William Henry Vanderbilt
Overview
 
William Henry Vanderbilt I (May 8, 1821 – December 8, 1885) was an American businessman and a member of the prominent Vanderbilt family
Vanderbilt family
The Vanderbilt family is an American family of Dutch origin prominent during the Gilded Age. It started off with the shipping and railroad empires of Cornelius Vanderbilt, and expanded into various other areas of industry and philanthropy...

.
William Vanderbilt was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey
New Brunswick, New Jersey
New Brunswick is a city in Middlesex County, New Jersey, USA. It is the county seat and the home of Rutgers University. The city is located on the Northeast Corridor rail line, southwest of Manhattan, on the southern bank of the Raritan River. At the 2010 United States Census, the population of...

 in 1821. He inherited nearly $100 million from his father, railroad mogul and family patriarch "The Commodore" Cornelius Vanderbilt
Cornelius Vanderbilt
Cornelius Vanderbilt , also known by the sobriquet Commodore, was an American entrepreneur who built his wealth in shipping and railroads. He was also the patriarch of the Vanderbilt family and one of the richest Americans in history...

 upon his death in 1877 and had increased it to almost $194 million at his death less than nine years later. When he died, he was the richest man in the world.
Encyclopedia
William Henry Vanderbilt I (May 8, 1821 – December 8, 1885) was an American businessman and a member of the prominent Vanderbilt family
Vanderbilt family
The Vanderbilt family is an American family of Dutch origin prominent during the Gilded Age. It started off with the shipping and railroad empires of Cornelius Vanderbilt, and expanded into various other areas of industry and philanthropy...

.

Childhood

William Vanderbilt was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey
New Brunswick, New Jersey
New Brunswick is a city in Middlesex County, New Jersey, USA. It is the county seat and the home of Rutgers University. The city is located on the Northeast Corridor rail line, southwest of Manhattan, on the southern bank of the Raritan River. At the 2010 United States Census, the population of...

 in 1821. He inherited nearly $100 million from his father, railroad mogul and family patriarch "The Commodore" Cornelius Vanderbilt
Cornelius Vanderbilt
Cornelius Vanderbilt , also known by the sobriquet Commodore, was an American entrepreneur who built his wealth in shipping and railroads. He was also the patriarch of the Vanderbilt family and one of the richest Americans in history...

 upon his death in 1877 and had increased it to almost $194 million at his death less than nine years later. When he died, he was the richest man in the world. In 1841 he married Maria Louisa Kissam (1821–1896), the daughter of a Presbyterian minister.

Vanderbilt said in an interview with the Chicago Daily News on October 9, 1882, "The railroads are not run for the benefit of the 'dear public' — that cry is all nonsense — they are built by men who invest their money and expect to get a fair percentage on the same." In 1883, when questioned by a reporter about the discontinuance of a fast mail train popular with the public, he declared: "The public be damned!... I don't take any stock in this silly nonsense about working for anybody but our own."{Interview, Chicago Daily News, October 9, 1882}

His father Cornelius constantly berated and criticized him, thinking his eldest son a "blockhead" and a "blatherskite", two of the Commodore's favorite insults. Billy (as he was called) longed to show his father that he was not, in fact, a blatherskite, but he never dared stand up to the fearsome Commodore, always cringing under his father's rudeness.

Career

His father carefully oversaw his business training, starting him out at age 19 as a clerk in a New York banking house. After joining the executive of the Staten Island Railway
Staten Island Railway
The Staten Island Rapid Transit Operating Authority, publicly known as MTA Staten Island Railway or SIR, is the operator of the lone rapid transit line in the borough of Staten Island, New York City, USA...

, he was made its president in 1862 then three years later was appointed vice-president of the Hudson River railway.

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
Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway
The Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway, sometimes referred to as the Lake Shore, was a major part of the New York Central Railroad's Water Level Route from Buffalo, NY to Chicago, primarily along the south shore of Lake Erie and across northern Indiana...

, the Canada Southern Railway
Canada Southern Railway
The Canada Southern Railway was a railway in southern Ontario, Canada, founded on February 28, 1868 as the Erie and Niagara Extension Railway. It adopted the Canada Southern Railway name on December 24, 1869. In 1904 the railway was leased to the Michigan Central Railroad for 99 years; in 1929 it...

, and the Michigan Central Railroad
Michigan Central Railroad
The Michigan Central Railroad was originally incorporated in 1846 to establish rail service between Detroit, Michigan and St. Joseph, Michigan. The railroad later operated in the states of Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois in the United States, and the province of Ontario in Canada...

 at the time of the Commodore's death.

He actively expanded the family's railroad empire, and added millions to the gargantuan Vanderbilt family fortune. At his retirement in 1883, his elder sons assumed the head positions in the family railroad empire, and they inherited his massive fortune when he died. It was in his sons' time that the Vanderbilt family demanded social recognition, and obtained it with the efforts of his daughter-in-law Alva
Alva Belmont
Alva Erskine Belmont , née Alva Erskine Smith, also called Alva Vanderbilt from 1875 to 1896, was a prominent multi-millionaire American socialite and a major figure in the women's suffrage movement...

, from the older families of New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 high society, centered on the Astor family
Astor family
The Astor family is a Anglo-American business family of German descent notable for their prominence in business, society, and politics.-Founding family members:...

, whom the Vanderbilts had by then far outstripped in wealth. After Alva's social conquests, the Vanderbilts were recognized as one of the leading families of American high society
Upper class
In social science, the "upper class" is the group of people at the top of a social hierarchy. Members of an upper class may have great power over the allocation of resources and governmental policy in their area.- Historical meaning :...

 in the Gilded Age
Gilded Age
In United States history, the Gilded Age refers to the era of rapid economic and population growth in the United States during the post–Civil War and post-Reconstruction eras of the late 19th century. The term "Gilded Age" was coined by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner in their book The Gilded...

.
He and his wife had eight children: four sons and four daughters.

Vanderbilt was an active philanthropist, giving extensively to a number of philanthropic causes including the YMCA
YMCA
The Young Men's Christian Association is a worldwide organization of more than 45 million members from 125 national federations affiliated through the World Alliance of YMCAs...

, funding to help establish the Metropolitan Opera
Metropolitan Opera
The Metropolitan Opera is an opera company, located in New York City. Originally founded in 1880, the company gave its first performance on October 22, 1883. The company is operated by the non-profit Metropolitan Opera Association, with Peter Gelb as general manager...

 and an endowment for the College of Physicians and Surgeons
Medical school
A medical school is a tertiary educational institution—or part of such an institution—that teaches medicine. Degree programs offered at medical schools often include Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, Bachelor/Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Philosophy, master's degree, or other post-secondary...

 at Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

. In 1880, he provided the money for Vanderbilt University
Vanderbilt University
Vanderbilt University is a private research university located in Nashville, Tennessee, United States. Founded in 1873, the university is named for shipping and rail magnate "Commodore" Cornelius Vanderbilt, who provided Vanderbilt its initial $1 million endowment despite having never been to the...

 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.

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.

Despite his great wealth he never considered himself happy with it — shortly before his death he said: "The care of $200 million is too great a load for any back or brain to bear. It is enough to kill anyone. There is no pleasure in it."

Death

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.

He died on December 8, 1885 in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

. He was interred in the Vanderbilt family mausoleum at the Moravian Cemetery in New Dorp on Staten Island, New York. His estate was divided amongst his eight children and his wife, the bulk of the estate going to his eldest two sons, William Kissam Vanderbilt
William Kissam Vanderbilt
William Kissam Vanderbilt was a member of the prominent American Vanderbilt family. He managed railroads and was a horse breeder.-Biography:...

 and Cornelius Vanderbilt II
Cornelius Vanderbilt II
Cornelius Vanderbilt II was an American socialite, heir, businessman, and a member of the prominent United States Vanderbilt family....

.

Children

Children of William Henry Vanderbilt and Maria Louisa Kissam:
  1. Cornelius Vanderbilt II
    Cornelius Vanderbilt II
    Cornelius Vanderbilt II was an American socialite, heir, businessman, and a member of the prominent United States Vanderbilt family....

     (1843–1899)
  2. Margaret Louisa Vanderbilt (1845–1924) who married Elliot Fitch Shepherd in 1868
  3. William Kissam Vanderbilt
    William Kissam Vanderbilt
    William Kissam Vanderbilt was a member of the prominent American Vanderbilt family. He managed railroads and was a horse breeder.-Biography:...

     (1849–1920)
  4. Emily Thorn Vanderbilt
    Emily Thorn Vanderbilt
    Emily Thorn Vanderbilt was a member of the prominent United States Vanderbilt family.The second daughter of William Henry Vanderbilt and Maria Louisa Kissam , Emily Thorn Vanderbilt was named after her aunt, Emily Almira Thorn, daughter of dynasty founder Cornelius Vanderbilt.The Sloanes were...

     (1852–1946) who married William Douglas Sloane (c.1872) and later Henry White
  5. Florence Adele Vanderbilt (1854–1952) who married Hamilton McKown Twombly
  6. Frederick William Vanderbilt
    Frederick William Vanderbilt
    Frederick William Vanderbilt was a member of the 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.-Biography:A son of William Henry Vanderbilt, Frederick...

     (1856–1938)
  7. Eliza Osgood Vanderbilt (1860–1936) who married William Seward Webb
    William Seward Webb
    William Seward Webb, M.D. was a businessman, and Inspector General of the Vermont militia with the rank of Colonel. He was a founder and former President of the Sons of the American Revolution.-Biography:...

  8. George Washington Vanderbilt II
    George Washington Vanderbilt II
    George Washington Vanderbilt II was a member of the prominent United States Vanderbilt family, which had amassed a huge fortune through steamboats, railroads, and various business enterprises. He built and owned Biltmore, the largest home in the United States.-Biography:The eighth son and youngest...

     (1862–1914)

Holdings

  • Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad
    Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad
    The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad was a railroad that operated in the Midwestern United States. Commonly referred to as the Burlington or as the Q, the Burlington Route served a large area, including extensive trackage in the states of Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri,...

  • Chicago and Canada Southern Railway
    Chicago and Canada Southern Railway
    The Chicago and Canada Southern Railway was a planned extension of the Canada Southern Railway west from Grosse Ile, Michigan to Chicago, Illinois...

  • Detroit and Bay City Railroad
  • Hudson River Railroad
  • Hudson River Bridge
  • Joliet and Northern Indiana Railroad
  • Michigan Midland and Canada Railroad
  • New York Central and Hudson River Railroad
  • New York Central Sleeping Car Company
  • New York and Harlem Rail Road
  • Spuyten Duyvil and Port Morris Railroad
  • Staten Island Rail-Road

External links


Further reading

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK