Cornelius Vanderbilt was a man who built a fortune out of steamboat and railroad enterprises. He lived from 1794-1877. He was nicknamed ‘Commodore’ Vanderbilt because he operated his own ferry from Staten Island to Manhattan when he was only a young teenager. He was one of the richest men in American history.
Vanderbilt was born poor, and he quit school at age eleven to join his father in the ferry business. When he was older he married his cousin, Sophia Johnson. Together they had thirteen children.
While he was managing his steamboat enterprise, Vanderbilt also preoccupied himself with the growing industry of railroads. He bought a railroad across New York, and thus started his railroad career. Over his lifetime, he bought railroad after railroad until he owned thirteen, despite having lost some over time. He died at age eighty-two after a successful career.
Vanderbilt succeeded in his business because he knew what he wanted and he went out to get it. He was a rather ruthless business man, who fought other entrepreneurs throughout his career. He started young, and when he wanted something done, he got it done. Those points, I believe, were the secret to Cornelius Vanderbilt’s success.