Historical records matching Pierre "Pete" Samuel du Pont, IV
About Pierre "Pete" Samuel du Pont, IV
Pierre Samuel "Pete" du Pont, IV (born January 22, 1935) is an American lawyer and politician from Rockland, in New Castle County, Delaware, near Wilmington. He is a member of the Republican Party, who served three terms as U.S. Representative from Delaware and was the 68th governor of Delaware.
Early life and family:
A member of the famous and powerful Du Pont family, du Pont was born in Wilmington, Delaware, the son of Pierre S. III and Jane Holcomb du Pont, and great nephew of Pierre S. du Pont, the developer of Longwood Gardens. After an education at the Phillips Exeter Academy, Princeton University, and Harvard Law School, he served in the U.S. Naval Reserve (Seabees) from 1957 until 1960. He is married to Elise Ravenel Wood and has four children, Elise, Pierre S., V., Benjamin Franklin, and Eleuthère Irénée.
Professional and political career:
From 1963 until 1970 du Pont was employed by E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. In 1968 he was elected to the 1969-70 session of the Delaware House of Representatives. He seriously considered a bid for the United States Senate seat won in 1972 by Democratic U.S. Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr., but realized he faced a primary election against former U.S. Representative Harry G. Haskell, Jr. He bowed to the desire of Republican leaders, including U.S. President Richard M. Nixon, to have a reluctant incumbent U.S. Senator J. Caleb Boggs seek a third term.
U.S. House of Representatives:
In 1970 du Pont was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, defeating Democrat John D. Daniello, a New Castle County Councilman and labor leader. He won the elections to the U.S. House of Representatives three times, also defeating Democrats Norma Handloft in 1972 and University of Delaware professor James R. Soles in 1974. In Congress, du Pont supported an attempt to limit presidential authority through the War Powers Act of 1973, but was one of the last to remain loyal to U.S. President Richard M. Nixon during the impeachment process.
Governor of Delaware:
Du Pont did not seek another term in the U.S. House of Representatives as he was elected Governor of Delaware in 1976, defeating incumbent Democratic Governor Sherman W. Tribbitt. He was elected to a second term as Governor in 1980, defeating Democratic State House leader, William J. Gordy, and served two terms from January 18, 1977 until January 15, 1985.
Du Pont's two terms as Governor were the major divide in the modern history of the state. Following a desperate initial confrontation with the Democratic Delaware General Assembly over the budget, both du Pont and the Delaware General Assembly developed the consensus approach to decision making so characteristic of Delaware politics to this day. As a result of this cooperation, du Pont signing into law two income tax reduction measures and a constitutional amendment that restrained future tax increases and limited government spending. The Wilmington News Journal praised these policies, saying that "he revived [the] business climate and set the stage for [Delaware's] prosperity." In 1979, he founded the nonprofit "Jobs for Delaware Graduates," an employment counseling and job placement program for high school seniors not bound for college. This program was the model for other programs currently functioning in many states and foreign countries.
Du Pont helped establish the credit card industry in Delaware. With the cooperation of the leadership of both parties and many others in state and local government, the Financial Center Development Act was passed, effective June 1, 1981. Intended to attract two New York state banks that would hire at least 1,000 employees, it actually brought over thirty banks to the state and created some 43,000 new finance related jobs. Wilmington and the rest of New Castle County, were completely transformed. Du Pont's action led the state away from its previous dependence on the chemical industry in general and the Du Pont Company, in particular.
With his term as Governor forced by law to end in 1985, du Pont, as the dominant Delaware politician, was widely expected by many to challenge for the U.S. Senate incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. But du Pont never found much interest in legislative politics and declined to run, preparing instead for a long shot bid for the Republican U.S. Presidential nomination in the United States presidential election, 1988. He declared his intent on September 16, 1986, before anyone else. Coincidentally, Biden was also seeking his party's nomination.
Running in earnest through the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, du Pont presented an unconventional, but thoughtful program. As described by Celia Cohen in her book, Only in Delaware, du Pont, "wanted to reform Social Security by offering recipients private savings options in exchange for a corresponding reduction in government benefits. He proposed phasing out government subsidies for farmers. He said he would wean welfare clients off their benefits and get them into the workforce, even if government had to provide entry level jobs to get them started. He suggested students be subjected to mandatory, random drug tests with those who flunked losing their drivers [sic] licenses."  These ideas were unusual enough that they left plenty of opportunity to paint du Pont as a novice and an oddity. In one of the debates future U.S. President George H. W. Bush made gentle fun of du Pont's first name, and called it "nutty to fool around with the Social Security system." After finishing next to last in the New Hampshire primary, du Pont left the race.
In 1984 du Pont served as Chairman of the Education Commission of the States, a national organization of educators dedicated to improving all facets of American education. He has also served as Chairman of the Hudson Institute from 1985 until 1987 and the National Review Institute from 1994 until 1997.
Presently, du Pont is the Chairman of the Board for the National Center for Policy Analysis, a think tank based in Dallas, Texas; he is a director with the Wilmington, Delaware law firm of Richards, Layton, and Finger, and he writes the monthly Outside the Box column for the Wall Street Journal newspaper.
Elections are held the first Tuesday after November 1st. Members of the General Assembly take office the second Tuesday of January. State Representatives have a two year term. The Governor takes office the third Tuesday of January and has a four year term. U.S. Representatives take office January 3rd and have a two year term.
Pierre "Pete" Samuel du Pont, IV's Timeline
January 22, 1935
Wilmington, New Castle County, Delaware, United States
January 14, 1964
The United States of America
Delaware, United States