Famous 18th Century Businessmen

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Find out more about the greatest 18th Century Business People, including Cornelius Vanderbilt, Mayer Amschel Rothschild, Robert Owen, John Jacob Astor and Richard Arkwright.
Vote for Your Favourite 18th Century Businessmen
 1 
Cornelius Vanderbilt
(Business Tycoon & Philanthropist)
Cornelius Vanderbilt
6
Birthdate: May 27, 1794
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Staten Island
Died: January 4, 1877

Cornelius Vanderbilt was an American business magnate credited with vastly expanding and improving America's transportation infrastructure. For his contributions to the country's railroad industry, Vanderbilt was made an inductee of the North America Railway Hall of Fame in 1999. He is also remembered for providing an initial $1 million endowment to Vanderbilt University, which was named in his honor.

Mayer Amschel Rothschild
3
Birthdate: February 23, 1744
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany
Died: September 19, 1812
The Founding Father of International Finance, Mayer Amschel Rothschild, started what is known as the Rothschild dynasty, which shaped the trajectory of banking and finance in Europe. He had started off as a rare coins dealer and later expanded his banking business through his five sons.
 3 
John Jacob Astor
(Entrepreneur)
John Jacob Astor
3
Birthdate: July 17, 1763
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Walldorf, Germany
Died: March 29, 1848
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Robert Owen
3
Birthdate: May 14, 1771
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Newtown, Montgomeryshire, Wales
Died: November 17, 1858
While working as an apprentice to a clothes manufacturer, Robert Owen often spent hours reading at his employer’s library. He later explored the textile industry and led a Manchester firm. Remembered as a pioneer of the co-operative movement and utopian socialism, he improved the working conditions of factory workers.
 5 
Johns Hopkins
(Entrepreneur & Philanthropist)
Johns Hopkins
3
Birthdate: May 19, 1795
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Anne Arundel County, Maryland, United States
Died: December 24, 1873
 6 
Matthew Boulton
(Businessperson, Engineer)
Matthew Boulton
4
Birthdate: September 3, 1728
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Birmingham, England
Died: August 17, 1809

British manufacturer and engineer Matthew Boulton is best remembered as the financier of Scottish engineer James Watt’s pathbreaking steam engine. His Soho Manufactory initially produced metal parts, and he later stepped into John Roebuck’s shoes to partner with Watt, after Roebuck went bankrupt. He also established the Soho Mint.

 7 
Frederick Trump
(Businessman)
Frederick Trump
1
Birthdate: March 14, 1869
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kallstadt, Germany
Died: May 30, 1918
Nathan Meyer Rothschild
3
Birthdate: September 16, 1777
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Free City of Frankfurt Frankfurt, Holy Roman Empire
Died: July 28, 1836
 9 
Timothy Dexter
(Businessman)
Timothy Dexter
3
Birthdate: January 22, 1747
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Malden, Massachusetts, United States
Died: October 23, 1806
 10 
George Peabody
(Entrepreneur & Philanthropist)
George Peabody
3
Birthdate: February 18, 1795
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Danvers
Died: November 4, 1869
 11 
Robert Morris
(One of the Founding Fathers of the United States)
Robert Morris
3
Birthdate: January 20, 1734
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Liverpool, England
Died: May 8, 1806

Robert Morris was an English-born merchant best remembered as one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was also one of the signers of the United States Constitution, the Articles of Confederation, and the Declaration of Independence. From 1789 to 1795, Robert Morris served as the United States Senator from Pennsylvania.

 12 
Samuel Wilson
(Meat-packer)
Samuel Wilson
3
Birthdate: September 13, 1766
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Arlington, Massachusetts Menotomy, Province of Massachusetts Bay
Died: July 31, 1854
 13 
Elihu Yale
(President of the British East India Company Settlement in Fort St. George, at Madras, India)
Elihu Yale
3
Birthdate: April 5, 1649
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: July 8, 1721

Born in Massachusetts, Elihu Yale moved with his family to Britain at age 3. An East India Company official, he had been the President of Madras and later started a diamond business in London. He later turned into a generous philanthropist and became the main benefactor of what is now Yale University.

 14 
James Mayer de Rothschild
(Banker, Art collector, Economist, Businessperson)
James Mayer de Rothschild
2
Birthdate: May 15, 1792
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Frankfurt
Died: November 15, 1868

German-French banker and the youngest child of Mayer Amschel Rothschild, James Mayer de Rothschild. He took over the reins of his family banking firm after the death of his brother Nathan and headed the French Rothschild banking family. The Légion d'honneur winner later also invested in a vineyard.

 15 
Samuel Slater
(Industrialist)
Samuel Slater
2
Birthdate: June 9, 1768
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Belper, United Kingdom
Died: April 21, 1835
 16 
Peter Cooper
(Industrialist & Inventors)
Peter Cooper
2
Birthdate: February 12, 1791
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York City
Died: April 4, 1883
 17 
Dom Pérignon
2
Birthdate: 1638
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sainte-Menehould, France
Died: September 14, 1715
 18 
Haym Salomon
(Businessman and Principal Financier During the American Revolutionary War)
Haym Salomon
2
Birthdate: April 7, 1740
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Leszno, Poland
Died: January 6, 1785

Polish-American businessman Haym Salomon not only contributed to the establishment of the Philadelphia synagogue Mikveh Israel, but also lent huge amounts of interest-free money to soldiers and other borrowers during the American Revolutionary War. The financier eventually died in poverty, with the American government owing thousands of dollars to him.

 19 
Jean-Baptiste Say
(French Economist and Businessman Best Known for 'Say’s Law' Which He Popularized)
Jean-Baptiste Say
2
Birthdate: January 5, 1767
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lyon, France
Died: November 15, 1832

French economist Jean-Baptiste Say supported free trade and competition. Scholars of economics know him for his law of markets, which states that supply creates its own demand. He had experimented with many jobs, from being a journalist to owning a cotton mill, and eventually became an economics professor.

 20 
Thomas Hutchinson
(Businessman)
Thomas Hutchinson
2
Birthdate: September 9, 1711
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: British America
Died: June 3, 1780
 21 
Stephen Girard
(Sailor, Entrepreneur, Banker)
Stephen Girard
2
Birthdate: May 20, 1750
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bordeaux
Died: December 26, 1831
 22 
Joseph Marie Jacquard
2
Birthdate: July 7, 1752
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Lyon, France
Died: August 7, 1834
 23 
Moses Montefiore
(Financier)
Moses Montefiore
2
Birthdate: October 24, 1784
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Livorno, Italy
Died: July 28, 1885
 24 
Thomas Mifflin
(Politician)
Thomas Mifflin
2
Birthdate: January 10, 1744
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: January 20, 1800
Amschel Mayer Rothschild
2
Birthdate: June 12, 1773
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Frankfurt
Died: December 6, 1855
 26 
Henri de Saint-Simon
(French Political, Economic and Socialist Theorist and and One of the Chief Founders of Christian Socialism)
Henri de Saint-Simon
2
Birthdate: October 17, 1760
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 19, 1825

Henri de Saint-Simon was a French political, economic, and socialist theorist and businessman. His ideology was the inspiration behind the political and economic movement known as Saint-Simonianism. He left a major influence in the fields of politics, economics, sociology, and philosophy of science. His ideas also inspired and influenced the concept of utopian socialism.  

 27 
Eliza Lucas
(American Businesswomen, Scientist and Writer)
Eliza Lucas
2
Birthdate: December 28, 1722
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Antigua, Antigua and Barbuda
Died: May 27, 1793

Eliza Lucas was an agronomist who redefined agriculture in colonial South Carolina by developing indigo as one of the region's most prominent cash crops. The processing of indigo as dye influenced the colony's economy greatly before the Revolutionary War. She was the first woman to be be inducted into the South Carolina's Business Hall of Fame in the 20th century.

 28 
Matthias W. Baldwin
2
Birthdate: December 10, 1795
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Elizabethtown, New Jersey, United States
Died: September 7, 1866
 29 
William Brodie
(Criminal, Politician)
William Brodie
1
Birthdate: September 28, 1741
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: October 1, 1788

William Brodie was a Scottish cabinet-maker, Edinburgh city councilor, and deacon of a trades guild. Brodie was also a housebreaker, a secret which he maintained almost all his life. He used the stolen money to fund his gambling habit and to maintain the household of his two mistresses. He was captured in 1788 and was sentenced to death by hanging.

 30 
Charles R. Walgreen
(American pharmacologist)
Charles R. Walgreen
2
Birthdate: October 9, 1873
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Knoxville, Illinois, United States
Died: December 11, 1939
 31 
Anson Jones
(Politician)
Anson Jones
2
Birthdate: January 20, 1798
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Great Barrington
Died: January 9, 1858
 32 
John Macarthur
(Former Member of Legislative Council of New South Wales)
John Macarthur
2
Birthdate: 1767 AD
Birthplace: Plymouth, England
Died: April 11, 1834
 33 
Madame Clicquot Ponsardin
2
Birthdate: December 16, 1777
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Reims, France
Died: July 29, 1866

Madame Clicquot Ponsardin was a French businesswoman and Champagne producer. Clicquot is best remembered for taking over her husband's business and turning the company into a world-famous Champagne house. Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, the company which still bears her name, is credited with inventing a novel technique called riddling which is still used today to make better Champagne.

William Henry Ashley
2
Birthdate: 1778 AD
Birthplace: Powhatan County, Virginia, United States
Died: March 26, 1838
 35 
Hennig Brand
(Merchant)
Hennig Brand
2
Birthdate: 1630 AD
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany
Died: 1710 AD

Apart from being an army officer and a physician, Hennig Brand was also an alchemist who was constantly looking for the mythical philosopher’s stone. His research led him to discover phosphorus by accident, which he kept a secret, though it was later formally discovered by Robert Boyle from England.

 36 
Simon Cameron
(Politician)
Simon Cameron
2
Birthdate: March 8, 1799
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Maytown, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: June 26, 1889
 37 
Richard Hennessy
(Military personnel and Founder of Hennessy)
Richard Hennessy
1
Birthdate: 1724 AD
Birthplace: Cork, Ireland
Died: October 8, 1800
 38 
James Lick
(Real Estate Investor)
James Lick
3
Birthdate: August 25, 1796
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Fredericksburg, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: October 1, 1876
 39 
James McGill
(Scottish Canadian Businessman and Philanthropist, Best Known for Being the Founder of 'McGill University')
James McGill
2
Birthdate: October 6, 1744
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland
Died: December 19, 1813

James McGill was a Scottish Canadian politician, philanthropist, and businessman best remembered for founding McGill University in Montreal, Canada. One of the most important members of the Château Clique, McGill was also one of the founding members of the famous gentleman's dining club, The Beaver Club.

 40 
John Wilkinson
(Pioneer in cast iron manufacturing)
John Wilkinson
2
Birthdate: 1728 AD
Birthplace: Bridgefoot
Died: July 14, 1808
 41 
Pierre-Esprit Radisson
2
Birthdate: 1636 AD
Birthplace: Avignon, France
Died: 1710 AD

Pierre-Esprit Radisson was a French fur trader and explorer who undertook many adventures with his brother-in-law Médard des Groseilliers. As a young man, he was captured and tortured by the Iroquois though he later managed to escape. He eventually became a successful fur trader and also embarked on several missionary expeditions. The town of Radisson, Quebec is named after him. 

 42 
Henry E. Steinway
(Piano Manufacturer)
Henry E. Steinway
1
Birthdate: February 15, 1797
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Wolfshagen, Germany
Died: February 7, 1871
Carl Mayer von Rothschild
2
Birthdate: April 24, 1788
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Frankfurt
Died: March 10, 1855
 44 
John Walter
(Publisher)
John Walter
1
Birthdate: January 1, 1738
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: London, England
Died: November 16, 1812
 45 
Francis Lewis
(Member of the United States House of Representatives)
Francis Lewis
1
Birthdate: March 21, 1713
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Llandaff
Died: December 31, 1802
 46 
John Slidell
(Politician)
John Slidell
2
Birthdate: 1793 AD
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
Died: July 9, 1871
 47 
John Molson
(Entrepreneur)
John Molson
0
Birthdate: December 28, 1763
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Moulton, England
Died: January 11, 1836
 48 
Daniel Drew
(Businessman)
Daniel Drew
1
Birthdate: July 29, 1797
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Carmel Hamlet, New York, United States
Died: September 18, 1879
 49 
Philip Livingston
(Politician)
Philip Livingston
2
Birthdate: January 15, 1716
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Albany, New York, United States
Died: June 12, 1778
 50 
James Gadsden
(Diplomat)
James Gadsden
1
Birthdate: May 15, 1788
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Charleston, South Carolina, United States
Died: December 26, 1858