Eleuthère-Irénée du Pont – 1771-1834
Born into a prominent French family, E.I. du Pont learned the explosives business at the French gunpowder works before he immigrated to America in 1800. He found American gunpowder to be of low quality and high price, and built a gunpowder plant in 1802 near Wilmington, Delaware, producing a much-improved product, which made him a fortune, especially during the War of 1812. This led to the founding of E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. in 1833, which became one of the world’s great chemical manufacturers in areas ranging from explosives to plastics.