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John Jacob Astor

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 >>

The first men to follow Lewis and Clark across the continent to the Pacific were John Jacob Astor’s fur traders. They discovered the formidable chasm of Idaho’s Snake River—and almost never got out

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