powder works at Essonnes, but when Lavoisier left to become one of the commissioners of the national treasury, du Pont quit in 1791 to manage the large publishing house that his father had recently opened in Paris....

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