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Cornelius Vanderbilt
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Entrepreneur
    (May 27, 1794-January 4, 1877)
    Last name condensed from 'Van Der Bilt'
    Shipping and railroad tycoon
    Patriarch of the Vanderbuilt family
    Peak fortune estimated at $100 million
    One of America's richest men
    He married two of his cousins.
    After his first cousin's wife died, he married one that was 43 years his junior.
    He dropped out of school by age 11 to get into business.
    He was ruthless in acquiring wealth and maintaining power.
    He made very few friends and a lot of enemies.
    He was vulgar, mean-spirited and generally made life hell for his family.
    He chewed tobacco.
    His descendants built huge mansions in New York that came to characterize the greed of the Gilded Age.
    Of his $100 million, he left his son William with $95 million and his eight daughters (along with his wife) $500,000.
    The will was contested by three of his daughters and son Cornelius Jeremiah Vanderbilt for over a year unsuccessfully.
    His son later committed suicide.
    The dynasty he created did not last long. Sixty years after his death, one of his direct descendants died penniless because of arrogant personal spending.
    Unlike other industrial giants of the period, he was not charitable with his wealth in the slightest and once said, 'The public be damned.'
    Unlike the rest of his family, he preferred to live in modest homes.
    He let the Union use one of his cargo vessels during the Civil War.
    His youngest and favorite son died as a result of injuries after the Civil War (1866).
    He offered railroad jobs to the thousands that were left unemployed as a result of the Panic of 1873.
    He was not litigious and preferred to destroy his enemies through other means.
    He willed $1 million to found Vanderbilt University.

Credit: Captain Howdy


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