Cornelius Vanderbilt

Growing up in a family with many members who earned their livings on Wall Street and with many ancestors and relatives who had done the same, I—as might be expected—very early heard stories of business that I found as fascinating as the tales of military action I was soaking up Read more >>
Overrated For a hundred years the armor-plate scandal of the 1890s has been offered up as a definitive example of corporate greed. In fact it’s a better example of government incompetence. Read more >>

And how history shows it’s actually good for us

THERE’S AN OLD JOKE ABOUT A COMPANY’S NEEDING TO hire a new accounting firm. The chief executive invites the heads of eight firms to come in for interviews and he hires one right away. A friend asks him how he did it. “Simple,” the chief executive replies. Read more >>

A ranking of the forty wealthiest Americans of all time (Surprise: Only three of them are alive today)

JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER 1839-1937 Read more >>

Steamboat competition was about more than speed.

If the Olympic Games demonstrate anything, it is that the urge to be the fastest lies deep in the human soul. And from the earliest days of humankind this urge has had its practical rewards beyond mere glory. The fastest caveman, after all, caught the most gazelles. Read more >>
A letter written by Cornelius Vanderbilt in 1818 is my second-favorite business letter. Vanderbilt was then twenty-four, and he wrote to his employer, Thomas Gibbons, the owner of a ferry that ran between New Brunswick and New York City, about a competitor named Letson. Read more >>
About to die at the untimely age of forty-four in 1883, Dr. George Miller Beard, a Connecticut physician and pioneer in neurology, remarked: “I should like to record the thoughts of a dying man for the benefit of science, but it is impossible.” And with those words, Dr. Read more >>

—and America’s greatest fortune up to that time, some $100,000,000. The legal battle that followed, full of tarts and torts and turnabouts, might have been plotted by Dickens

Her past was shady but her conscience was excellent,
and all in all she played a big part in the emancipation of women