Cornelius Vanderbilt Net Worth

April 18, 2024
2 mins read

Cornelius Vanderbilt was born on the 27th May 1794, in Staten Island, New York USA, and passed away on the 4th January 1877 in New York City. Cornelius was best known to the world for building the New York Central Railroad, however, he build his vast kingdom also through his successful shipping business.

Have you ever wondered how rich Cornelius Vanderbilt was? According to sources, at the time of his death, Vanderbilt`s net worth is estimated at over $185 billion at today’s rate, an amount he earned through his successful career, becoming one of the richest Americans in history.


Cornelius Vanderbilt Net Worth $185 Billion


Vanderbilt`s family origins can be traced to the Netherlands; Cornelius` great-great-grandfather, named Jan Aertson was a farmer who emigrated to New York in the 17th century, as an Indentured servants. The village, De Bilt, from which Jan was, was later added to his name, and it formed the last name, Vanderbilt, in which van means ‘of’.

To speak of Cornelius` childhood, his family was poor, his father worked as a ferryman, and his mother was a housewife. He started working from an early age, as he quit school when he was only 11, and started helping his dad on the ferry. A few years later, Cornelius started his own ferry business, according to a source, with a loan of $100 from his mother and bought a masted, shallow draft which he named Swiftsure, on the other hand, another source states that his father was the owner of a vessel known as Periauger, and Cornelius needed to give him half the profits. Anyway, his business grew with an immense speed, transporting cargo and people from Staten Island to Manhattan, back and forth, and he eventually earned the nickname ‘commodore’, which stuck with him through the rest of his life.

Vanderbilt`s net worth was increasing at great speed, and he was able to expand his business, which he did. In collaboration with Thomas Gibbons, into steamboats, and later ocean-steamboats, which further expanded his net worth.

With the start of the Civil War, Cornelius tried to give his largest steamship to the Union Navy, but was rejected, as the secretary of the navy thought the maintenance would be too expensive, and instead he leased to the War Department. After the war ended, he expanded his business into railroads, actually starting in 1863, when New York and Harlem railroad began to operate.

Soon, Cornelius began to build new railroad tracks, which increased his net worth to a large degree. By the time of his death, Cornelius controlled Hudson River Railroad, New York Central Railroad, Canada Southern Railway, Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway, and Michigan Central Railroad.

Thanks to his achievements, Cornelius was inducted into the North American Railway Hall of Fame in 1999.

Cornelius died at his home on the 4th January 1877, after several months of battling against chronic disorders. Cornelius was buried in the family vault in the Moravian Cemetery at New Drop on Staten Island, however, his remnants were later moved to another tomb at the same cemetery.

He was married twice; his first wife was Sophia Johnson, his first cousin from his mother`s side, with whom he was married from 1813 until her death in 1868. They had 13 children, of whom Cornelius made his son William Henry Vanderbilt his only heir.

His second wife, was Frank Armstrong Crawford, who was 45 years younger than Cornelius.

Cornelius was a philanthropist, and donated $1 million to the construction of what would later become Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, at the instigation of his second wife’s cousin to assist research and especially for black scholars.. He also gave donations to several churches, including the Moravian Church at which cemetery he was later buried.

Daniel Wanburg

As the Managing Editor at Net Worth Post, I lead a talented team in delivering compelling content on the lives and achievements of influential figures. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for storytelling, I oversee the production of insightful biographies that resonate with our audience. My role involves not only managing the editorial process but also conducting research, crafting engaging narratives, and ensuring the accuracy and quality of our publications.

At NetWorthPost, we strive to provide our readers with in-depth profiles that offer valuable insights into the worlds of business, entertainment, and beyond. Through meticulous research and captivating storytelling, we bring to light the remarkable journeys and successes of individuals who inspire and captivate us.

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