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It is difficult to overstate the influence on American history and modern life of the DuPont corporation, yet the company nearly failed during its early years. Analysis of family and business documents reveals multiple forces at play, including the French Revolution, American business law, but also issues of religion and social obligation not previously identified. Returning to the archival record illuminates underlying motivations of the founders, along with purposes served by persistent mythologies later constructed around the family and corporation.

Julia Luisa Abramson is Associate Professor of French and Office of the Vice President for Research and Partnerships Faculty Fellow at the University of Oklahoma. She has published the monographs Learning from Lying: Paradoxes of the Literary Mystification (University of Delaware Press) and Food Culture in France (Greenwood Press) and has published a range of articles including in Contemporary French Civilization, Finance and Society, Common-place, and Sociologie et sociétés, and with L’Harmattan and Oxford University Press. Her new book project foregrounds interactions of finance with society to rethink Enlightenment culture and reveal surprising parallels with present-day dilemmas.

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