Éleuthère Irénée du Pont Improves American Gunpowder

Éleuthère Irénée du Pont Improves American Gunpowder

Éleuthère Irénée du Pont was a wealthy Frenchman who came to the United States to escape the Reign of Terror.

Du Pont decided to improve on America’s crappy gunpowder and in doing so create one of the nation’s largest corporations.

Éleuthère Irénée du Pont

Earlier this week I wrote about Constitution signer Jacob Broom and how he sold off property to the du Pont Family.

This sparked by interest in du Pont himself and though I should expand on the earlier article by writing his story.

Spoiler alert: he buys land from Jacob Broom and starts a very successful company. His means of arriving in that situation is still a tale that needs to be told.


Éleuthère Irénée du Pont was born a second-generation nobleman in France. His father was elevated to nobility due to his renown as an economist and assistance of King Louis XVI.

Éleuthère was given the best of education, becoming an expert in chemistry and explosives. For a time, he was employed in making gunpowder for the French Army.

Additionally, du Pont worked in his father’s print shop, where they published books and newspapers that promoted republican ideals.

French Revolution

Unfortunately, the French Revolution did not work out well for the du Ponts.

Originally, they were welcomed into the revolutionary fold but, as with most moderates during the French Revolution, the rebels turned on them.

Éleuthère and his father assisted in sneaking King Louis out of the country, as they though executing him was simply the wrong move. The other revolutionaries didn’t love this and the older du Pont was arrested. He would have been guillotined had not the Reign of Terror come to an end.

Shortly after this, the family’s printing presses were destroyed. The du Ponts gave up of Revolutionary France and decided to immigrate.


The du Ponts had become very close with Thomas Jefferson while he was in Paris and due much to this relationship they chose to relocate to the United States.

Though most of the du Pont family moved to New York City, Éleuthère decided to move to Maryland. He had quickly noticed how poor the American gunpowder was (making the winning of the American Revolution that much more impressive).

Due to this, du Pont purchased land and mills from Jacob Broom (told you this was coming) and began to build his business. Due to the high quality of du Pont’s powder, he quickly began making a tidy profit. Over the years, E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (commonly known today simply as du Pont) expanded into other chemistry fields and today is one of America’s wealthiest corporations.

To read about other early industrialists, check out my articles on John Stevens III and Paul Revere. Yes, that Paul Revere.

If you’d like to learn more about the du Pont Family, Pick up ‘Behind the Nylon Curtain’ from the affiliate link below. Though be warned, it goes well beyond the end of the American Revolution.

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