Du Pont de Nemours( Pierre-Samuel)1739-1817
Du Pont de Nemours, the founder of the dynasty was initially called Dupont He was ennobled in 1784 and became Du Pont, adding de Nemours once elected to the Constituent Assembly in 1789.
Early in his career, he was the friend and disciple of Docteur Quesnay with whom he wrote his " Traité de la Physiocratie" (Treatise on Physiocracy) in 1768.
This economist became, from 1774 to 1776, one of the collaborators of Turgot, the Controller-General of Finance, and also Lavoisier's friend; during the first ministry of Necker he somewhat fell into disgrace. He was later called back by Vergenes and contributed to the drafting of the Treaty of 1783 acknowledging the lndependence of America.
In 1785 Du Pont participated with Lavoisier in the creation of the Agricultural Committee of Administration; later, he was one of the promoters of the Provincial Assemblies. At the "Estates General" ,as the representativeof the bailiwick of Nemours he was elected to the Constituent Assembly where he often intervened in economic or fiscal matters. He became Chairman of that Assembly in 1790.
Late in 1791, he found himseif unemployed and Lavoisier lent him some money to buy the printing press of the 'Hôtel de Bretonvilliers' previously used by the 'Farmer Generalship' which had just been done a way with.
He opposed the creation of 'Assignats'-paper money issued during the French Revolution), remained loyal to the King and was forced to go into hiding, during the Terror. He was part of the Council of Elders in 1795.
Pierre Samuel Du Pont de Nemours, imprisoned just before Thermidor, escaped the guillotine thanks to Robespiérre's downfall and led a quiet tife from 1793 to 1799. That year he left for the United States with his younger son Eleuthère-Irénée who would later create the present Du Pont de Nemours firm. The godson of Turgot, the latter, from his early years, had benefited from his father's friendship with Lavoisier who had taken him as a chemist in his powder-mill of Essonne. lt was the skills he had acquired there that made his fortune in the United States where he launched a gunpowder factory to avoid having to import that commodity from England.
We have a letter which he wrote to the Academy of Caen in 1766, before his election to our Society. This letter praises the merits of Political Economy and speaks of the social significance of the Academy in the highest terms.
(facsimile of the letter)
Thus Du Pont de Nemours offers us two works presenting his doctrine: la Science de l'Economie Politique which is 'in no way alien to your own studies'and justifies his gift with the following statement. 'it deserved all the attention you gave it, in your own special way. The privilege of enlightening men, in every field, is the worthiest right of illustrons societies such as yours, which have devoted themselves to the education of mankind.