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Du Pont

Du Pont, U.S. industrial family of French origin. Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours (1739–1817), French economist and statesman, publicized the Physiocrats' doctrines. He was a reformist member of the Estates General (1789) and secretary general of the provisional government (1814). He fled to the United States in 1799 and, having returned to France in 1802, fled again in 1815. His son Éleuthère Irénée du Pont (1771–1834) established a gunpowder factory near Wilmington, Del., in 1802. The company expanded enormously during the Mexican, Crimean, and Civil wars under Eleuthère's son Henry du Pont (1812–89), who in 1872 organized the “Gunpowder Trust” that soon controlled 90% of explosives output. Alfred Irénée du Pont (1864–1935), Thomas Coleman du Pont (1863–1930), and Pierre Samuel du Pont (1870–1954) reorganized the firm in 1902, and after World War II it exploited the valuable dye-trust patents confiscated from Germany. Under Pierre's brothers Irénée du Pont (1876–1963) and Lamont du Pont (1880–1952) the firm built up an immensely powerful synthetic chemicals industry, developing rayon, cellophane, neoprene, nylon, and other materials.

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