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Wealth and American Culture. Reading and response. Also can use google etc to answer the following Nursing Essay

THE DuPONTS ~ Eleuthere Irenee DuPont (1771-1834) fled Paris during the French Revolution. ~ Using the experience he had at the French royal powder works and financing from his father, he began to manufacture gunpowder in Delaware. ~ His company profited from government contracts during the War of 1812. ~ Henry DuPont (1812-1889) followed in his father’s footsteps. ~ After graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. he entered the family business. ~ Under Henry’s leadership the company marketed gunpowder abroad and explosives for mining and railroad construction at home. ~ Henry actively managed the business through his 500 field agents with whom he corresponded constantly, writing approximately 6,000 letters per year. Poor Henry must have had writer’s cramp because not even the typewriter was available for most of his lifetime. My how he would have loved e-mail! THE ASTORS: THE ESSENTIALS ~ John Jacob Astor (1763-1848), born in the German States, emigrated from his homeland going first to London where he worked with his brother in a musical instruments business and then to the U.S. shortly after the American Revolution. ~ Icebound in Baltimore harbor upon his arrival in America, he passed the time by socializing with fellow passengers and in the process learned about the potential for enormous profits in the fur trade. ~ After working in New York City for a few years he headed to the Oregon Territory where his Astoria fur trading operation produced handsome profits. ~ In time competition, less than A+ management of the business (remember no B schools and M.B.A.s back then), and the driving out of furbearing animals by encroaching settlements caused Astor to bail out. ~ Taking the money he had accumulated in the fur trade he headed to the Big Apple and invested in Manhattan real estate which he rented to tenants. ~ When he died in 1848 this immigrant from Central Europe by way of England was the richest man in the U.S. with a fortune totaling approximately $20,000,000. ~ One of John Jacob Astor’s sons, William Backhouse Astor (1792-1875) followed in his father’s footsteps. His older brother, who was his father’s namesake, was bypassed because of a developmental disability. ~ Known as the “landlord of New York” William devoted his spare time to the Astor Library, an endowed institution open to the public. The library became part of the New York Public Library in time. ~ At the time of his death in 1875 William was worth $50,000,000. Some of this was inherited wealth, the bulk of it from his father, and a half million from an uncle who was a successful butcher in New York but most of it represented what William himself had accumulated through his real estate activities. ~ John Jacob Astor II (1822-1890), son of William Backhouse Astor, was the first member of the family to obtain a formal education. He graduated from Columbia University and earned a law degree at Harvard. ~ So involved was he in the Astor Library that he passed up an opportunity to become the American minister to Great Britain to stay in New York where he could guide the future of the library. ~ He was also very involved in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His wife’s collection of rare and costly lace was donated to the museum. ~ A connoisseur of fine wines and cigars, he left a fortune estimated at between $75,000,000 and $100,000,000 when he died in 1890. ~ William Waldorf Astor (1848-1919), son of John Jacob II, was a graduate of the Columbia University School of Law. ~ His public career included service as a U.S. Senator and as ambassador to Italy. While abroad he authored a book on Italian history. ~ Fearful of the potential for kidnapping during a period of working class unrest in the U.S., a topic which we shall explore a bit later, he settled in Great Britain where he acquired a noble title. ~ His fortune was estimated at $80,000,000 when he died in 1919. ~ John Jacob Astor IV (1864-1912), son of William Backhouse Astor, Jr. , was an inventor who patented a bicycle brake. ~ Divorced from his first wife, he was traveling, with his pregnant second wife, on the Titanic. His wife was rescued but he went down with the ship. THE VANDERBILTS ~ Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877) was born on Staten Island, N.Y. Bored with school he convinced his parents to allow him to drop out whereupon he began to work on boats in New York harbor. ~ As a teenager he acquired a small boat and went into the lightering or freight removal business. ~ A government contract to deliver supplies to the forts ringing New York harbor during the War of 1812 laid the foundation for a boating business on Long Island Sound and in the coastal trade. ~ After selling his vessels Vanderbilt went to work for Thomas Gibbons and returned his steamboat business to profitability. ~ In 1829 Vanderbilt struck out on his own again establishing a successful steamboat business on Long Island Sound and the Hudson River. ~ He subsequently established a new route to California through Central America and was involved in Atlantic shipping. In addition to his shipping empire Vanderbilt acquired railroads which were merged into the New York Central System. ~ After the death of his long-suffering first wife whom he sent to Bloomingdale’s (not the store but the asylum in northern Manhattan)when, during a mid-life crisis, she refused to move from the family’s Staten Island mansion to a townhouse in Manhattan, the Commodore became involved with two “girls”, Victoria Woodhull and her sister,Tennessee Claflin, who had come to New York in quest of opportunity. ~ The Commodore’s family was concerned about the girls’ influence upon their father. Their residency in his townhouse and Tennessee’s spiritualism were not to the liking of the Vanderbilt children, one of whom, William Henry, arranged for distant cousins from the south to visit New York. The older of these two women was viewed as a suitable marriage prospect for the aging Commodore but he preferred the woman’s daughter, Frank Crawford, whose first name, like that of Tennessee Claflin,was a bit unusual. Frank and the Commodore were married but despite the fact that she was decades younger than her husband, Frank outlived him by only a few years. Although Frank and her mother were accorded lifetime occupancy of the Commodore’s New York home, the bulk of the Commodore’s estate, estimated at almost $200,000,000 went to William Henry with Frank receiving less than a million and New York Central stock. ~ The Commodore’s eight daughters had to share $3,000,000. They contested the will. Part of their strategy involved using Woodhull and Claflin as witnesses to testify that the Commodore was not in his right mind when he drafted his final will. William Henry, however, allegedly paid the “girls” off and then shipped them to England where they married quite well. Victoria returned to the U.S. periodically, though, and went on the lecture circuit preaching one of her old themes: free love! ~ William Henry Vanderbilt (1821-1885), who reached a settlement with his sisters, was a puny child whose father feared he would never amount to anything. ~ As a young man he was employed as a banking clerk but his poor health made him opt for outdoors work as a farmer. ~ When an opportunity to rehabilitate a small railroad on Staten Island presented itself, William Henry abandoned the fields and embraced business. He would go on to become the Vice President of the New York and Harlem Railroad and the principal organizer of the New York Central System. ~ “The public be damned!”, a controversial statement attributed to William Henry Vanderbilt in 1883, reflected the attitude of big businessmen towards their customers. ~ Although he outlived his father by less than a decade, in that short time, he doubled the Vanderbilt fortune and upon his death left $ 10,000,000 to each of his eight children and bequests to Vanderbilt University and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. ~ One of those lucky offspring who inherited a cool ten million, Cornelius Vanderbilt II (1843-1899), eldest of William Henry’s sons, moved up through the ranks at the New York Central. Starting as assistant treasurer of the railroad, he became chairman of the board. A hard worker, he was usually at his desk before any of the employees arrived. ~ When he was not working he was serving on the boards of hospitals and institutions of higher education and was providing generous gifts to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. ~ Cornelius II’s brother, William Kissam Vanderbilt (1849-1920) was a vice president of the New York Central and a money manager for the family’s investments. ~ He was also a noted sportsman in an era when leisure time pursuits were as important as hard work. Horses and yachts were his principal sporting interests. ~ In contrast with his brothers, George Washington Vanderbilt (1862-1914) was studious and reclusive. His principal interests were reading, scientific forestry and stockbreeding. What accounts for the success of American business from the colonial period through the first half of the 19th century? Which of the following was the single most important factor in the development of business: governmental stimuli, individual initiative or new inventions?

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