The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Du Pont de Nemours, Pierre Samuel (1739–1817)

  • Peter Groenewegen
Reference work entry


Economic writer and editor. Born in Paris, he trained for various occupations including medicine and watch making. A pamphlet on taxation (1763) brought him in contact with Mirabeau and Quesnay, under whose guidance he wrote a work on the grain trade (1764). He also befriended Turgot, with whom he diligently corresponded until Turgot’s death. From 1766 to late 1768 he edited the Journal de l’Agriculture in the Physiocratic cause, then the Ephémérides until 1772. During this period he also published Quesnay’s economics under the title Physiocratie (Du Pont 1767) and summarized Mercier (1767), adding material on the history of the new science (Du Pont 1768). From the early 1770s he developed a career as economic adviser through correspondence with the King of Sweden and the Margrave of Baden; the correspondence with the latter was subsequently published (Knies 1892). In 1774 he was appointed tutor to the Polish royal family. On becoming contrôleur-général, Turgot required his friend’s assistance and Du Pont was back in Paris by early 1775. Financial compensation for loss of his royal tutorship enabled him to purchase landed property near Nemours. Turgot’s dismissal from office in 1776 did not end Du Pont’s career in giving official economic advice; a highlight of which is his influence on the 1786 Anglo–French Commercial Treaty. Du Pont was politically active in the French Revolution, serving from 1789 as Deputy for Nemours in the National Assembly and becoming its President during 1790; in 1794 to 1797 he was imprisoned for short periods. He migrated to the United States in 1799 but returned to Paris in 1802. From 1803 to 1810 he served in the Paris Chamber of Commerce, and in addition edited Turgot’s works (Du Pont 1808–11). In 1815 he returned to the United States and settled in Delaware, the town where his son Irenée had started the gunpowder factory from which the Du Pont chemical conglomerate developed, and where he died in 1817. Du Pont is now mainly remembered as a major propagator of Physiocracy, an early historian of economics, a pioneer in the use of diagrams in economic argument and, most importantly, as the editor of Quesnay and Turgot, whose works he helped to preserve. An assessment of his work as economist needs to take all facets of his career into account, as the one full-length attempt at this (McLain 1977) has in fact done.


Advisers Assignats Du Pont de Nemours, P. S. Excise taxes Mathematical economics Mercier de la Rivière, P.-P. Mirabeau, V. R., Marquis de Physiocracy Quesnay, F. Silver Turgot, A. R. J 

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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Groenewegen
    • 1
  1. 1.