Cornelius Vanderbilt was a leading businessman in transportation and shipping during the 1800′s in the United States. He was born on May 27, 1794 in Port Richmond on Staten Island, New York. As a teenager, he worked on a ferry boat on the Hudson River taking people and goods across the river. He formed a steamship company and it grew during the California gold rush as his ships carried prospectors from New York to California. His share in the shipping industry prospered and eventually had ships going back and forth regularly to Europe.
He also became a leader in the railroad industry. He took over much of the railroad network in the United States in the mid 1800′s. He brought together the Hudson River Railroad and the New York Central Railroad. By the 1870′s, he owned railroad all the way to Chicago.
Vanderbilt had a strategy in business. He would lower his transportation and shipping rates which caused other companies to have to have to sell out to him.
For most of his life, Vanderbilt was not a very charitable man. But toward the end of his life, he donated a lot of his fortune. His contributions helped build a university named after him and other great institutions.
Source: Carlson, W. Bernard. “Vanderbilt, Cornelius.” World Book Advanced. World Book, 2012. Web. 13 Dec. 2012.