Imported from: Google Blogger site
Original publish date:  October 18, 2010

William Henry Vanderbilt

I occasionally stumble across articles that might be of interest to my readers. This article appeared in The Daily Graphic published Monday evening, March 10, 1873 and accompanied its large cover page illustration that measured over eight inches high. I reproduce it here exactly as it appeared on page 3 of this short-lived daily newspaper. As typical of the era, the entire article was one long paragraph.

Personal Sketch

Mr. William H. Vanderbilt, whose portrait is given in to-day's issue, is the eldest son of Commodore Vanderbilt, and a shrewd, enterprising scion of a shrewd, enterprising house. Though born in the financial purple, he declined becoming a mere pensioner on his father’s reputation, and at an early age plunged into active business life. He was born, in 1821, at New Brunswick, N.J., the summer residence at that time of his father, and after receiving a sound practical education at the Columbia College Grammar School, entered in his eighteenth year, the financial house of Drew, Robinson & Co., where he exhibited so great executive abilities that, after two years of steady application and eminently successful operations, he was offered a partnership. Finding, however, that from rapid growth and close confinement, his health was being undermined, he determined to recuperate by farming, and set earnestly to work to clear seventy-five acres on Staten Island. Carrying the same energy into his agricultural pursuits, he soon had 350 acres under cultivation. At this time the Staten Island Railroad Company was in an embarrassed condition, but as soon as Mr. Vanderbilt and his uncle, Jacob Vanderbilt, ame into its management it improved rapidly. This experience gave him a taste for the railroad business, and having been elected in 1864 Vice-President of the New York and Harlem, and in 1865 of the Hudson River, he devoted his whole time and attention to their development, and proved himself worthy of becoming the executive and confidant of the Commodore. The Harlem, which was bankrupt when he became Vice-President, is now one of the best equipped roads in the country, and the Hudson River under his management, has trebled in value. The Commodore, having secured a controlling interest in New York Central in 1869, consolidated the Central with the Hudson River R. R., and now this magnificent organization, with 700 miles of track, a business of $25,000,000 per annum, and a capitalized value on $90,000,000, is under the management of Mr. William H. Vanderbilt, its Vice-President. He is engaged at present in making a thorough financial success of Western Union, and since the Vanderbilt party took hold of it two years ago, it has advanced fifty-five per cent. Lately much of his attention has been directed to the passage of a scheme through the Legislature to connect his different roads with the commercial centres of the metropolis by the proposed rapid transit plan. He was married in 1841 to Miss Kissam, and the eldest of their eight children, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jr., holds the position of Treasurer of the Harlem. Mr. Vanderbilt yet remains practically, as well as theoretically, a farmer, and his knowledge of agriculture had been very serviceable in determining routes for roads and matters connected with the transportation of grain. Hale, bluff, and in the enjoyment of excellent health, he possesses a cheerful disposition, and though punctual and exacting in business is very considerate and liberal in charities. Having made several visits to the Old World, his mansion is filled with mementoes of his travels. Many valuable paintings of the old masters are hung side by side with those of native production, Mr. Vanderbilt being a liberal patron of American art.