Governor Pete du Pont Memorial Service

Please join us on Friday, April 29, 2022, for a live stream of the Memorial Service for Governor Pete du Pont. In the meantime, please scroll down to learn more about the life and legacy of Pete du Pont.


Throughout Pete’s public life – as a state legislator, member of Congress, governor, presidential candidate, commentator and columnist – he knew the importance of government fostering, not frustrating, innovation and the economy. He knew that debating and pushing policies aimed at expanding the economic pie were far better uses of time than arguments about how to divide that pie. His view was based in a realization that, with each innovation generated and pushed by individuals in the market, jobs would increase and prosperity could be broadly shared.

Whether pushing for lower and fairer taxes, more effective government spending, greater choice in education, or eliminating the stifling impact of overly burdensome regulation, Pete wanted to empower individuals, families and businesses. He believed decisions, as much as possible, should be made in offices, shop floors, classrooms and around kitchen tables.

Legislator & Governor

After one term in the Delaware State House and three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, Pete sought and won the Delaware governorship. He was inaugurated Jan. 18, 1977, and wasted no time, immediately issuing his first executive order to increase transparency among state officials.

When his administration began, rancor and confrontation were commonplace. Delaware faced huge challenges, including a financial structure that drove employers away at a time when good jobs were critical to our future. State government spent more than it could afford; tax increases were the solution of choice for prior administrations; and no one had a plan to attract jobs and rebuild the economy. Pete changed that culture by winning the confidence, even affection, of former political foes. With that approach in Dover and with critical support from the loyal opposition, he forged consensus about constitutional financial reforms and tax reductions.

The du Pont administration worked with others in the state to push through the 1981 Financial Center Development Act, which made the state significantly more attractive to banks and financial institutions by making taxes fairer and reducing unnecessary and outdated regulation. Numerous banks entered the state, creating tens of thousands of financial services jobs and additional employment in other industries that flowed from this economic growth. The banks included JP Morgan Chase, Citicorp and MBNA. Their contributions reached beyond their impact on jobs and real estate to further many community and nonprofit organizations.

Pete’s administration drove the effort to lower taxes and restrain government spending. During his two terms as governor, Pete’s appreciation for a healthy economy, coupled with incentives for employers, led to continued job growth and prosperity for the First State – leaving a legacy that continues to lift Delaware families and businesses.

Government doesn’t need more money until it does better with the money it already has.
– Governor Pete du Pont

Presidential Candidate

Although Pete’s quest for the 1988 Republican presidential nomination fell short, his “Damn Right” approach propelled much of the political debate for the next two decades. Not surprisingly, Pete ran on a platform of lower taxes, more efficient government spending, and razing barriers to success.

Commentator, Columnist & Policy Advocate

After his tenure in office, Pete never stopped pushing for free-market policies when he appeared on television, radio and in print media. He was a syndicated columnist with Scripps-Howard; a regular columnist for The Wall Street Journal’s; and was a founder and editor of the pioneering weekly political and policy ezine, He served on the Kemp Commission on tax reform; was policy chairman of the National Center for Policy Analysis; and held roles for the Education Commission of the States, the Hudson Institute, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, the Delaware Public Policy Institute, Ideas for America’s Future, GOPAC and the National Leadership Council.

The Family Man

Pete demonstrated that good will, humor and a genuine sense of neighborliness, combined with clear vision, can transform a state.

Those values are in short supply today. Delaware misses its good friend, Pete du Pont.

  • Born: Jan. 22, 1935; died, May 8, 2021
  • Son of: Pierre S. Du Pont III and Jane Holcomb du Pont

  • Married: Elise Ravenel Wood

  • Children: Four children – Elise, Pierre, Thère and Ben, and numerous grandchildren

  • Degrees: Princeton University (engineering)
    and Harvard University (law)
    U.S. Naval Reserve officer – 1957-1960

Leadership Timeline

The Pete du Pont Freedom Foundation exists to preserve that legacy by honoring the governor’s accomplishments while creating enthusiasm for innovation to nurture our future.

Elected to the Delaware House of Representatives
Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives
Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for a second term
Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for a third term
Elected to the Office of Governor of the state of Delaware
Issued Executive Order 1
Led successful implementation of school desegregation
Sponsored successful tax-cut legislation bill
Created the Governor’s School for Excellence
Created Jobs for Delaware Graduates
Rainy Day Fund enacted
Elected to the Office of Governor of the state of Delaware for a second term
Financial Center Development Act passed


The Pete Du Pont Freedom Foundation offers many ways to get involved.