This is the sixth in my series of posts about the five businessmen the History Channel profiled in a terribly inaccurate and un-historical TV miniseries titled The Men Who Built America. I’m writing these posts in response to several comments and e-mails from TV viewers who have expressed interest in a more accurate version of the story. (Click here to see all Al’s columns on the program and its subjects.)
Post #6: Vanderbilt Crosses the Atlantic
In April of 1855, in the middle of his feud with Garrison and Morgan, Vanderbilt announced the opening of a trans-Atlantic ship line. He called it the European Line. His ongoing fight over Accessory Transit may have made the Commodore a little gun-shy about publicly traded companies; he created the European Line as a private company. Although the great majority of Atlantic traffic was still being carried by sailing ships at that time, Vanderbilt focused exclusively on steamships.