1889 Eugene du Pont
Eugene du Pont (1840-1902) presided over the earliest steps in the transformation of DuPont from a family partnership to a modern corporation. The son of Alexis I. and grandson of E.I. du Pont, he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and joined the family business in 1861. He started as an assistant to Lammot du Pont in the Brandywine Mills laboratory and soon gained a reputation as a black powder expert.
In 1886 Eugene filed two patent applications, one for a gunpowder press and the other for a new variety of powder known as brown prismatic. Eugene became a junior partner at DuPont in 1864. With the autocratic Henry du Pont as senior partner, however, none of the junior partners had much authority, but when Henry died in 1889 Eugene agreed to take the position.
As senior partner, Eugene commissioned the construction of a new, spacious office building in Wilmington that was equipped with a relatively new invention, the telephone. Eugene also stepped up DuPont’s involvement in the dynamite industry, helping form the Eastern Dynamite Company in 1895. In 1899 Eugene supervised the transformation of the old family partnership into a corporation, E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company. His death left DuPont bereft of leadership until the three young cousins, Alfred, Coleman and Pierre du Pont stepped in to implement even greater changes.