T.J. Stiles, author of The First Tycoon, discusses the life of 19th century railroad magnate, Cornelius Vanderbilt. Born humbly on Staten Island, an un-schooled fist fighter, he lived to earn the respect of New York’s social elite and amassed one of the nation’s first impossibly vast fortunes. Stiles contends that Vanderbilt did more than any other individual to shape the economic world today.
What business innovations, including the modern corporation, did Vanderbilt successfully create? How did he rout every competitor? What did President Lincoln ask of him in the Civil War? Why did he, one of the North’s leading business man, embrace the philosophy of the southern Jacksonian Democrats?