19th Century Business People

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Find out more about the greatest 19th Century Entrepreneurs, including Thomas Edison, John D. Rockefeller, Alexander Graham Bell, Henry Ford and Andrew Carnegie.
Vote for Your Favourite 19th Century Business People
 1 
P. T. Barnum
(Mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut from 1875 to 1876)
P. T.  Barnum
25
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
15
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
22
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
10
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.
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 5 
Andrew Carnegie
(Industrialist, Businessman, Entrepreneur and a major Philanthropist.)
Andrew Carnegie
13
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
12
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 
Jamsetji Tata
(Indian Industrialist and Founder of 'Tata Group')
Jamsetji Tata
10
Birthdate: March 3, 1839
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Gujarat, India
Died: May 19, 1904
Legendary Indian industrialist Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata established the Tata Group and the city of Jamshedpur, too. The Father of Indian Industry also founded the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai, which was the only Indian hotel with electricity back then. His legacy was carried forward by subsidiaries such as Tata Steel.
 8 
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.

 9 
Enzo Ferrari
(Italian racing driver)
Enzo Ferrari
5
Birthdate: February 18, 1898
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Turin
Died: August 14, 1988
Italian race-car driver Enzo Ferrari, also known as "il Commendatore" and "il Drake,” founded the motor-racing team Scuderia Ferrari Grand Prix. He had also been part of the Italian army during World War I. He was posthumously inducted into the International Motorsports and the Automotive halls of fame.
 10 
Anne Lister
(English Diarist)
Anne Lister
4
Birthdate: April 3, 1791
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Halifax, West Yorkshire, England
Died: September 22, 1840

Apart from being a traveler and a mountaineer, Anne Lister was also known as the world’s "first modern lesbian". Nicknamed Gentleman Jack for her androgynous fashion, which almost always included the color black, she penned diaries that contained many secret codes that were deciphered much after her death.

 11 
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.

 12 
John Jacob Astor IV
(Businessman, Investor, and Founder of the ‘Waldorf-Astoria Hotel’)
John Jacob Astor IV
11
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.
 13 
John D. Rockefeller Jr.
(American Financier, Philanthropist and the Only Son of 'Standard Oil' Co-Founder John D. Rockefeller)
John D. Rockefeller Jr.
6
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.

 14 
Ferdinand Porsche
(Automotive Engineer and Founder of the ‘Porsche AG’)
Ferdinand Porsche
4
Birthdate: September 3, 1875
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: ratislavice nad Nisou, Liberec, Czechia
Died: January 30, 1951

Ferdinand Porsche was an Austrian-German automotive engineer. He is credited with founding one of the most popular car companies in the world, Porsche AG. He is also credited with creating the Lohner-Porsche mixed hybrid, the first gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle. During World War II, Porsche was a prominent contributor to the German war effort.

 15 
A'Lelia Walker
(Businesswoman)
A'Lelia Walker
5
Birthdate: June 6, 1885
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Vicksburg, Mississippi, United States
Died: August 17, 1931
 16 
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.

 17 
Robert Smalls
(Politician)
Robert Smalls
3
Birthdate: April 5, 1839
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Beaufort, South Carolina, United States
Died: February 23, 1915
 18 
Harry Gordon Selfridge
(business magnate)
Harry Gordon Selfridge
4
Birthdate: January 11, 1856
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Ripon
Died: May 8, 1947
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.
 20 
J. Bruce Ismay
(Businessman)
J. Bruce Ismay
3
Birthdate: December 12, 1862
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Crosby, Lancashire, England, United Kingdom
Died: October 17, 1937

J. Bruce Ismay was an English businessman. He served as managing director and chairman of the popular shipping company White Star Line, which operated the ill-fated passenger liner RMS Titanic. In 1912, Ismay was subjected to severe criticism after surviving the sinking of the Titanic. In the 1997 film Titanic, J. Bruce Ismay was played by actor Jonathan Hyde.

 21 
Thomas Crapper
(Businessman)
Thomas Crapper
3
Birthdate: September 28, 1836
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Waterside, Thorne, Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
Died: January 27, 1910
 22 
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
 23 
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.

 24 
Frederick Winslow Taylor
(American Mechanical Engineer Known for His Methods to Improve Industrial Efficiency)
Frederick Winslow Taylor
3
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.

 25 
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
 26 
Henri Fayol
(Industrialist, Management Thinker)
Henri Fayol
3
Birthdate: July 29, 1841
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
Died: November 19, 1925

Henri Fayol was a French mining engineer, author, mining executive, and director of mines. He is credited with developing a theory of business administration called Fayolism. Along with Frederick Winslow Taylor, Henri Fayol is credited with founding modern management methods.

 27 
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.

 28 
Cecil John Rhodes
(Former Prime Minister of the Cape Colony)
Cecil John Rhodes
5
Birthdate: July 5, 1853
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom
Died: March 26, 1902
English mining entrepreneur Cecil Rhodes founded the South African territory of Rhodesia, which now consists of the countries Zimbabwe and Zambia. He had been the prime minister of Cape Colony and the chairman of De Beers. He also founded the Rhodes University and launched the Rhodes Scholarship.
 29 
William Henry Vanderbilt
3
Birthdate: May 8, 1821
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New Brunswick, New Jersey, United States
Died: December 8, 1885
 30 
Louis Vuitton
(Businessman)
Louis Vuitton
3
Birthdate: August 4, 1821
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: France
Died: February 27, 1892

After losing his parents at 10, Louis Vuitton ran away to Paris, where he gained repute as a box-maker/packer, and was even hired by Napoleon III’s wife, Empress Eugénie de Montijo. He then founded the iconic French fashion and luxury goods brand Louis Vuitton, which now operates in 50 countries.

 31 
Jess McMahon
5
Birthdate: May 26, 1882
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Manhattan, New York, United States
Died: November 22, 1954
 32 
George Westinghouse
(American Entrepreneur and Engineer Who Invented the ‘Railway Air Brake’)
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.

 33 
Amadeo Giannini
(Founder of 'Bank of America')
Amadeo Giannini
2
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.

 34 
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
 35 
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
 36 
J. P. Morgan Jr.
(American Finance Executive, Banker and Philanthropist)
J. P. Morgan Jr.
3
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.

 37 
Jacob Schiff
(German-born American Banker & Philanthropist Who Financed the Expansion of American Railroads)
Jacob Schiff
2
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.  

 38 
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
 39 
Samuel Colt
(Inventor)
Samuel Colt
4
Birthdate: July 19, 1814
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Hartford, Connecticut, United States
Died: January 10, 1862
 40 
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
 41 
Jay Gould
(Businessman)
Jay Gould
4
Birthdate: May 27, 1836
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Roxbury, New York
Died: December 2, 1892
 42 
Auguste Escoffier
4
Birthdate: October 28, 1846
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Villeneuve-Loubet, France
Died: February 12, 1935
 43 
Frederick Trump
(Businessman)
Frederick Trump
1
Birthdate: March 14, 1869
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kallstadt, Germany
Died: May 30, 1918
 44 
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
Nathan Meyer Rothschild
3
Birthdate: September 16, 1777
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Free City of Frankfurt Frankfurt, Holy Roman Empire
Died: July 28, 1836
 46 
James A. Bailey
(American Owner and Manager of Several 19th-Century Circuses)
James A. Bailey
3
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.

 47 
Thomas C. Durant
3
Birthdate: February 6, 1820
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lee, Massachusetts, United States
Died: October 5, 1885
 48 
Hjalmar Schacht
(Reichsminister of Economics (1934 - 1937))
Hjalmar Schacht
3
Birthdate: January 22, 1877
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Tinglev, Denmark
Died: June 3, 1970

German banker Hjalmar Schacht was appreciated for his role in saving the Weimar Republic from inflation and later served as the Reichsminister of Economics under Adolf Hitler. Following as assassination attempt on Hitler, her was imprisoned, but was later freed and then set up his own bank in Düsseldorf.

 49 
Timothy Dexter
(Businessman)
Timothy Dexter
3
Birthdate: January 22, 1747
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Malden, Massachusetts, United States
Died: October 23, 1806
 50 
Thomas Cook
(Businessman)
Thomas Cook
3
Birthdate: November 22, 1808
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Melbourne, Derbyshire, England
Died: July 18, 1892