In Memoriam: Pete du Pont (1935–2021) - Intercollegiate Studies Institute

In Memoriam: Pete du Pont (1935–2021)

Pete du Pont and Robert Bork
Pete du Pont (left) speaking with Judge Robert Bork at an ISI dinner


On May 8, Pierre S. “Pete” du Pont IV died at the age of 86.

Du Pont was not only one of the most important political figures in ISI’s home state of Delaware. He was also a longtime friend of ISI, serving on our Board of Trustees and frequently appearing at ISI events.

Du Pont is best known for his successful tenure as governor of Delaware in the 1970s and 1980s. As even the New York Times acknowledged, during his two terms he “presided over an economic revival in his debt-ridden state,” earning plaudits from Democrats and Republicans alike. His approval rating neared 90 percent. (Imagine that in our age of partisan division.)

As former ISI president Chris Long noted when introducing du Pont at an ISI event in 2013, “Pete du Pont single-handedly brought more freedom and much more prosperity to Delaware.”

When du Pont campaigned for the 1988 Republican presidential nomination, his candidacy did not go far, but he was ahead of the curve with some positions he staked out. For example, he supported school vouchers, replacing welfare with work, and offering people the option of private retirement accounts instead of Social Security. 

Pete du Pont proved prescient in other ways as well. Writing in his regular Wall Street Journal column after the controversial 2000 presidential election, he predicted increasing polarization and concluded, “This basic division is going to bedevil American society for some years to come.”

Requiescat in pace.

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