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Pierre Samuel du Pont (1870 – April 4, 1954) was an American entrepreneur, businessman, philanthropist, and a member of the influential du Pont family. He was president of E.I.du Pont Nemours and Company from 1915 to 1919 and served on the board of directors until 1940.
He served on GM's board of directors from 1915 to 1928, and he served as president of GM from 1915-1920.
Among other notable accomplishments, he was one of the founding board of directors of the Empire State Building, which opened in 1931.
Du Pont was born on the family farm near Wilmington, Delaware, and was named after his great-grandfather, Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours, in January, 1870. He was the eldest of three sons born to Lammot du Pont and Mary Belin.
His great-grandfather, and namesake, was a French economist (who had been given the ennobling suffix "de Nemours" after the Constituent Assembly's election) and patriarch of the du Pont family. Du Pont de Nemours immigrated to America with relatives, including his son, Eleuthère Du Pont, who founded the DuPont company in 1802, and whose descendants would make one of the richest American business dynasties of the ensuing two centuries, including his grandfather, Eleuthère Irénée du Pont.
In 1884, his father was killed in an industrial fire. He served as the family's patriarch as the eldest son of ten children. His siblings, also his older sisters, referred to him as "Daddy" or "Dad" for the remainder of their lives.
In 1890, he attended MIT and earned a chemistry degree.
He was a bachelor before age 45. Alice Belin (1872–1944), Henry Belin Jr.'s daughter, was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, on October 16, 1915, after the death of his mother. The wedding took place on 400 Park Avenue, the home of her brother F. Lammot Belin, because Pennsylvania prohibitions first cousins from marrying. They had no children at the time.
On June 23, 1944, his wife died at their Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. Du Pont died ten years later on April 4, 1954 at the Memorial Hospital in Wilmington, Delaware. He was buried in the Du Pont family cemetery near the Brandywine River after a funeral service at Longwood.
Du Pont served as president of the Delaware board of education in the early 1920s. At the time, a state statute barred the use of federal funds raised from white taxpayers to benefit the state's schools for black students. du Pont donated four million dollars to build eighty-six new school buildings, appalled by the poor condition of the black schools.
Du Pont, the founder of the Association Against the Prohibition Amendment in 1927, became president of the Association Against the Prohibition Amendment. He and his family were among the major contributors to the group.
Du Pont is best known for introducing Longwood Gardens, with its lush gardens, fountains, and conservatory to the public. Its construction was inspired by his worldwide travels, exploring the world's greatest gardens.
In his honor, the former P. S. Dupont High School in Wilmington, which now resembles a middle school, has been named in his honor. Du Pont Hall, a University of Delaware building, has been named for him. The College of Engineering's headquarters and laboratories are located within. Du Pont also contributed $900,000 to the construction and establishment of Kennett High School in 1924, which is equal to more than $12.8 million today.
He joined Eleutherian Mills on the Brandywine River after graduating from MIT in 1890.
At the Carney's Point plant in New Jersey, he and his cousin Francis Gurney du Pont developed the first American smokeless powder in 1892.
He spent the majority of the 1890s working with the Johnstown, Pennsylvania, company owned by DuPont (mainly by T. Coleman du Pont). Arthur Moxham, the company's president, taught him how to deal with money from his bank account. In 1899, when Unsatisfied with DuPont's leadership, he resigned and took over the Johnson Company. John J. Raskob, a long-serving industry and personal friend of the two firms in 1901, while du Pont was supervising the liquidation of Johnson Company assets in Lorain, Ohio, he hired John J. Raskob as a private secretary, starting a long and profitable career as well as a personal friendship between the two companies.
After the death of Eugene I. du Pont, he and his cousins, Alfred I. du Pont and T. Coleman du Pont, bought E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company in 1902 in order to keep the company in family hands. They began to buy smaller powder companies. Pierre du Pont served as treasurer, executive vice president, and acting president before 1914, during Coleman du Pont's illness.
Coleman's stock was bought by a company headed by Pierre in 1915, which also included strangers. Alfred was chastised and sued Pierre for breach of trust. The case was settled in Pierre's favour four years ago, but Alfred's friendship soured him greatly, and no one spoke after that.
Pierre was president of DuPont until 1919. Pierre gave the DuPont company a modern management system and modern accounting policies, as well as the emphasis on return on investment primary. The business soared during World War I due to early payments on Allied munition contracts. In addition, he has established many other DuPont interests in other industries.
He appeared on the front page of Time magazine's January 31, 1927 issue. He was elected an honorary member of the Delaware Society of the Cincinnati the same year. He was elected as a director of the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1930.
Du Pont was elected a director of GM in 1915. where he was instrumental in the company's growth and was praised for investing in the company as well as supporting John J. Raskob's call for DuPont to invest in the automobile industry.
He succeeded William C. Durant and his chairmanship until 1923, when he was succeeded by Alfred P. Sloan Jr. in reaction to GM President Alfred Sloan's disagreement with Raskob over Raskob's presence on the Democratic National Committee. GM was the world's biggest corporation when du Pont resigned from its board of directors.
Du Pont was one of the first of many of his family members to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Irénée du Pont (1897) and Lammot du Pont II (1901), both his younger brothers, graduated from MIT. Throughout the years, Du Pont, his associates, and the DuPont corporation were generous benefactors who helped establish numerous endowments, fellowships, scholarships, and faculty chairs for the university. When MIT moved to Cambridge, Pierre, T. Coleman du Pont and Charles Hayden donated $215,000 to house the Department of Mining, Engineering, and Metallurgical Research (now the Department of Materials Science and Engineering).
Du Pont served on numerous boards and committees, and from 1916 to 1951, he was a member of the MIT Corporation, the university's board of trustees. When he stepped down from the board in 1951, he and his brother Lammot were given the distinction of being named a life member emeritus.
The DuPont MIT Alliance (DMA) was established in 2000. The DuPont corporation contributed $55 million to the university to fund up to 20 different research projects over the next ten years.
In 1940, Pierre retired from DuPont's board. He served on the Delaware State Board of Education and donated millions to Delaware's public schools, as well as funding the renovation of Delaware's dilapidated Negro schools.
Genealogy of the Du Pont family, a genealogical research book published in 1943, was published in 1943.