Famous 19th Century American Business People

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 P. T. Barnum

P. T.  Barnum.
Famous As: American politician
Birthdate: July 5, 1810
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Bethel
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 Colonel Sanders

Colonel Sanders.
Famous As: Founder of KFC
Birthdate: September 9, 1890
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Henryville, Indiana, United States
Died: December 16, 1980

Colonel Sanders is the man who revolutionized the American fast food industry by founding the restaurant chain Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). Establishing a style trademark by wearing a white suit and black string tie, Sanders went on to become a symbol of the KFC brand. Such is the popularity of the brand, the symbol is recognized all over the world.

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 3 Henry Ford

Henry Ford.
Famous As: Industrialist
Birthdate: July 30, 1863
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Greenfield 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.

 4 John D. Rockefeller

John D. Rockefeller.
Famous As: Businessman
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.

 5 Madam C. J. Walker

Madam C. J. Walker.
Famous As: Entrepreneur
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.

 6 Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie.
Famous As: Industrialist, Businessman, Entrepreneur and a major Philanthropist.
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.

 7 J. P. Morgan

J. P. Morgan.
Famous As: Financier
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.
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 8 Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison.
Famous As: Inventor, Businessman
Birthdate: February 11, 1847
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Milan, Ohio, United States
Died: October 18, 1931

Described as America’s greatest inventor, Thomas Edison’s legacy is an everlasting one. He was the first to help make the incandescent light bulb commercially viable, even though he was not the first inventor of it. Quadruplex telegraph, phonograph, motion picture camera and the alkaline storage battery are some the many innovations that made him a worldwide phenomenon and an icon.

 9 J. Paul Getty

J. Paul Getty.
Famous As: Businessman
Birthdate: December 15, 1892
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S
Died: June 6, 1976

As the patriarch of the Getty family, J. Paul Getty was an influential petrol-industrialist who founded the Getty Oil Company. In 1966, Paul made it to the Guinness Book of Records as the world's richest private citizen. An avid collector of antiquities and art, his collection is preserved at the J. Paul Getty Museum in California.

 10 William Randolph Hearst

William Randolph Hearst.
Famous As: Newspaper Baron
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.

 11 Conrad Hilton

Conrad Hilton.
Famous As: American Hotelier and Businessman
Birthdate: December 25, 1887
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: San Antonio, New Mexico Territory, United States of America
Died: January 3, 1979

Conrad Hilton was an American politician and businessman credited with founding the popular multinational hospitality company, Hilton Hotels Corporation. He is also the founder of a non-profit charitable organization called Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, which aims at ending human suffering worldwide. In 1996, the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize was created by the foundation in the memory of Conrad Hilton.

 12 George Eastman

George Eastman.
Famous As: Inventor of Roll Film
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.

 13 Prescott Bush

Prescott Bush
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: May 15, 1895
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Columbus, Ohio, USA
Died: October 8, 1972

 14 A'Lelia Walker

A'Lelia Walker
Famous As: Businesswoman
Birthdate: June 6, 1885
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Vicksburg, Mississippi, United States
Died: August 17, 1931

 15 John Jacob Astor IV

John Jacob Astor IV.
Famous As: Businessman
Birthdate: July 13, 1864
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Rhinebeck
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.

 16 Andrew William Mellon

Andrew William Mellon.
Famous As: Industrialist, Philanthropist
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.

 17 John Harvey Kellogg

John Harvey Kellogg.
Famous As: Doctor, Inventor
Birthdate: February 26, 1852
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Tyrone Township, Livingston County, Michigan
Died: December 14, 1943
Physician, nutritionist, and businessman John Harvey Kellogg served as the director of the Battle Creek Sanitarium, which was a combination of a European spa, a hydrotherapy center, a hospital, and a hotel. He believed in biologic living. However, he is best remembered as the inventor of corn flakes.

 18 Joseph P. Kennedy Sr.

Joseph P. Kennedy Sr.
Famous As: Business person
Birthdate: September 6, 1888
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: November 18, 1969

 19 Robert Smalls

Robert Smalls.
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: April 5, 1839
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Beaufort, South Carolina, United States
Died: February 23, 1915

 20 Milton S. Hershey

Milton S. Hershey.
Famous As: Confectioner & Philanthropist
Birthdate: September 13, 1857
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Derry Township
Died: October 13, 1945

 21 George Hearst

George Hearst.
Famous As: Former United States Senator
Birthdate: September 3, 1820
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Sullivan, Missouri, United States
Died: February 28, 1891

 22 Jess McMahon

Jess McMahon
Famous As: Boxer
Birthdate: May 26, 1882
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Manhattan, New York, United States
Died: November 22, 1954

 23 Seth Bullock

Seth Bullock
Famous As: Politician
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.

 24 George Westinghouse

George Westinghouse.
Famous As: Entrepreneur
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.

 25 Isidor Straus

Isidor Straus.
Famous As: Businessman
Birthdate: February 6, 1845
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Palatinate
Died: April 15, 1912

 26 Amadeo Giannini

Amadeo Giannini
Famous As: Banker, Entrepreneur
Birthdate: May 6, 1870
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: San Jose
Died: June 3, 1949

 27 Louis B. Mayer

Louis B. Mayer
Famous As: Film Producer
Birthdate: July 12, 1884
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Dymer, Kiev Governorate, Russian Empire [now Vyshhorod Raion, Kiev Oblast, Ukraine]
Died: October 29, 1957

 28 William Henry Vanderbilt

William Henry Vanderbilt
Famous As: Businessman
Birthdate: May 8, 1821
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New Brunswick, New Jersey, United States
Died: December 8, 1885

 29 Jacob Schiff

Jacob Schiff
Famous As: Banker, Financier
Birthdate: January 10, 1847
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Frankfurt
Died: September 25, 1920

 30 Henry Clay Frick

Henry Clay Frick.
Famous As: Businessman
Birthdate: December 19, 1849
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: West Overton, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: December 2, 1919

 31 Eddie Rickenbacker

Eddie Rickenbacker.
Famous As: Aviator, Racecar Driver, Military Personnel
Birthdate: October 8, 1890
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Columbus, Ohio, US
Died: July 23, 1973

 32 John D. Rockefeller Jr.

John D. Rockefeller Jr..
Famous As: Philanthropist & Businessman
Birthdate: January 29, 1874
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio
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.

 33 Samuel Colt

Samuel Colt.
Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: July 19, 1814
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Hartford, Connecticut, United States
Died: January 10, 1862

 34 J. P. Morgan Jr.

J. P. Morgan Jr..
Famous As: Banker
Birthdate: September 7, 1867
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Irvington, New York, United States
Died: March 13, 1943

 35 Will Keith Kellogg

Will Keith Kellogg.
Famous As: Founder of the Kellogg Company
Birthdate: April 7, 1860
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Battle Creek
Died: October 6, 1951

 36 Thomas C. Durant

Thomas C. Durant.
Famous As: Investor
Birthdate: February 6, 1820
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lee, Massachusetts, United States
Died: October 5, 1885

 37 Jay Gould

Jay Gould.
Famous As: Businessman
Birthdate: May 27, 1836
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Roxbury, New York
Died: December 2, 1892

 38 Leland Stanford

Leland Stanford
Famous As: Entrepreneur
Birthdate: March 9, 1824
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Watervliet, New York, United States
Died: June 21, 1893

 39 James Forrestal

James Forrestal
Famous As: Officer, Banker, Investment banker
Birthdate: February 15, 1892
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Beacon
Died: May 22, 1949

 40 Louis Chevrolet

Louis Chevrolet.
Famous As: Founder of the Chevrolet Motor Car Company
Birthdate: December 25, 1878
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: La Chaux-de-Fonds, Canton of Neuch√Ętel, Switzerland
Died: June 6, 1941

Louis Chevrolet was a Swiss race car driver. He is credited with co-founding the Chevrolet Motor Car Company, which is currently a major manufacturer of cars. He is also credited with founding the Frontenac Motor Corporation. Louis Chevrolet was inducted into several halls of fame, including the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.

 41 Harry Warner

Harry Warner.
Famous As: Executive
Birthdate: December 12, 1881
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Krasnosielc
Died: December 27, 1958

 42 C. W. Post

C. W. Post
Famous As: Nutritionist
Birthdate: October 26, 1854
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Springfield, Illinois, United States
Died: May 9, 1914

 43 Asa Griggs Candler

Asa Griggs Candler.
Famous As: Businessman
Birthdate: December 30, 1851
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Villa Rica, Georgia, United States
Died: March 12, 1929

 44 Samuel P. Bush

Samuel P. Bush
Famous As: Businessperson
Birthdate: October 4, 1863
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Orange, USA
Died: February 8, 1948

 45 Juan T. Trippe

Juan T. Trippe
Famous As: Entrepreneur
Birthdate: June 27, 1899
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Seabright, New Jersey, United States
Died: April 3, 1981

 46 William C. Durant

William C. Durant.
Famous As: Entrepreneur
Birthdate: December 9, 1861
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: March 18, 1947

 47 Cornelius Vanderbilt II

Cornelius Vanderbilt II
Famous As: Businessperson
Birthdate: November 11, 1843
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Staten Island, New York, United States
Died: September 12, 1899

 48 Timothy Dexter

Timothy Dexter
Famous As: Businessman
Birthdate: January 22, 1747
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Malden, Massachusetts, United States
Died: October 23, 1806

 49 Henry J. Kaiser

Henry J. Kaiser
Famous As: Engineer, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist
Birthdate: May 9, 1882
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Sprout Brook
Died: August 24, 1967

 50 Jolie Gabor

Jolie Gabor.
Famous As: Entrepreneur, Socialite
Birthdate: September 29, 1896
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Budapest
Died: April 1, 1997