07.08.

1817: Pierre Samuel du Pont – Founder of the Wealthiest Family in the World

1817: Pierre Samuel du Pont – Founder of the Wealthiest Family in the World
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons/DuPont's Orlon plant in Camden, South Carolina, c. 1930-1945

Story Highlights

  • Historical event
  • 7 August 1817
  • Pierre Samuel du Pont was born in Paris, roughly the peer of Marquis de Sade and Joseph-Ignace Guillotin. He and his family later migrated across the Atlantic Ocean to the USA, which was at that time still a young country. By the mid-19th century, their company had become the largest gunpowder manufacturer for the U.S. Army. Today the DuPont company is also the owner of the controversial Pioneer, the largest American hybrid seed manufacturer.

French citizen Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours died on this day in 1817.

His descendants became one of the wealthiest families in world history. Namely, according to the Guinness Book of Records, the heirs of the du Pont family amassed a total of some 150,000,000,000 U.S. dollars during the second half of the 20th century.

Most of it was based on the chemical industry, since their powerful DuPont company had developed a series of highly profitable products (nylon, neoprene, teflon, kevlar, freon, lycra, etc.).

Today the DuPont company is also the owner of the controversial Pioneer, the largest American hybrid seed manufacturer.

Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours was a Frenchman born in Paris in 1739. He was approximately the peer of Marquis de Sade and Joseph-Ignace Guillotin, the man whom the guillotine was named after.

It is interesting that, on the eve of the French Revolution, Pierre Samuel du Pont was one of the representatives at the Estates General (French: États-Généraux) which were convened by the king in 1789.

The French consider this session of the Estates General the beginning of the French Revolution (the Storming of the Bastille took place during the next month).

At the mentioned session, Pierre Samuel du Pont was a representative of the third estate, which fought for its rights towards the nobility and clergy.

In fact, Pierre Samuel du Pont was for a time the president of the Constituent Assembly, which had been declared during the Revolution.

However, Pierre Samuel du Pont was also one of the people who physically defended King Louis XVI when he was attacked by the rebelling French in 1792.

Du Pont was even sentenced to the guillotine during the time of the Reign of Terror, but Robespierre had already fallen from power before du Pont’s could be executed. Together with his family, he migrated across the Atlantic Ocean, to the USA.

Pierre Samuel du Pont spent the last 17 years of his life living in the USA. His family moved to the northernmost part of the state of Delaware, near the traffic route which led from Philadelphia towards Baltimore and Washington.

There he set the foundations for the future family wealth – a gunpowder factory – from which the chemical industry of the du Pont family would later grow. Namely, the du Ponts had noticed that the USA was behind Europe in gunpowder production.

By the mid-19th century, their company became the largest gunpowder manufacturer for the U.S. Army. During the American Civil War, they allegedly produced half of the gunpowder used by the Union army. Pierre Samuel du Pont died on this day in Delaware, aged 77.

 

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