William Henry Vanderbilt Biography

William Henry Vanderbilt I (May 8, 1821 – December 8, 1885) was an American businessman and a member of the prominent Vanderbilt family.

William Vanderbilt was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1821. He inherited nearly $100 million from his father, railroad mogul and family patriarch "The Commodore" Cornelius Vanderbilt upon his death in 1877 and had increased it to almost $194 million at his death less than nine years later. When he died, he was the richest man in the world. In 1841 he married Maria Louisa Kissam (1821–1896), the daughter of a Presbyterian minister.
Vanderbilt said in an interview with the Chicago Daily News on October 9, 1882, "The railroads are not run for the benefit of the 'dear public' — that cry is all nonsense — they are built by men who invest their money and expect to get a fair percentage on the same." In 1883, when questioned by a reporter about the discontinuance of a fast mail train popular with the public, he declared: "The public be damned!... I don't take any stock in this silly nonsense about working for anybody but our own."{Interview, Chicago Daily News, October 9, 1882}

His father Cornelius constantly berated and criticized him, calling his eldest son a "blockhead" and a "blatherskite". Billy (as he was called) longed to show his father that he was not, in fact, a blatherskite, but never dared stand up to the fearsome Commodore.