Pierre Samuel Pont de Nemours

Pierre Samuel Pont de Nemours

French economist and political activist
Date of Birth: 14.12.1739
Country: France

  1. Biography of Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours
  2. Early Career
  3. Political Involvement and Exile

Biography of Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours

Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours was a French economist and political figure, known for his affiliation with the physiocratic school. He was born into a Huguenot family in Paris, with his father being a watchmaker and his mother belonging to a noble family from Burgundy. Due to conflicts with his father, who wanted him to continue the family tradition and become a tradesman, du Pont left home at an early age. In 1766, he married a noblewoman named Nicole-Charlotte le Duc de Renkur and they had two sons, Victor-Marie and Eleuthère-Irénée, who later became successful entrepreneurs.

Early Career

In his youth, du Pont sought patronage among the courtiers and managed to gain the favor of François Quesnay, personal physician to Madame de Pompadour and a renowned liberal economist. Under Quesnay's influence, du Pont wrote early economic works that gained recognition from Voltaire and Turgot. In 1767, he published his mature work, "On the Origin and Progress of a New Science," which was the most comprehensive and systematic presentation of physiocratic doctrine. That same year, he also began editing the journal "Ephémérides du citoyen" and a two-volume collection of Quesnay's selected works. Du Pont's advocacy for physiocracy, which promoted low taxes and the removal of trade barriers, directly influenced the views of Adam Smith.

Political Involvement and Exile

At the beginning of the French Revolution, du Pont supported it and was elected to the National Constituent Assembly that preceded the Convention. To distinguish himself from fellow deputies with the same surname, he adopted the additional surname de Nemours, named after the community that elected him. By 1792, du Pont's views aligned with the conservative flank of the political spectrum. During the August 10 uprising, he personally defended Tuileries Palace and the royal family alongside his son, Eleuthère-Irénée, against the revolutionary mob. As the Jacobin regime neared its end, he was condemned to death as an "enemy of the homeland." However, he was saved from the guillotine by the Thermidorian Reaction.

During the September 4, 1797 coup, du Pont's house was besieged by a mob. Managing to escape death once again, he fled to the United States with his entire family. He swiftly integrated into American politics, aligning himself with Thomas Jefferson's supporters. From 1802 to 1803, during Jefferson's presidency, du Pont played a significant role in organizing the purchase of Louisiana from France.