Cornelius Vanderbilt Vanderbilt was born to a poor family and quit school at the age of 11 to work for his Father who was a boater. When he turned 16 he persuaded his mother to give him a $100 dollar loan for a boat to start his business. He opened a transport and freight service Between New York and Staten Island for eighteen cents a trip. He repaid the loan with an $1,000 dollars. Vanderbilt later received a government contract to supply the forts around New York.

Large profits allowed him to build a schooner and two other vessels for trade. Vanderbilt got his name from being the “commander” of the biggest vessel. By 1817 he possessed $9,000 dollars. Vanderbilt then sold his interests and turned his attention to steamboats in 1818. He operated a ferry between New Brunswick, New Jersey, and New York City. He charged his customers a dollar while others charged four for the same trip.

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After a court decision Vanderbilt received most of the shipping business along the Hudson River. In 1829 Vanderbilt went out on his own and entered the competitive service between New York and Peekskill. He cut rates so low the competition paid him to move elsewhere. He then opened service to Long Island Sound, Providence, Boston, and points in Connecticut. He offered the passengers not only comfort but often luxury.

By the 1840s Vanderbilt was running more than 100 steamboats and his company had more employees than any other company in the United States. By the time he was forty His wealth was more than $500,000.During the gold rush of 1849 the basic route was by Boat to Panama, by land across the isthmus, and by steamship to the Pacific Coast. He offered a route overland, across Nigeria that saved travelers 600 miles and cut the price almost in half. By doing this he made over 1 million dollars a year. One of the few things that Vanderbilt Bought was his mansion on Staten Island.

At the age of 70, during the Civil War Vanderbilt gained control of the New York railroad that connected New York and Chicago. He founded Vanderbilt University in Nashville Tennessee, and gave $50,000 to the Church of Strangers. Upon His death he was the richest man in The United States. He left his fortune of 95 million dollars to his son William Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt is remembered for his remark,” the public be damned,” when asked by a reporter whether railroads should be run for the public benefit.