Michael O’Donnell, AMDGMrs. MeyerUS History, Block 323 January 2018Cornelius Vanderbilt Cornelius Vanderbilt is known by many for his domination in the world of railroads, but he didn’t start off that way. Vanderbilt was born May 27, 1794 in Port Richmond, New York, his parents were farmers and were not that wealthy (Carey par. 2). When he was young his family moved to Stapleton (close to Port Richmond) and his dad started moving people and produce via boat from Staten Island to Manhattan (Carey par. 2). At age 11 Vanderbilt decided he was done with school, he assisted his dad with the boat business (Carey par. 2). When he was 12 he was an illiterate kid who could barely write his name (Wepman par. 1). Four years later his dad loaned him $100 to buy a sailboat. Vanderbilt bought the sailboat and made a consistent ferry service between Staten Island and Manhattan (Carey par. 3). After this, Vanderbilt had 13 kids with his first wife, Sophia Johnson, after she died he wasted no time getting remarried right away (Carey par. 2). Vanderbilt would die on January 4, 1877 (Carey par. 7). But, this was after he had made a fortune off the backs of others. Vanderbilt’s astronomical wealth started in War of 1812 when he won a contract for the government. He was to take supplies to the forts in the New York Harbor (Carey par. 3). In 1829 Cornelius Vanderbilt came to the realization that sailboats were not going to cut it, so he turned to steamships. Vanderbilt would cut prices so low, competitors would pay him to go elsewhere. He ended up at the Atlantic Coast, and later on he would control in many of the ports (Carey par. 3). During the gold rush he, “Established steamship service from New York City to Nicaragua, traversed Nicaragua via riverboat and stagecoach, and established steamship service from Nicaragua to San Francisco (Carey par. 5).” When he was in Central America he was undermining his competitors, eventually he was paid a whopping $700,000 to get out of town (Carey par. 5). By the mid 1850’s he had over 30 million dollars off steamship so he started to invest in railroad stock. The first railroad track he invested in was the New York and Harlem Railroad, in 1863 he became he was the president of it. He gained control of railroads in Central New York and the Hudson River. Vanderbilt was merging railroads of different states with non-stop service (Carey par. 5). At the end of his life Vanderbilt organized the making of Grand Central Depot which gave jobs to those impacted by the Panic of 1873. Vanderbilt wasn’t big into philanthropy except the donating of a million dollars to Central University, which was later renamed as Vanderbilt University (Cornelius par. 7). When Vanderbilt died his estate was worth more than 100 million, he divided his wealth, but he gave a significant amount to his son William Henry Vanderbilt (Carey par. 7). Cornelius Vanderbilt was not involved politically and frankly he didn’t care about the law. He stated (about the law), “What do I care about the law? Hain’t I got the power (Wepman par. 4). This quote really showcases Vanderbilt’s pompous attitude towards others and the government. This attitude translated over to his manner in business. Cornelius Vanderbilt was most definitely a robber baron. As explained early Vanderbilt would go into foreign places and undermine his competition to the point where they had to pay him to leave. His business strategy was explained as, “Maximum labor for minimum wages, bribed city officials to give him exclusive docking privileges, and reduced his fares and freight rates until he forced his competitors into bankruptcy and then raised his prices to exorbitant levels (Wepman par. 2).” Vanderbilt was willing to go through anyone or anything to get more money, and he was good at it.