19th Century Business People

Find out more about the greatest 19th Century Entrepreneurs, including Thomas Edison, John D. Rockefeller, Alexander Graham Bell, Henry Ford and Andrew Carnegie.

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: Businessman, Mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut (1875 – 76)
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

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.

 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.

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 4 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.
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 5 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.

 6 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.

 7 Jamsetji Tata

Jamsetji Tata
Famous As: Founder of Tata Group of Industries
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.
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 8 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.

 9 Enzo Ferrari

Enzo Ferrari
Famous As: Italian racing driver
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 Cecil John Rhodes

Cecil John Rhodes
Famous As: Former Prime Minister of the Cape Colony
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.

 11 Anne Lister

Anne Lister
Famous As: Writer
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.

 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 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

 14 John Jacob Astor IV

John Jacob Astor IV
Famous As: Businessman
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.

 15 Prescott Bush

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

 16 John D. Rockefeller Jr.

John D. Rockefeller Jr.
Famous As: Philanthropist & Businessman
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.

 17 Ferdinand Porsche

Ferdinand Porsche
Famous As: Founder of Porsche Automobile Company
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.

 18 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.

 19 Harry Gordon Selfridge

Harry Gordon Selfridge
Famous As: business magnate
Birthdate: January 11, 1856
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Ripon
Died: May 8, 1947

 20 Mayer Amschel Rothschild

Mayer Amschel Rothschild
Famous As: Banker
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.

 21 J. Bruce Ismay

J. Bruce Ismay
Famous As: Businessman
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.

 22 Thomas Crapper

Thomas Crapper
Famous As: Businessman
Birthdate: September 28, 1836
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Waterside, Thorne, Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
Died: January 27, 1910

 23 Milton S. Hershey

Milton S. Hershey
Famous As: Chocolatier & Businessman
Birthdate: September 13, 1857
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Derry Township, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: October 13, 1945

 24 Robert Smalls

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

 25 Levi Strauss

Levi Strauss
Famous As: Former businessman known as founder of the Levi Strauss & Co.
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.

 26 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

 27 Henri Fayol

Henri Fayol
Famous As: Industrialist, Management Thinker
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.

 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 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.

 30 Louis Vuitton

Louis Vuitton
Famous As: Businessman
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

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

 32 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.

 33 Amadeo Giannini

Amadeo Giannini
Famous As: Banker who founded the Bank of Italy, which became Bank of America
Birthdate: May 6, 1870
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: San Jose, California, United States
Died: June 3, 1949

 34 Isidor Straus

Isidor Straus
Famous As: U.S. House Representative from New York (1894-1895)
Birthdate: February 6, 1845
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Otterberg, Germany
Died: April 15, 1912

 35 Henry Clay Frick

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

 36 Jacob Schiff

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

 37 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

 38 Samuel Colt

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

 39 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

 40 Nathan Meyer Rothschild

Nathan Meyer Rothschild
Famous As: Banker
Birthdate: September 16, 1777
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Free City of Frankfurt Frankfurt, Holy Roman Empire
Died: July 28, 1836

 41 Jay Gould

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

 42 Auguste Escoffier

Auguste Escoffier
Famous As: Chef
Birthdate: October 28, 1846
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Villeneuve-Loubet, France
Died: February 12, 1935

 43 Frederick Trump

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

 44 Ambrose Burnside

Ambrose Burnside
Famous As: United States Senator from Rhode Island (1875-81)
Birthdate: May 23, 1824
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Liberty, Indiana, United States
Died: September 13, 1881

 45 Thomas Cook

Thomas Cook
Famous As: Businessman
Birthdate: November 22, 1808
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Melbourne, Derbyshire, England
Died: July 18, 1892

 46 Timothy Dexter

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

 47 Elizabeth Arden

Elizabeth Arden
Famous As: Cosmetologist
Birthdate: December 31, 1878
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada
Died: October 18, 1966

 48 James Forrestal

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

 49 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

 50 Leland Stanford

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