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Word Count: 2,300
Cornelius Vanderbilt known for most of his life as the Commodore is perhaps the best known of American rags to riches stories Lacking any real education the hard work personality and keen business sense possessed by Vanderbilt catapulted him from being a poor child on a farm to being the wealthiest industrialist in America Vanderbilt was born the fourth child to a poor farmer and his wife during Americas early agrarian society of 1794 in rural Staten Island New York harbor Not only was he financially unable to get a respectable formal education past the age of eleven but also he had a dislike for schools and books and understandably so for the norm of education in the 18th century a plodding one of memorization without thought or understanding did not suit the young Vanderbilts clever mind But what Vanderbilt lacked in academia he made up for in with his intense competitiveness throughout his life From childhood when he nearly drowned a horse while racing with it against a neighboring slave boy two years older to later in his life when his business ventures were more inspired by his desire to win than by his desire for wealth he displayed a remarkable will to succeed At the age of 16 Vanderbilt founded the Staten Island fairy with a 100 loan from his mother After its first year in operation the young Cornelius was able to repay his mother the 100and an extra 1000 as well not a bad return for her investment The Commodores unprecedented wealth came through his involvement in the area of transportation initially by boat Up to the age of twenty-four Vanderbilt had been making a respectable living as a reliable provider of transportation through sailboats but with the implementation of the steamboat Clermont by Robert Fulton among others Vanderbilt decided that his future lay in steamboating However Vanderbilt was never one to make decisions unwisely Vanderbilt rarely was
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