Biography of Cornelius Vanderbilt


Vanderbilt, Cornelius. American capitalist. Born near Stapleton, Staten Island, NY, May 27, 1794. Early engaged in steamboat transportation between Staten Island and New York, and so enlarged his business that he soon gained the complete control of the New York and Staten Island lines. Later, Vanderbilt started steamboats in various waters - the Hudson, the Delaware, Long Island Sound - and established steamboats and other connections between New York and California. In 1864, he withdrew his capital from shipping and invested it in railroads. He secured the management of one railroad after another and, in 1877, controlled stocks representing an aggregate capital of $150,000,000 of which he owned fully one-half. In 1861, Vanderbilt presented the swift $800,000 steamship "Vanderbilt" to the United States government to be used for the capture of Confederate privateers. Later he endowed Vanderbilt University, founded at Nashville, TN, in 1872, with $500,000; afterward increased to $700,000. At the time of his death in New York City, January 4, 1877, his fortune was estimated at nearly $100,000,000, and he was supposed to be the richest man in the world.