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Cornelius Vanderbilt. Essay

868 words - 3 pages

Empire Builders SpeechWhen our class began to select Personal Empire Builders I was hoping for someone familiar. However, my hopes soon faded when I read "Cornelius Vanderbilt" on that tiny slip of paper. How entertaining could explaining Cornelius Vanderbilt be when someone had Colonel Sanders? Nevertheless, working into this project I have found some pretty interesting things surrounding the life Cornelius Vanderbilt. For instance, did you know that Cornelius is considered one of the most prominent figures of American business today? But I am sure the main question plaguing your mind is: Who is Cornelius Vanderbilt? I promise you, the answer is more interesting than you think.Cornelius Vanderbilt was born on May 27th, 1794 in Staten Island, New York. His early years were catastrophic to say the least. His parents, both rough and abusive alcoholics, constantly fell deeper and deeper into debt daily. Soon food was becoming scarce and Vanderbilt's parents withdrew him from school (at the age of 11) to help improve the family's disastrous income. Luckily, Cornelius's father was experienced in sailing and business and taught young Vanderbilt the ropes. Cornelius caught on quickly. He soon gained a reputation for being one of the most honest and daring of his father's men. Not before long, Cornelius was 16 and wanted to open up his own business. Eventually, young Vanderbilt swindled and borrowed his way toward $100--enough to purchase his first ferry. In 1811 Vanderbilt began to transport people between New York and Staten Island. Cornelius's reputation grew stronger each day. His business tactics were fierce and bold--Vanderbilt often slashed his fares to meager amounts just to intimidate his competitors. By the end of 1811 Vanderbilt's wealth grew to almost triple he had started with. This made an impressive statement to Cornelius's rivals; Vanderbilt was not to be taken lightly.In mid-1812 Vanderbilt was thriving; his new fleet included over 3 passenger boats and several cargo freighters. However, Vanderbilt's luck had only just begun. In late 1812 new opportunities presented themselves from the war with Britain. The US government offered Vanderbilt $9000 (Note: $9000 then was close to about $150,000 now) if daily his ships would supply the fortifications around New York City. Adventurous Vanderbilt immediately agreed and flawlessly met the government's expectations throughout the war. Following his exploits, Vanderbilt's name became well known and trusted across the United States. In response to his soaring popularity, Cornelius opened several other shipping lines on The Mississippi River, The Great Lakes, and The Ohio River. Cornelius's wealth and popularity were skyrocketing. Vanderbilt was in the...

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