Du Pont, Eleuthère Irénée (dō pŏnt, Fr. ālötĕrˈ ērānāˈ dü pôN) [key], 1772–1834, American gunpowder manufacturer, b. Paris, France; son of Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours. At the age of 17, Irénée entered the royal gunpowderworks, where Lavoisier taught him the trade. After Lavoisier was forced to leave the plant, Irénée began managing (1791) his father's printing house, where the Du Ponts published counterrevolutionary pamphlets. When the Jacobins suppressed the printing house, Irénée and his family left for the United States to set up a trading and land company. Although he met disillusionment upon reaching (1800) the United States, Irénée soon formulated plans to improve the quality of American gunpowder. In July, 1802, he began constructing his powderworks on Brandywine Creek, near Wilmington, Del. Despite lack of capital, Irénée continuously improved his gunpowder and plant and, within a few years, developed an extensive business (now E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company). His sales were augmented during the War of 1812 and the years following, but his immense debts and family obligations constantly plagued him. He was appointed (1822) a director of the Bank of the United States, and his judgment on developing industries and encouraging agriculture was often sought.
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