Pierre du Pont de Nemours (1739-1817)

Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours, of Paris; Publisher & Political Economist

He was born in Paris, the son of a Huguenot watchmaker. He became acquainted with a group of Liberals at the French Court of Louis XVI who were dedicated to economic and agricultural reform and by the 1760s his writings had caught the attention of the likes of Turgot and Voltaire. The King appointed him Inspector-General of Commerce and in 1783 he helped negotiate the Treaty of Paris that saw the United States recognized as an independent country. During this time he became friends with Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson who called him "one of the very great men of the age" and "the ablest man in France". He was ennobled in 1784, adding the suffix "de Nemours".

He supported the French Revolution and served as President of the National Constituent Assembly but he and his son, Éleuthère, were among those who physically defended the King and Marie Antoinette from a mob that stormed the Tuileries Palace in 1792. Condemned to the guillotine during the Reign of Terror, he was only spared when Robespierre was executed in 1798. In France, he lived between Paris and the Domaine du Bois-des-Fossés at Chevannes in Burgundy, near to the home at Bignon-Mirabeau of his great friend, the Comte de Mirabeau. In 1799, he and his sons emigrated to Philadelphia in the States. At Wilmington, his son, Éleuthère, manufactured gunpowder and established what is now one of the oldest and most successful corporations in American history.
Contributed by Mark Meredith on 04/02/2021 and last updated on 24/01/2023.