Escaping from the French Revolution, Eleuthere Irenee duPont and
his family arrived in America in January 1800. Two years later, he founded the E.I.
duPont de Nemours Powder Company along the Brandywine River near Wilmington. E.I. duPont
reinvested his profits into the fast-growing company. By the 1860s the DuPont Company
became the major producer of gunpowder for the United States military, supplying 40 to 50
percent of the powder used by northern troops during the Civil War. So critical was
DuPonts product that the Union stationed several regiments near the powder mills to
protect them from the Confederate army. Following the war, the DuPont Company continued to
expand and manufacture new products. By the turn of the century, DuPont products included
dynamite and "smokeless" powder.
The E.I. du Pont de Nemours Company entered the twentieth century as one of the premier
manufacturers of explosives in the United States. After being reorganized under the
leadership of Pierre S., Alfred I., and T. Coleman du Pont, the company purchased several
smaller companies. In 1912, the U.S. Justice Department successfully argued that these
acquisitions had created a monopoly and ordered DuPont to divest some of its interests. As
a result, Hercules and Atlas chemical companies were formed and DuPont began looking for
new areas in which to expand.
Carothers, working at the DuPont Experimental Station, discovered Fiber 66,
the first synthetic fiber, in 1935. Because of its strength and elasticity, nylon made
excellent hosiery. During World War II, manufacturers used it in hundreds of new products.
The textile industry still uses nylon in many ways. That was only
the first of many synthetic fibers developed by DuPont.