Vanderbilt William Henry
American capitalist, the son of one of the richest and most successful entrepreneurs of the USA of the XIX century, Cornelius Vanderbilt.
William Vanderbilt was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The heirs did not please Cornelius Vanderbilt: “I have many children, but some of them are worthless”, he once told his friend. Eight daughters were of little interest to him, and his three sons were distressed. The youngest, George, who graduated from West Point College and was considered the most promising, died at the age of 25. The middle son, Cornelius, was an epileptic, a gambling player and a brawler - his father twice put him in a mental hospital, and later bought him a horticultural farm in Hartford. But by the age of 38, Cornelius Jr. had a debt of 80,000 and became bankrupt. From the eldest son, William Henry, Vanderbilt also did not expect anything worthwhile and called him a “sucker” and “idiot”.
But in William, my father was pleasantly deceived. He gave his son a 70 acre farm on Staten Island - just so he could feed the family. However, the son successfully conducted the case, expanding the farm to 350 acres, and then established a railway on Staten Island, which was in decline. When William was 43 years old, the father finally admitted that this son is worthy of participation in the family business.William was a very capable businessman and for 8 years after his father’s death in 1877, he “made” as much money as a father in his whole life. He died the richest man in the world. During the lifetime of his father, William was called a business genius. He survived his father by only eight years, but he left his children no longer the $ 90 million received under a will, but about $ 200 million — in a rather short period of time William Henry doubled his fortune. He became famous for the phrase he told a newspaper correspondent on the occasion of the closure of the Chicago rail route, which turned out to be unprofitable. When they asked him: “Didn't you organize it not for the public good?”, William Henry Vanderbilt clearly answered: “To hell with society! I work for our shareholders. If society needs a train, then why not pay for it”?
At the same time, William Henry was not at all a cruel or evil person. With all the talent of a businessman, he had a certain spiritual sensitivity and lack of stinginess. So, Vanderbilt loaned $ 150,000 to General Ulysses S. Grant (former US president), he took the pledge over the rights to the general’s real estate, his swords and medals.When the general died, William Henry returned all his widow, despite the fact that the debt was never returned.
At the end of his life, Vanderbilt transferred the case to the eldest son of Cornelius Vanderbilt the second, and he himself took up charity work: he transferred $ 1.5 million to Yale University, built a hospital for the medical faculty of Columbia University.
He died in New York and was buried in a family mausoleum at a cemetery in New Dorp on Staten Island, New York.
His descendants were not inclined to do business. They were engaged in charity, supported universities, founded museums and even established sports cups. In the field of their attention got almost everything except business. They gambled money. But after thirty years, none of his descendants, who quickly spent money, could no longer be among the richest Americans. When the 120 descendants of Vanderbilt came together for a family meeting in 1973, there was not a single millionaire among them.
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