Famous 19th Century American Business People

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Vote for Your Favourite 19th Century American Business People

 1 
John D. Rockefeller
(Businessman)

John D. Rockefeller
11
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.

 2 
P. T. Barnum
(Businessman, Mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut (1875 – 76))

P. T.  Barnum
20
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.

 3 
Henry Ford
(The Founder of the ‘Ford Motor Company’)

Henry Ford
17
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
8
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
10
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
7
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
6
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.

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 8 
George Eastman
(Inventor of Roll Film)

George Eastman
4
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.

 9 
Prescott Bush
(Politician)

Prescott Bush
5
Birthdate: May 15, 1895
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Columbus, Ohio, USA
Died: October 8, 1972

 10 
A'Lelia Walker
(Businesswoman)

A'Lelia Walker
5
Birthdate: June 6, 1885
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Vicksburg, Mississippi, United States
Died: August 17, 1931

 11 
John Jacob Astor IV
(Businessman)

John Jacob Astor IV
10
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.

 12 
John D. Rockefeller Jr.
(Philanthropist & Businessman)

John D. Rockefeller Jr.
5
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
4
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 
Joseph P. Kennedy Sr.
(Business person)

Joseph P. Kennedy Sr.
5
Birthdate: September 6, 1888
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: November 18, 1969

 15 
Milton S. Hershey
(Chocolatier & Businessman)

Milton S. Hershey
4
Birthdate: September 13, 1857
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Derry Township, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: October 13, 1945

 16 
Robert Smalls
(Politician)

Robert Smalls
3
Birthdate: April 5, 1839
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Beaufort, South Carolina, United States
Died: February 23, 1915

 17 
Levi Strauss
(Former businessman known as founder of the Levi Strauss & Co.)

Levi Strauss
3
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.

 18 
Louis B. Mayer
(Film Producer)

Louis B. Mayer
3
Birthdate: July 12, 1884
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Dymer, Kiev Governorate, Russian Empire [now Vyshhorod Raion, Kiev Oblast, Ukraine]
Died: October 29, 1957

 19 

William Henry Vanderbilt
3
Birthdate: May 8, 1821
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New Brunswick, New Jersey, United States
Died: December 8, 1885

 20 
Seth Bullock
(Politician)

Seth Bullock
5
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.

 21 
Amadeo Giannini
(Banker who founded the Bank of Italy, which became Bank of America)

Amadeo Giannini
2
Birthdate: May 6, 1870
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: San Jose, California, United States
Died: June 3, 1949

 22 

Jess McMahon
4
Birthdate: May 26, 1882
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Manhattan, New York, United States
Died: November 22, 1954

 23 
George Westinghouse
(Entrepreneur)

George Westinghouse
3
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.

 24 
Isidor Straus
(U.S. House Representative from New York (1894-1895))

Isidor Straus
3
Birthdate: February 6, 1845
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Otterberg, Germany
Died: April 15, 1912

 25 
Henry Clay Frick
(Industrialist)

Henry Clay Frick
3
Birthdate: December 19, 1849
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: West Overton, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: December 2, 1919

 26 
Jacob Schiff
(Banker, Financier)

Jacob Schiff
2
Birthdate: January 10, 1847
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Frankfurt
Died: September 25, 1920

 27 

J. P. Morgan Jr.
3
Birthdate: September 7, 1867
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Irvington, New York, United States
Died: March 13, 1943

 28 
Samuel Colt
(Inventor)

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
3
Birthdate: April 7, 1860
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Battle Creek
Died: October 6, 1951

 30 
Frederick Trump
(Businessman)

Frederick Trump
1
Birthdate: March 14, 1869
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kallstadt, Germany
Died: May 30, 1918

 31 
Jay Gould
(Businessman)

Jay Gould
4
Birthdate: May 27, 1836
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Roxbury, New York
Died: December 2, 1892

 32 
Ambrose Burnside
(United States Senator from Rhode Island (1875-81))

Ambrose Burnside
3
Birthdate: May 23, 1824
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Liberty, Indiana, United States
Died: September 13, 1881

 33 
Timothy Dexter
(Businessman)

Timothy Dexter
3
Birthdate: January 22, 1747
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Malden, Massachusetts, United States
Died: October 23, 1806

 34 
James Forrestal
(Officer, Banker, Investment banker)

James Forrestal
3
Birthdate: February 15, 1892
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Beacon
Died: May 22, 1949

 35 

Thomas C. Durant
3
Birthdate: February 6, 1820
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lee, Massachusetts, United States
Died: October 5, 1885

 36 
Louis Chevrolet
(Co-founder of the Chevrolet Motor Car Company)

Louis Chevrolet
3
Birthdate: December 25, 1878
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: La Chaux-de-Fonds, 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.

 37 
Leland Stanford
(Entrepreneur)

Leland Stanford
4
Birthdate: March 9, 1824
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Watervliet, New York, United States
Died: June 21, 1893

 38 
John Pemberton
(Pharmacist)

John Pemberton
3
Birthdate: July 8, 1831
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Knoxville, Georgia, United States
Died: August 16, 1888

John Pemberton was an American pharmacist best remembered for his invention of Coca-Cola. A Confederate States Army veteran, Pemberton suffered from a wound sustained during the Battle of Columbus. The injury led him to experiment with different kinds of toxins and painkillers, which in turn helped him invent the recipe to make Coca-Cola.

 39 
C. W. Post
(Nutritionist)

C. W. Post
3
Birthdate: October 26, 1854
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Springfield, Illinois, United States
Died: May 9, 1914

 40 
Harry Warner
(Executive)

Harry Warner
3
Birthdate: December 12, 1881
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Krasnosielc
Died: December 27, 1958

 41 
Benjamin Guggenheim
(Businesspeople)

Benjamin Guggenheim
1
Birthdate: October 26, 1865
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: April 15, 1912

 42 
Asa Griggs Candler
(Businessman)

Asa Griggs Candler
3
Birthdate: December 30, 1851
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Villa Rica, Georgia, United States
Died: March 12, 1929

 43 
Henry J. Kaiser
(Engineer, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist)

Henry J. Kaiser
3
Birthdate: May 9, 1882
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Sprout Brook
Died: August 24, 1967

 44 
Juan T. Trippe
(Entrepreneur)

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

 45 
Cornelius Vanderbilt II
(Businessperson)

Cornelius Vanderbilt II
3
Birthdate: November 11, 1843
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Staten Island, New York, United States
Died: September 12, 1899

 46 
John Deere
(Founder of 'Deere & Company')

John Deere
3
Birthdate: February 7, 1804
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Rutland, Vermont, United States
Died: May 17, 1886

 47 
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

 48 
Thomas J. Watson
(Entrepreneur)

Thomas J. Watson
4
Birthdate: February 17, 1874
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Campbell, New York, United States
Died: June 19, 1956

 49 

Bernard Mannes Baruch
3
Birthdate: August 19, 1870
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Camden, South Carolina, United States
Died: June 20, 1965

 50 
Helena Rubinstein
(Business women)

Helena Rubinstein
3
Birthdate: March 27, 1870
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Kraków, Austrian Poland
Died: April 1, 1965