Cornelius Vanderbilt built his wealth in shipping and railroads. He was also the patriarch of the Vanderbilt family and one of the richest Americans in history. In today's dollars, his net worth would be $178 billion. His descendants include Gloria Vanderbilt ($200 million) and Anderson Cooper ($100 million).
The Men Who Built America: Review of the History Channel Series
John Davison Rockefeller Sr. was an American business magnate and philanthropist. He was a co-founder of the Standard Oil Company, which dominated the oil industry and was the first great U.S. business trust.
John D. Rockefeller(1839 - 1937) raised himself up to become the richest man in the history of the world. At one point, he possessed the equivalent of $1 trillion dollars today's money -- and there were no income taxes then. He started as a bookkeeper, went into groceries and eventually bought refineries & oil wells, which became Standard Oil. For awhile he owned almost all the oil fields & facilities in America. He spent the last 40 years of his life supporting charities and good causes.
Ida Tarbell - Intelligent, meticulous researcher, considered to be the first female investigative journalist. Credited with the downfall of the most powerful man in America at the time, John D. Rockefeller, and the break up of his Standard Oil monopoly by exposing ruthless company practices. Also famously authored an extensive biography of Lincoln.