William Henry Vanderbilt
|Died||December 8, 1885 64) (aged|
|Resting place||Moravian Cemetery|
|Education||Columbia College (1841)|
|Occupation||Owner of the New York Central Railroad and other railroads.|
|Net worth||nearly US$232 million (equivalent to approximately $6,601,688,889 in 2019 dollars) }}|
Maria Louisa Kissam
|Children||Cornelius, Margaret, Allen, William, Emily, Florence, Frederick, Eliza, and George|
|Parent(s)|| Cornelius Vanderbilt |
|Relatives||See Vanderbilt family|
William Henry "Billy" Vanderbilt (May 8, 1821 – December 8, 1885) was an American businessman and philanthropist.He was the eldest son of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, an heir to his fortune and a prominent member of the Vanderbilt family. Vanderbilt became the richest American after he took over his father's fortune in 1877 until his own death in 1885, passing on a substantial part of the fortune to his wife and children, particularly to his sons Cornelius II and William. He inherited nearly $100 million from his father. The fortune had doubled when he died less than nine years later.
Billy was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, on May 8, 1821, to Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt and Sophia Johnson.
His father Cornelius frequently berated and criticized him, calling his eldest son a "blockhead" and a "blatherskite". Billy longed to show his father that he was not, in fact, a blatherskite, but never dared stand up to the Commodore. A major turning point in their relationship occurred on the family trip to Europe on the steamship Vanderbilt in 1860, after which, the two became very close and Billy was given a greater role in business matters.
He was matriculated at Columbia College with the class of 1841 but did not graduate, according to official records.
His father carefully oversaw his business training, starting him out at age 19 as a clerk in a New York banking house. After joining as an executive of the Staten Island Railway, he was made its president in 1862 and three years later was appointed vice-president of the Hudson River railway.[ citation needed ]
In 1869, he was made vice-president of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, becoming its president in 1877. He took over for his father as president of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway, the Canada Southern Railway, and the Michigan Central Railroad at the time of the Commodore's death.
Vanderbilt's railroad holdings included Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, the Chicago and Canada Southern Railway, the Detroit and Bay City Railroad, the Hudson River Railroad, the Hudson River Bridge, the Joliet and Northern Indiana Railroad, the Michigan Midland and Canada Railroad, the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, the New York Central Sleeping Car Company, the New York and Harlem Rail Road, the Spuyten Duyvil and Port Morris Railroad, and the Staten Island Rail-Road.[ citation needed ]
In 1883, reporter John Dickinson Sherman questioned him about why he ran the limited express train: "Do your limited express trains pay or do you run them for the accommodation of the public?" Vanderbilt responded with: "Accommodation of the public? The public be damned! We run them because we have to. They do not pay. We have tried again and again to get the different roads to give them up; but they will run them and, of course, as long as they run them we must do the same." The interview was then published in the Chicago Daily News, but Vanderbilt's words were modified. Several accounts of the incident were then disseminated; the accounts vary in terms of who conducted the interview, under what circumstance and what was actually said. William received bad publicity and clarified his response with a subsequent interview by the Chicago Times. In that interview he was quoted saying: "Railroads are not run for the public benefit, but to pay. Incidentally, we may benefit humanity, but the aim is to earn a dividend."
In 1884 the firm Grant & Ward went bankrupt and ruined the investments of both Ulysses S. Grant and Vanderbilt, whom Grant had convinced to invest $150,000. Ferdinand Ward, known as the Napoleon of Wall Street, had, unknowingly to both Grant and Vanderbilt, operated the company as a Ponzi scheme that resulted in financial ruin for many. The other associate, Buck Grant, apparently was unaware of Ward's Ponzi scheme swindle. Ward was later prosecuted. To pay Vanderbilt back, Grant mortgaged his Civil War memorabilia, including his sword. Although this did not fully cover the $150,000 debt, Vanderbilt accepted the memorabilia as payment and wiped out the $150,000 debt owed by Grant. Vanderbilt later recouped Grant's other mortgaged war memorabilia, including the memorabilia given by Grant, and returned them to Ulysses S. Grant's wife, Julia Grant, after Grant's death in 1885.[ citation needed ]
In 1841, Billy married Maria Louisa Kissam (1821–1896), daughter of the Reverend Samuel Kissam and Margaret Hamilton Adams. Together, they had nine children:
In 1883, he resigned all his company presidencies and had his sons appointed as important chairmen but left the day-to-day running of the businesses to experienced men appointed president.[ citation needed ]
He died on December 8, 1885, in Manhattan, New York City. [ citation needed ]He was interred in the Vanderbilt family mausoleum at the Moravian Cemetery in New Dorp on Staten Island, New York. His estate was divided among his eight children and his wife, the bulk of the estate going to his eldest two sons, Cornelius and William.
Vanderbilt was an active philanthropist who gave extensively to a number of philanthropic causes including the YMCA; funding to help establish the Metropolitan Opera (which was not an entirely selfless act; his and other New York "new money" families had been socially excluded from the New York Academy of Music and set up the Metropolitan as competition); and an endowment for the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. In 1880, he provided the money for Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, to construct the Wesley Hall building for use as the Biblical Department and library and included 160 dormitory rooms for students and professors, lecture halls, as well as a cafeteria. The building was destroyed by fire in 1932 and his son Frederick made another donation to help cover the insurance shortfall and allow a new building to be constructed.[ citation needed ]
Vanderbilt was an avid art enthusiast; his collection included some of the most valuable works of the Old Masters, and over his lifetime Vanderbilt acquired more than 200 paintings, which he housed in his lavish and palatial Fifth Avenue mansion.[ citation needed ]
Cornelius Vanderbilt was an American business magnate who built his wealth in railroads and shipping. After working with his father's business, Vanderbilt worked his way into leadership positions in the inland water trade and invested in the rapidly growing railroad industry. Nicknamed "The Commodore", he is known for owning the New York Central Railroad. His biographer T. J. Stiles says, "He vastly improved and expanded the nation's transportation infrastructure, contributing to a transformation of the very geography of the United States. He embraced new technologies and new forms of business organization, and used them to compete....He helped to create the corporate economy that would define the United States into the 21st century."
Cornelius “Corneil” Vanderbilt II was an American socialite, businessman, and a member of the prominent United States Vanderbilt family. He was the favorite grandson of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, who bequeathed him $5 million, and the eldest son of William Henry "Billy" Vanderbilt and Maria Louisa Kissam. In his turn he succeeded them as the Chairman and the President of the New York Central and related railroad lines in 1885.
The Vanderbilt family is an American family of Dutch origin who gained prominence during the Gilded Age. Their success began with the shipping and railroad empires of Cornelius Vanderbilt, and the family expanded into various other areas of industry and philanthropy. Cornelius Vanderbilt's descendants went on to build grand mansions on Fifth Avenue in New York City; luxurious "summer cottages" in Newport, Rhode Island; the palatial Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina; and various other opulent homes.
William Kissam Vanderbilt I was an American heir, businessman, philanthropist and horsebreeder. Born into the Vanderbilt family, he managed his family's railroad investments.
From the late 1870s to the 1920s, the Vanderbilt family employed some of the United States's best Beaux-Arts architects and decorators to build an unequalled string of New York townhouses and East Coast palaces in the United States. Many of the Vanderbilt houses are now National Historic Landmarks. Some photographs of Vanderbilt's residences in New York are included in the Photographic series of American Architecture by Albert Levy (1870s).
Frederick William Vanderbilt was a member of the American Vanderbilt family. He was a director of the New York Central Railroad for 61 years, and also a director of the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad and of the Chicago and North Western Railroad.
Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt Sr. was a wealthy American businessman, and a member of the Vanderbilt family.
Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt Jr. was a member of the prominent Vanderbilt family, a son of the first Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, who died a hero in the sinking of the RMS Lusitania. His mother, Margaret Emerson, was one of America's wealthiest women and most sought-after hostesses, operating at least seven large estates around the country. His grandfather, Cornelius Vanderbilt II, had been one of America's most revered businessmen; his great-grandfather, William Henry Vanderbilt had been the richest man in the world. "Commodore" Cornelius Vanderbilt started the family fortune in shipping and railroads as the founder of the New York Central Railroad and builder of Grand Central Depot, the precursor to Grand Central Terminal, built on approximately the same location, and completed by Cornelius II in 1913.
William Henry Vanderbilt III was Governor of Rhode Island and a member of the wealthy and socially prominent Vanderbilt family.
George Washington Vanderbilt II was an art collector and member of the prominent Vanderbilt family, which amassed a huge fortune through steamboats, railroads, and various business enterprises. He built a 250-room mansion, the largest privately owned home in the United States, which he named Biltmore Estate.
William Kissam Vanderbilt II was a motor racing enthusiast and yachtsman, and a member of the prominent American Vanderbilt family.
Virginia Fair Vanderbilt was an American socialite, hotel builder/owner, philanthropist, owner of Fair Stable, a Thoroughbred racehorse operation, and a member of the prominent Vanderbilt family by marriage.
Vanderbilt is a surname, and may refer to:
Alice Claypoole Vanderbilt was the wife of Cornelius Vanderbilt II and reigned as the matriarch of the Vanderbilt family for over 60 years.
Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt was a member of the Vanderbilt family. He was the father of Gloria Vanderbilt and maternal grandfather of Anderson Cooper. An avid equestrian, Vanderbilt was the founder and president of many equestrian organizations. He gambled away most of his inheritance.
James Watson Webb II was an American polo champion and insurance executive. He was a grandson of William Henry Vanderbilt and James Watson Webb.
Eliza Osgood Vanderbilt Webb was an American heiress.
Florence Adele Vanderbilt Twombly was an American heiress and a member of the prominent Vanderbilt family. She and her husband built Florham, a gilded age estate in Madison, New Jersey.
Margaret Louisa Vanderbilt Shepard was an American heiress and a member of the prominent Vanderbilt family. As a philanthropist, she funded the YMCA, helping create a hotel for guests of the organization. She was married to prominent New York City lawyer, banker, and newspaper editor Elliott Fitch Shepard.
Hamilton McKown Twombly was an American businessman.
William H. Vanderbilt died at his residence in this city, of paralysis, at half-past two o'clock this afternoon. He arose this morning at his usual hour, and at breakfast served to the members of the family, most of whom were present, he appeared to be in his usual health and in a more than usually happy frame of mind.
George Washington Vanderbilt of New York died suddenly this afternoon at his Washington residence, 1,612 K Street. With him at the time were Mrs. Vanderbilt and their thirteen-year-old daughter, Miss Cornelia S. Vanderbilt.
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