Cornelius Vanderbilt

Robber Barron or Captain of Industry?

Line of Business

Cornelius Vanderbilt achieved his goal in the railroad and shipping industry. His business included building his own steam boat, and building Grand Central Railroad.

Advantages and Disadvantages


  • He grew up around shipping because his father shipped his produce.
  • Learned many things when we worked as a ferry captain for a wealthy businessman.


  • He was from a farming family that wasn't very rich.
  • Many people didn't like his ruthless ways.


He treated his competition ruthlessly. For example, the businessman named Gibbons he worked for died and Gibbons' son refused to sell the business to Commodore (Vanderbilt's nickname) so he bought several boats and established the dispatch line. According to he aggressively forced Gibbon's to sell his business.

Worker Treatement

All in all, he was known to very arrogant and greedy which led to treating his workers very poorly. He gave the workers long hours with low wages that weren't fair. There weren't good working conditions either.

Money Spending

According to Vanderbilt donated his largest and fastest steamboat to the Union Navy during the Civil War. He built it for an estimated $1,000,000. Although he gave that generous donation, he only donated 50,000 to a New York church and $1 million to Central University.

Final Decision

Overall, I think Cornelius Vanderbilt is a Robber Barron. He was a very smart and successful man, but he treated people in a very negative way. He was very arrogant and money crazy. I believe he was a successful businessman, but that isn't all there is to life, and he wasn't the best man he could be.