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Cornelius Vanderbilt, also known as the sobriquet Commodore was born on May 27, 1794. He was an American businessman who made his fortune thanks to the transportation by ship and rail business. He was the patriarch of the Vanderbilt family. Vanderbilt was the fourth of nine children of Cornelius Vanderbilt and Phebe Hand, whose modest family lived in Port Richmond, Staten Island (NYC).
Cornelius Vanderbilt married on December 19, 1813 with his cousin and neighbor, Sophia Johnson (1795-1868), daughter of his aunt Elizabeth Hand Johnson, who was the sister of his mother. They had 13 children, and 12of them reached adulthood.
As a young boy Cornelius Vanderbilt worked at ferries of New York, He gave up school at the age of 11 and when he was 16 years old he was already operating his own business of passengers’ transportation between Staten Island and Manhattan. In 1818 he turned his attention to steamships but New York law granted to Robert Fulton and Robert Livingston a legal monopoly on steam boat traffic, which legally prohibited competition. After some years fighting against that monopoly, Vanderbilt brought the case to the Supreme Court of the United States and finally ended the monopoly of Fulton and Livingston, and in a short time Vanderbilt built his own steamship transportation empire, the biggest at that time.
At Beginning in the 1860s, Vanderbilt started withdrawing capital of the shipping business and investing in railways. In October 1871, Vanderbilt began a partnership with New York Railroad and New Haven.
Cornelius Vanderbilt pass away at the age 82, at that time his fortune was estimated in over 100 million. In his will, he disowned all his children except William, who was as ruthless in business as his father and got 95% of the fortune.