Famous 19th Century American Business People

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 1 
P. T. Barnum
(Mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut from 1875 to 1876)
P. T.  Barnum
33
Birthdate: July 5, 1810
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Bethel, Connecticut, United States
Died: April 7, 1891

P. T. Barnum was an American politician, showman, and businessman. He is credited with founding the famous Barnum & Bailey Circus, which ran for 146 years. He is also credited with co-founding the Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Company, which is one of the oldest American ferry companies. His life and work have inspired many films, including The Greatest Showman.

 2 
John D. Rockefeller
(American Businessman and Founder of the 'Standard Oil Company')
John D. Rockefeller
23
Birthdate: July 8, 1839
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Richford, New York, United States
Died: May 23, 1937

Widely regarded as the richest person in modern history and the wealthiest American ever, John D. Rockefeller was a business magnate who founded the Standard Oil Company. He was America’s first billionaire. He also defined the structure of modern philanthropy as the foundations created by him had a major effect on scientific research, medicine, and education.

 3 
Henry Ford
(The Founder of the ‘Ford Motor Company’)
Henry Ford
26
Birthdate: July 30, 1863
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Springwells Township, Michigan, United States
Died: April 7, 1947

Business magnate and founder of the Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford is credited to have made the automobile an accessible conveyance for Americans in the 20th century. Following the success of his company, he became one of the richest and best-known people in the world. He also became known for his pacifism during the first years of World War I.

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 4 
Madam C. J. Walker
(Entrepreneur)
Madam C. J. Walker
15
Birthdate: December 23, 1867
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Delta, Louisiana, United States
Died: May 25, 1919
Madam C.J. Walker is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the first female self-made American millionaire. She manufactured and promoted a cosmetic-and-hair-care line catering to black women, through the Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company. She was also the richest African-American businesswoman when she died.
 5 
Andrew Carnegie
(Industrialist, Businessman, Entrepreneur and a major Philanthropist.)
Andrew Carnegie
23
Birthdate: November 25, 1835
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Dunfermline
Died: August 11, 1919
Andrew Carnegie revolutionized the 19th-century steel industry by investing in railroads, bridges, and other projects. He donated most of his wealth to philanthropic causes, and built significant establishments, such as the Carnegie Hall and the Carnegie Mellon University. In the Gospel of Wealth, he urged the wealthy to donate.
 6 
J. P. Morgan
(Financier)
J. P. Morgan
16
Birthdate: April 17, 1837
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Hartford, Connecticut, United States
Died: March 31, 1913
J.P. Morgan was an iconic figure of the economic boom of the Gilded Age and established the investment banking firm J.P. Morgan & Co. He also controlled companies such as U.S. Steel, General Electric, and AT&T. He prevented the American economy from collapsing during the Panic of 1907.
 7 
William Randolph Hearst
(Newspaper Baron)
William Randolph Hearst
8
Birthdate: April 29, 1863
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: San Francisco, California, United States
Died: August 14, 1951

William Randolph Hearst was an American newspaper publisher, businessman, and politician. He is credited with developing America's largest newspaper chain, Hearst Communications. Today, Hearst Communications has grown into a multinational business information and mass media conglomerate. William Randolph Hearst’s life and work inspired the creation of Charles Foster Kane, the main character in the 1941 drama film, Citizen Kane.

 8 
Jesse James
(American Entrepreneur, Automotive Mechanic and Television Personality)
Jesse James
5
Birthdate: April 19, 1969
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Long Beach, California, United States
 9 
George Eastman
(Inventor of Roll Film)
George Eastman
6
Birthdate: July 12, 1854
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Waterville
Died: March 14, 1932

George Eastman revolutionized the world of photography with his Eastman Kodak Company and the roll film, which also came to be used in movies. Initially a banker, he later devoted himself to his camera company. A dedicated philanthropist, too, he contributed financially to music, dentistry, and medicine.

 10 
John Jacob Astor IV
(Businessman, Investor, and Founder of the ‘Waldorf-Astoria Hotel’)
John Jacob Astor IV
13
Birthdate: July 13, 1864
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Rhinebeck Village, Rhinebeck, New York, United States
Died: April 15, 1912
Business tycoon, real-estate developer, and writer John Jacob "Jack" Astor IV had also served in the Spanish–American War. He belonged to the famed Astor family of New York. Astor died in the tragic sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912 and was the richest passenger aboard the liner.
 11 
A'Lelia Walker
(Businesswoman)
A'Lelia Walker
6
Birthdate: June 6, 1885
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Vicksburg, Mississippi, United States
Died: August 17, 1931
 12 
John D. Rockefeller Jr.
(American Financier, Philanthropist and the Only Son of 'Standard Oil' Co-Founder John D. Rockefeller)
John D. Rockefeller Jr.
7
Birthdate: January 29, 1874
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio, United States
Died: May 11, 1960

Financier and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. Was the only son of Standard Oil co-founder, John D. Rockefeller. An alumnus of Brown University, he was very principled and careful with money from an early age. He joined his father’s business and went on to become one of the largest real estate holders in Manhattan.

 13 
Andrew William Mellon
(Industrialist, Philanthropist)
Andrew William Mellon
5
Birthdate: March 24, 1855
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: August 27, 1937

The son of wealthy Pittsburgh banker Thomas Mellon, Andrew William Mellon had followed in his father’s footsteps, to be a banker. He had also been the American ambassador to the U.K. and the American secretary of the treasury. He owned companies such as Alcoa, Old Overholt whiskey, and Gulf Oil.

 14 
Robert Smalls
(Politician)
Robert Smalls
4
Birthdate: April 5, 1839
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Beaufort, South Carolina, United States
Died: February 23, 1915
 15 
Milton S. Hershey
(Chocolatier & Businessman)
Milton S. Hershey
5
Birthdate: September 13, 1857
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Derry Township, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: October 13, 1945
 16 
Levi Strauss
(Former businessman known as founder of the Levi Strauss & Co.)
Levi Strauss
4
Birthdate: February 26, 1829
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Buttenheim, Germany
Died: September 26, 1902

Levi Strauss, the man behind the iconic clothing brand Levi Strauss & Co., or Levi's, which was also the first blue-jeans-manufacturing firm, was born in Germany and later moved to the US. It is rumored that his jeans were meant for the labor class, and he himself had never worn a pair.

 17 
Joseph P. Kennedy Sr.
(Business person)
Joseph P. Kennedy Sr.
7
Birthdate: September 6, 1888
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: November 18, 1969
 18 
Frederick Winslow Taylor
(American Mechanical Engineer Known for His Methods to Improve Industrial Efficiency)
Frederick Winslow Taylor
4
Birthdate: March 20, 1856
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: March 21, 1915

American inventor, mechanical engineer and an accomplished tennis and golf player, Frederick Winslow Taylor, regarded as the father of scientific management, sought to improve industrial efficiency. His approach on scientific management, referred to as Taylorism, has significantly influenced development of industrial engineering and production management. His monograph, The Principles of Scientific Management, laid out his views on principles of scientific management.

 19 
Louis B. Mayer
(Canadian-American Film Producer Who Co-Founded Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
Louis B. Mayer
4
Birthdate: July 12, 1884
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Dymer, Kiev Governorate, Russian Empire [now Vyshhorod Raion, Kiev Oblast, Ukraine]
Died: October 29, 1957
Height: 5'6" (168 cm)
 20 
William Henry Vanderbilt
(Businessman)
William Henry Vanderbilt
5
Birthdate: May 8, 1821
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New Brunswick, New Jersey, United States
Died: December 8, 1885
 21 
Seth Bullock
(Politician)
Seth Bullock
6
Birthdate: July 23, 1849
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Amherstburg, Canada
Died: September 23, 1919

Canadian-American frontiersman, hardware store owner, sheriff, U.S. Marshal, horse breeder and hotel owner Seth Bullock is best known for building the Bullock Hotel, the oldest hotel in Deadwood. Bullock was appointed the first sheriff of the then lawless Dakota where he eventually emerged as a prominent figure civilizing the rowdy camp without killing anyone.

 22 
James A. Bailey
(American Owner and Manager of Several 19th-Century Circuses)
James A. Bailey
4
Birthdate: July 4, 1847
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States
Died: April 11, 1906

James A. Bailey was an American impresario and circus ringmaster. He is credited with co-founding one of the greatest circus companies of all time, Barnum and Bailey's Circus. A year after his death, his widow sold the circus to the Ringling brothers, resulting in the formation of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

 23 
Isidor Straus
(U.S. House Representative from New York (1894-1895))
Isidor Straus
4
Birthdate: February 6, 1845
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Otterberg, Germany
Died: April 15, 1912
 24 
Amadeo Giannini
(Founder of 'Bank of America')
Amadeo Giannini
4
Birthdate: May 6, 1870
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: San Jose, California, United States
Died: June 3, 1949

Amadeo Giannini was an American banker best remembered for founding the Bank of Italy, which later became Bank of America. He is credited with inventing numerous modern banking practices. Amadeo Giannini is also credited with establishing one of the first trans-national institutions.

 25 
George Westinghouse
(American Entrepreneur and Engineer Who Invented the ‘Railway Air Brake’)
George Westinghouse
4
Birthdate: October 6, 1846
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Central Bridge, New York, United States
Died: March 12, 1914

Inventor and entrepreneur George Westinghouse was mostly responsible for introducing the U.S. to alternating current (AC). Initially part of the army and the navy, the talented engineer began his journey of inventions with the rotary steam engine and went on to invent several products, such as air brakes.

 26 
Henry Clay Frick
(Industrialist)
Henry Clay Frick
5
Birthdate: December 19, 1849
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: West Overton, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: December 2, 1919
 27 
J. P. Morgan Jr.
(American Finance Executive, Banker and Philanthropist)
J. P. Morgan Jr.
4
Birthdate: September 7, 1867
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Irvington, New York, United States
Died: March 13, 1943

J. P. Morgan Jr. was an American finance executive, banker, and philanthropist. He became the head of the investment banking institution, J.P. Morgan & Co., after his father J. P. Morgan's demise in 1913. J. P. Morgan Jr. was also an important philanthropist, who donated his London residence to the U.S. government in 1920.

 28 
Samuel Colt
(American Inventor, Industrialist, and Businessman)
Samuel Colt
4
Birthdate: July 19, 1814
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Hartford, Connecticut, United States
Died: January 10, 1862
 29 
Will Keith Kellogg
(Founder of the Kellogg Company)
Will Keith Kellogg
4
Birthdate: April 7, 1860
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Battle Creek
Died: October 6, 1951
 30 
Cornelius Vanderbilt II
(Businessperson)
Cornelius Vanderbilt II
4
Birthdate: November 11, 1843
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Staten Island, New York, United States
Died: September 12, 1899
 31 
Jacob Schiff
(German-born American Banker & Philanthropist Who Financed the Expansion of American Railroads)
Jacob Schiff
3
Birthdate: January 10, 1847
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Frankfurt
Died: September 25, 1920

Jacob Schiff was a German-born American banker, philanthropist, and businessman. He is credited with financing the expansion of American railroads. Jacob Schiff also played an important role during the Russo-Japanese War where he helped finance the Japanese military efforts.  

 32 
Jay Gould
(American Railroad Executive, Financier, and Speculator)
Jay Gould
5
Birthdate: May 27, 1836
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Roxbury, New York, United States
Died: December 2, 1892
 33 
Timothy Dexter
(Businessman)
Timothy Dexter
4
Birthdate: January 22, 1747
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Malden, Massachusetts, United States
Died: October 23, 1806
 34 
Ambrose Burnside
(United States Senator from Rhode Island (1875-81))
Ambrose Burnside
4
Birthdate: May 23, 1824
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Liberty, Indiana, United States
Died: September 13, 1881
 35 
James Forrestal
(1st United States Secretary of Defense (1947 - 1949))
James Forrestal
4
Birthdate: February 15, 1892
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Beacon
Died: May 22, 1949

James Forrestal was an American financier who served as the first US Secretary of Defense from 1947 to 1949. He is also remembered for his service as the US Secretary of the Navy from 1944 to 1947. James Forrestal was honored with the Medal of Merit and the Distinguished Service Medal by President Harry S. Truman.

 36 
Thomas C. Durant
4
Birthdate: February 6, 1820
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lee, Massachusetts, United States
Died: October 5, 1885
 37 
C. W. Post
(Nutritionist)
C. W. Post
4
Birthdate: October 26, 1854
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Springfield, Illinois, United States
Died: May 9, 1914
 38 
Frederick Trump
(Businessman)
Frederick Trump
3
Birthdate: March 14, 1869
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kallstadt, Germany
Died: May 30, 1918
 39 
Asa Griggs Candler
(Businessman)
Asa Griggs Candler
4
Birthdate: December 30, 1851
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Villa Rica, Georgia, United States
Died: March 12, 1929
 40 
Leland Stanford
(Entrepreneur)
Leland Stanford
5
Birthdate: March 9, 1824
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Watervliet, New York, United States
Died: June 21, 1893
 41 
William C. Durant
(Co-founder of the General Motors and Chevrolet)
William C. Durant
5
Birthdate: December 8, 1861
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: March 18, 1947
 42 
Henry J. Kaiser
(Engineer, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist)
Henry J. Kaiser
4
Birthdate: May 9, 1882
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Sprout Brook
Died: August 24, 1967
 43 
Harry Warner
(Executive)
Harry Warner
4
Birthdate: December 12, 1881
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Krasnosielc, Poland
Died: December 27, 1958
 44 
Samuel P. Bush
(Businessperson)
Samuel P. Bush
4
Birthdate: October 4, 1863
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Orange, USA
Died: February 8, 1948
 45 
John Deere
(Founder of 'Deere & Company')
John Deere
4
Birthdate: February 7, 1804
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Rutland, Vermont, United States
Died: May 17, 1886
 46 
Charles M. Schwab
(American Steel Magnate & Businessman)
Charles M. Schwab
4
Birthdate: February 18, 1862
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Williamsburg, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: October 18, 1939
 47 
H. L. Hunt
(Businessman)
H. L. Hunt
5
Birthdate: February 17, 1889
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Illinois
Died: November 29, 1974
 48 
Archibald Gracie IV
(American Historian, Writer and Investor)
Archibald Gracie IV
3
Birthdate: January 15, 1858
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Mobile, Alabama, United States
Died: December 4, 1912

Best known as the author of The Truth About The Titanic (currently Titanic: A Survivor's Story), Archibald Gracie IV was one of the few who survived the sinking of RMS Titanic. Beginning his career as colonel of the 7th New York Militia, he later became a real estate agent, concurrently carrying out researches on history, particularly the Battle of Chickamauga.

 49 
Marcus Goldman
(American Investment Banker and Founder of the Global Investment Bank 'Goldman Sachs')
Marcus Goldman
3
Birthdate: December 9, 1821
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Trappstadt, Germany
Died: July 20, 1904

Legendary American investment banker Marcus Goldman was born into a German Jewish family of farmers and was part of the first wave of Jewish immigration to America. He went from being a peddler to founding Goldman Sachs, which is now one of the largest investment banks of the world.

 50 
Bernard Mannes Baruch
(Financier)
Bernard Mannes Baruch
4
Birthdate: August 19, 1870
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Camden, South Carolina, United States
Died: June 20, 1965