In Order To Grow, A Country Needs Not Only The

2864 words - 11 pages

In order to grow, a country needs not only the muscles of labourers but also the wheeling and dealing of entrepreneurs. As these entrepreneurs amassed fortunes for themselves, they brought the United States great advantages. Such entrepreneurs as Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, and John Davidson Rockefeller became known as "robber barons." Cornelis Vanderbilt was born on May 27, 1794, into a family of nine children, in Port Richmond, Staten Island, New York (1). When he was sixteen, he entered the transportation business and established a freight-and-passenger ferry service between Staten Island and Manhattan. He had borrowed $100 from his mother to help initiate this business (2). Then, after the business was up and running, he repaid his mother and still had an extra thousand. At the end of that year he gave his mother the additional one thousand dollars and bought partial interest in several other boats (2). Thus, he had devised on a small scale the system that would one day make him one of the wealthiest men in the world. When he got married and started a family, he set up a larger ferry system and obtained a contract to supply six forts around New York State. It was quite hard to maintain but the profits were large, and new schooners were added to a growing fleet. During the War of 1812, he owned a fleet of schooners and entered the steamer business in 1818, buying his first steamship in 1829. He realized that steamboats were the future of sea travel and, therefore, invested in them. At the time, Robert Fulton, the inventor of the first successful steamboat, had just come out with the Clermont (steamboat) and was creating a monopoly of the business. After seven years of that situation, the US Supreme Court declared that such monopolies were unconstitutional (3). Because of Vanderbilt's independent spirit and vision of the future, he resigned from his position with Thomas Gibbons, for whom he worked commanding steamboats and streamlining procedures. At the age of thirty-five, and with forty thousand dollars, he entered the New York steamboat business (4). He constructed better boats than his competitors and delivered services that were cheaper and more efficient. None of his more than one hundred vessels was ever burned, or wrecked, or destroyed unlike that of his competitors. He chose only the best captains and carried no insurance. He had become an effective competitor by reducing his rates, constantly improving the quality of his ships and crew, and controlling much of the Hudson River trade; when his rivals paid him to take his traffic elsewhere, he set up routes from Long Island Sound to Providence, Rhode Island, and Boston, even taking some of their business. By the time he was forty, he was worth half a million dollars.By 1864, Vanderbilt had sold his steamships to Daniel B. Allen and Cornelius K. Garrison for a million dollars (5). This began his new interest and investing into the railroad industry. He became more involved in...

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