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Cornelius Vanderbilt and the History of American Capitalism

            During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Gilded Age refers to a time in American History where there was massive economic growth, technological advances, and developments in pop culture. Some of the new technological advances include the telegraph, telephone, and the railroad. Many industrialists were considered robber barons. A robber baron is a capitalist who became wealthy through exploitation whether it's the natural resources, governmental influence or low wages for their workers.  One robber baron during this time is Cornelius Vanderbilt who changed the way trade, transportation, and communication was conducted.  He went from being a poor child who lacked education to the wealthiest Americans during that time. By today's standards, it would be hard to find anyone who would consider Cornelius Vanderbilt to be a nice guy. Yes, he was very wealthy but his character would appear by most observers to be deplorable.  He was unfaithful to his wife Sophia, notably for his many affairs with women of the night, which resulted in his contracting syphilis  - and in turn his wife Sophia. He was unloving towards his children with the exception of his "favorite" son George Washington Vanderbilt, named after our first president and someone who Cornelius rightfully considered a hero. Knowingly, he gave none of his wealth to charity until very late in his life when, Sophia had passed on, he gave a large sum to support Vanderbilt University. Nevertheless, in general, he showed little consideration for others in general. Making money was his one and only driving force – everything else was he could careless about. Vanderbulit was also illiterate; he  would pay someone to take dictation but this should not be considered another unfavorable  aspect of his character given that Vanderbilt grew up in a family without the means to educate him due to their economic status, they were actually poor.

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