This is the second in my series of posts about the five businessmen the History Channel profiled in a terribly un-historical miniseries titled The Men Who Built America. You can click here to read Part 1.
Post #2: Cornelius Vanderbilt’s Early Career
The History Channel exaggerated Cornelius Vanderbilt’s role in the post-Civil War railroad industry to some extent. By 1968, the year where the History program really starts, Vanderbilt was in his mid-seventies and suffering from syphilis-related dementia, and his son William was for all intents and purposes running his businesses.
At any rate the really remarkable part of the Cornelius Vanderbilt story is the early years, when he started with nothing and achieved tremendous success.