Cornelius Vanderbilt


Cornelius Vanderbilt


One of Vanderbilt’s sons-in-law, needing $50,000 to set up a business, approached the Commodore for the loan. The old man inquired how much he expected to make from the investment.

“About five thousand a year,” was the reply.

“I can do better than that with fifty thousand dollars,” said Vanderbilt. “Tell you what I’ll do. I’ll pay you five thousand a year hereafter, and you may consider yourself in my employ at that salary.”


I am not afraid of my enemies, but by God, you must look out when you get among your friends.

~Cornelius Vanderbilt
Biographical Note: 

Cornelius Vanderbilt was a U.S. businessman. His nickname, “Commodore,” came from his ownership of a fleet of cargo schooners. Born in New York in 1794, this uneducated farmer’s son developed a ferry service to and from Staten Island, later to California and France. He then moved into railroads and by the time of his death had created a major American transportation system. Profits from this venture helped make him one of the greatest American capitalists of the century. During the Civil War he donated the steamship Vanderbilt to the U.S. government and afterwards some loose change for the founding of Vanderbilt University.