Robert Morris played a key role in the early development of the United States. He was born in Liverpool, England, in 1734 and immigrated to the American colonies as a young man. Morris established himself as a successful merchant in Philadelphia and became one of the richest men in the colonies. During the American Revolution, Morris served as a member of the Continental Congress. He was instrumental in securing loans and supplies for the Continental Army and secured foreign aid for the revolution. After the war, Morris continued to be active in politics and signed the United States Constitution. He helped to establish the Bank of North America. However, there was not a happy ending for Robert Morris. In 1796, there is record of him owing the U.S. Treasury a total of $93,312.63. In today’s terms, that was nearly $12 million. He ended up going to debtors’ prison.
William Bingham was an American statesman, merchant, and banker. Born in Philadelphia in 1752, Bingham made a fortune as a merchant and was one of the richest men in the United States. He was active in politics and served as a delegate to the Continental Congress during the American Revolution. After the war, Bingham continued to be active in politics and was elected to the United States Senate from Pennsylvania in 1795. Bingham was also involved in several business ventures, including shipping and land speculation. He was a major landowner in Pennsylvania and held large estates in the United States and abroad. In 1804, the New York Times reported that Bingham’s heirs inherited his trust that was worth $838,000. After adjusting for modern day inflation, that would be approximately $25 million.
Born in Boston in 1706,Benjamin Franklin excelled in various fields including science, writing, and politics. His experiments with electricity were groundbreaking and helped establish the foundation for modern knowledge. Franklin was also a successful printer, publisher, and inventor with numerous patents, including the lightning rod. Besides his scientific and business achievements, Franklin played an active role in American politics. He served as a delegate to the Continental Congress and a diplomat in Europe. Franklin secured French support for the American Revolution. People widely regard Franklin as one of the “Founding Fathers” of the United States and consider him to be one of the most important figures in American history. There is some debate as to how much money was in Ben Franklin’s net worth, because records are incomplete. But most historians agree that it would have been somewhere around $43.5 million. Others believe he actually had much more.
John Hancock was an American merchant, statesman, and Patriot of the American Revolution. Hancock is widely regarded as one of the “Founding Fathers” of the United States. Born in 1737, he inherited a successful shipping business from his uncle and became one of the richest men in the colonies. Hancock was a strong advocate for colonial rights. He is best known for his large signature on the Declaration of Independence. In addition to his political activities, Hancock was a major benefactor of Harvard College. Despite his wealth, Hancock was also a deeply flawed individual. He had a complicated personal life and a history of financial scandals. It’s difficult to estimate his actual net worth, because records were not properly kept. But his estate was valued at around $500,000 at the time of his death in 1793. With modern inflation, that’s equivalent to several million dollars.
Elias Hasket Derby was a wealthy merchant and shipowner from Salem, Massachusetts. He lived in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Derby was one of the richest men in America and was known for his success in trade in China. He was a Federalist and was supportive of the policies of the Washington and Adams administrations. Despite his wealth and influence, Derby is not widely remembered today. Nevertheless, he played a significant role in the economic development of the young United States and was a prominent figure in the early years of the nation. According to some estimates, Derby’s net worth at the time of his death in 1799 was around $10 million. This would be equivalent to several hundred million dollars after adjusting for inflation.
Thomas Willingwas an American merchant and statesman who lived in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1731. Together with Robert Morris, they established the firm Willing, Morris and Company in 1757. This exported flour, lumber and tobacco to Europe while importing sugar, rum, molasses, and slaves from the West Indies and Africa. Thomas Willing served as a delegate to the Continental Congress, was the first president of the First Bank of the United States, and was also involved in several other business ventures. He was a strong advocate for American independence and played a key role in the country’s early economic development. There are no records indicating just how much Thomas Willing was worth. However, it was clear to everyone that he was one of the wealthiest men of his time, based on how much he was able to achieve.
Stephan Girard was a French-born American banker. He was born in Bordeaux, France in 1750 and immigrated to the United States in 1776. Girard became a successful merchant and banker, amassing a large fortune. He made numerous gifts and bequests to various charitable causes, including the establishment of Girard College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The founders established this school to provide education to orphaned boys, and it was one of the first institutions of its kind in the United States. Girard, who is considered to be one of the country’s earliest and most successful financiers, also invested heavily in the Second Bank of the United States. It’s unclear how much money Girard was able to make, because there are no historic records of it. However, with everything he was able to do, he was a modern-day equivalent of a multi-millionaire.
John Jacob Astor was born in Walldorf, Germany in 1763 and immigrated to the United States in 1784. Astor became one of the richest people in America. His fortune derived from various business ventures, including the fur trade, real estate, and investments. He is widely considered to be the first multi-millionaire in the United States. Astor built a vast empire through the trading of furs with China and Europe. He also invested in real estate in New York City. Astor was a strong supporter of education and the arts. It is difficult to estimate John Jacob Astor’s exact net worth, because records from that time are incomplete. However, at the time of his death in 1848, his estate was valued at around $20 million, which was an enormous sum of money at the time. Adjusted for inflation, this would be equivalent to several billion dollars in today’s currency.
Cornelius Vanderbilt was an American businessman who lived in the 19th century. Born in Staten Island, New York in 1794, Vanderbilt was the oldest of nine children in a poor family. Despite limited formal education, he went on to become one of the richest men in American history. Vanderbilt made his fortune in transportation. He started with a ferry service in New York Harbor and eventually built a vast empire of steamships, railroads, and other transportation companies. Vanderbilt also donated large sums to various causes. His largest gift was a $1 million donation to what is now known as Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Cornelius Vanderbilt died in 1877, leaving an estate valued at over $100 million. This made him one of the richest men in American history.
William Henry Vanderbilt was an American businessman who lived in the 19th century. He was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1821 and was the eldest son of Cornelius Vanderbilt. William Henry inherited his father’s fortune and went on to greatly expand the family’s wealth through investments in railroads and real estate. His investment in the New York and Harlem Railroad was instrumental in the development of New York City’s transportation system. He also invested in real estate, purchasing vast amounts of land in and around the city. In addition to his business savvy, William Henry Vanderbilt was also a philanthropist who made significant contributions to education and the arts. William Henry Vanderbilt died in 1885, leaving an estate valued at over $200 million.
John D. Rockefeller was an American businessman who lived in the 19th and 20th centuries. He was born in Richford, New York in 1839 and went on to become one of the richest men in American history. Rockefeller made his fortune through the oil industry, founding Standard Oil Company in 1870 and building it into a massive monopoly that dominated the industry for decades. His largest gift was the establishment of the Rockefeller Foundation. In addition to his charity work, Rockefeller was also a collector of art and an avid supporter of scientific research. John D. Rockefeller died in 1937, leaving an estate valued at over $1 billion today.
Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish-American industrialist who was born in Dunfermline, Scotland in 1835. He immigrated to the United States in 1848. Carnegie made his fortune in the steel industry, building the Carnegie Steel Company into the largest steel producer in the world. He was known for his business acumen and his innovative approach to the steel industry. Carnegie was a firm believer in the power of technology and was an early adopter of the Bessemer process, which revolutionized steel production. He believed in the power of wealth to do good and famously stated that “the man who dies rich, dies disgraced.” His largest gift was the establishment of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, which continues to support education, international peace, and scientific research. Andrew Carnegie died in 1919, leaving an estate valued at over $300 million.
Henry Ford was born in 1863. People best know Ford for his innovations in the American automobile industry. He made the Model T, the first affordable car. Ford also implemented the moving assembly line, which revolutionized manufacturing and made cars accessible to the masses. In addition to his contributions to the automobile industry, Ford was also a visionary businessman. He was known for his progressive views on labor relations and workers’ rights. Ford was a strong supporter of high wages and the eight-hour workday, which he used at his own factories. Henry Ford left behind a legacy as one of the greatest entrepreneurs in American history. Henry Ford died on April 7, 1947, at the age of 84. At the time of his death, his net worth was estimated to be around $188.1 million, which would be equivalent to several billion dollars today, because of inflation.
Andrew Mellon was an American banker and industrialist. He was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1855 and went on to become one of the richest men in American history. Mellon made his fortune in finance, banking, and industry. He was a major player in the growth and development of the American economy during the Gilded Age. In addition to his business success, Mellon was also a philanthropist who made significant contributions to various causes throughout his life. Andrew Mellon served as Secretary of the Treasury under three presidents. He is remembered for his contributions to the American economy and his role in shaping the modern world. Andrew Mellon died on August 26, 1937, at the age of 82. At the time of his death, his net worth was estimated to be around $300 million, which would be equivalent to several billion dollars because of modern inflation.
H.L. Hunt was an American oil tycoon and entrepreneur. Hunt made his fortune in the oil industry. The Hunt Oil Company was one of the largest independent oil producers in the United States. In addition to his business success, Hunt was also a political activist and a vocal supporter of conservative causes. He is remembered for his contributions to the American economy, and his role as one of the richest figures of his time. H.L. Hunt died on November 29, 1974, at the age of 85. At the time of his death, his net worth was estimated to be around $1.5 billion, which would be equivalent to several billion dollars because of modern inflation.
J. Paul Getty was an American industrialist who was born in 1892 and went on to become one of the richest men in the world. Getty made his fortune in the oil industry. His company, Getty Oil, was one of the largest independent oil producers in the world. He established the J. Paul Getty Trust, which continues to support the arts today. J. Paul Getty had a reputation as a reclusive and eccentric figure, and he lived a quiet and private life. Despite his wealth, he lived frugally and was known for his simple tastes. He was also famous for his thriftiness, and he was known for his strict negotiation tactics and his reluctance to spend money, even on himself. J. Paul Getty died on June 6, 1976, at the age of 83. At the time of his death, his net worth was estimated to be around $2 billion
Howard Hughes was an American businessman, aviator, investor, and film producer who was born in 1905. He went on to become one of the most influential figures of his time. His companies, including Hughes Aircraft and the Hughes Tool Company, were among the largest and most successful in their respective industries. In addition to his business success, Hughes was also a skilled aviator and set several world records for air speed and altitude. His production company, RKO Pictures, was one of the most successful of its time. He became increasingly isolated in his later years, and his health declined until he died in 1976. Howard Hughes died on April 5, 1976, at the age of 70. At the time of his death, his net worth was estimated to be around $2.5 billion. This would be equivalent to several billion dollars in today’s currency because of inflation.
Daniel Ludwig was an American businessman and investor. He was born in New York City in 1897 and went on to become one of the richest men in the world. Ludwig made his fortune in a variety of industries, including shipping, real estate, and construction. His companies, including the National Bulk Carriers, were among the largest and most successful in their respective industries. He was known for his strict negotiation tactics and his reluctance to spend money, even on himself. Daniel Ludwig died in 1992, leaving behind a legacy as one of the richest and most successful businessmen of his time. Daniel Ludwig died in 1992, at the age of 95. At the time of his death, his net worth was estimated to be around $6.9 billion, which would be even more than that today, because of inflation.
Sam Walton was an American businessman and entrepreneur. He was born in Kingfisher, Oklahoma in 1918 and went on to become the founder of Walmart. Walton started his career as a retailer, opening his first store, Walton’s 5 & 10 in 1950. Over the next several decades, he grew his retail empire, opening hundreds of stores. Walton was known for his focus on providing low prices and high-quality products to customers. He was a strong believer in the power of technology and innovation. Walton was one of the first retailers to embrace computer systems to improve his business. Sam Walton left behind a legacy as one of the greatest entrepreneurs of his time. At the time of his death on April 5, 1992, his net worth was estimated to be around $23 billion. This money was split up among his children, who we will mention later on this list.
John Kluge was an American businessman. He was born in Germany in 1914 and immigrated to the United States as a young man. Kluge made his fortune in a variety of industries, including media, real estate, and private equity. His companies, including Metropolitan Broadcasting (now known as Fox), were among the successful in their respective industries. He lived a quiet and private life. John Kluge left behind a legacy as one of the wealthiest and most successful businessmen of his time. He is remembered for his contributions to the media industry, and his role as one of the most influential figures of the 20th century. He died on September 7, 2010, at the age of 95. At the time of his death, his net worth was estimated to be around $6.5 billion, which would be equivalent to several billion dollars because of inflation.
Warren Buffett is widely considered to be one of the greatest investors of all time. He was born in Nebraska in 1930 and has been involved in the finance industry for over 70 years. Buffett is the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, a multinational conglomerate holding company. He is known for his value investing approach, which involves seeking out undervalued companies with strong potential for growth and holding onto them for the long term. Throughout his career, Buffett has made a number of highly successful investments, including in companies like Coca-Cola, American Express, and Wells Fargo. He has been frequently interviewed and quoted on a variety of business and financial topics. Despite his immense wealth and success, Buffett is known for his down-to-earth personality and his approachable, folksy demeanor. At the moment, Warren Buffet’s net worth is $106 billion.
Ronald Owens Perelman is an American businessman and investor. He was born in 1943 and is the chairman and CEO of MacAndrews & Forbes Inc. This is a holding company that owns a variety of businesses in industries such as cosmetics, entertainment, and biotech. Perelman is known for his reputation as a corporate raider and his use of leveraged buyouts to acquire companies. Throughout his career, he has been involved in a number of high-profile takeovers. Perelman is also known for his controversial business dealings and his personal life. He has been involved in a number of high-profile lawsuits and has been the subject of intense media scrutiny. Despite these challenges, Perelman remains one of the richest and most influential figures in the business world. Currently, Perelman’s net worth is $1.8 billion.
Henry Les Hillman is an American businessman. He is the founder of The Hillman Company, a private investment firm. Hillman is known for his investments in a variety of industries, including real estate, manufacturing, and energy. He is a successful entrepreneur and investor, and his companies have been among the largest and most successful in their respective industries. Hillman is a quiet and reserved figure who shies away from the media and public attention. Henry Les Hillman was 98 when he passed away. Mr. Hillman amassed an estimated net worth of $2.6 billion, according to Forbes magazine, making him Pittsburgh’s richest person.
Barbara Cox Anthony was an American businesswoman. She was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1919 and was the daughter of James M. Cox, the founder of Cox Enterprises. Along with her siblings, Barbara Cox Anthony inherited a significant portion of Cox Enterprises and became one of the richest women in the world. She became a successful businesswoman in her own right and involved herself in various ventures, including real estate, telecommunications, and publishing. Barbara Cox Anthony, who shied away from the media and public attention, was a private individual widely respected for her discretion and commitment to her family and community. It is estimated that she was worth $12 billion.
Sister of Barbara, Anne Cox Chambers is an American businesswoman. She was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1919 and is the daughter of James M. Cox, the founder of Cox Enterprises. Along with her sister, Anne inherited a significant portion of Cox Enterprises and became one of the richest women in the world. She involved herself in a variety of ventures, including real estate, telecommunications, and publishing, and became a successful businesswoman in her own right. People still regard Anne Cox Chambers as one of the most influential and respected figures in the business world and remember her for the contributions she made to her community. Her net worth was $16 billion.
Samuel Irving Newhouse Jr. was an American businessman. He was the son of Samuel Irving Newhouse Sr., the founder of Advance Publications, a media conglomerate. Along with his brother, Donald Newhouse, Samuel inherited a significant portion of Advance Publications and became one of the richest individuals in the world. The Irving brothers were involved in a variety of ventures, including magazines, newspapers, and cable television. He was a major donor to a number of organizations and institutions. Samuel Irving Newhouse Jr. passed away in 2017, but his legacy lives on through his family. Samuel Irving has an estimated net worth of $12 billion, while Donald Newhouse has $10.7 billion.
Jay Arthur Pritzker and Robert Alan Pritzker are American businessmen. They are part of the Pritzker family, one of the richest and most influential families in the United States. Jay Arthur Pritzker is a co-founder of TransUnion, a consumer credit reporting agency. Robert Alan Pritzker, on the other hand, is the former chairman and CEO of Marmon Group, a conglomerate of manufacturing and service companies. They are major donors to a number of organizations and institutions, including the Pritzker Foundation, the Pritzker Family Children’s Foundation, and the Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago. According to Forbes, the family was worth $15 billion.
Earlier on this list, we already talked about Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart. His children ended up inheriting part of the Walmart empire, and becoming some of the richest people in the world. His children are Robson Walton, John T. Walton, Jim C. Walton, and Alice Walton. Rob served as the chairman of Walmart from 1992 to 2015. John was a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and served as a Green Beret in the Vietnam War. After his military service, he became an accomplished businessman. Jim is the chairman and CEO of Arvest Bank Group. Alice is known for her passion for art and for building one of the largest and most significant art collections in the world. The siblings split up the $23 billion when their father died, and there is no telling how much they are worth now.
William Henry Gates III, also known as Bill Gates, is an American software developer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He co-founded Microsoft Corporation in 1975 with Paul Allen and played a key role in the development of personal computing. Under Gates’ leadership, Microsoft became one of the largest and most successful software companies in the world. It produces popular products such as the Windows operating system, Microsoft Office, and Internet Explorer. In addition to his business success, he and his ex wife, Melinda Gates, co-chair the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation supports initiatives in global health, education, and poverty alleviation, among other areas. His net worth is currently $106.2 billion.
Henry Ross Perot was an American business magnate and politician. He was born in 1930 and passed away in 2019. Perot was the founder of Electronic Data Systems (EDS) and Perot Systems, two successful technology companies. In 1992, Perot ran for President of the United States, and received 18.9% of the popular vote. He ran again in 1996 as the candidate of the Reform Party, but did not perform as well. Despite not winning the presidency, Perot’s campaigns were notable for their focus on issues such as the federal budget deficit, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and U.S. military involvement overseas. He had an estimated net worth of $3.8 billion.
A. Alfred Taubman was an American real estate developer. He was born in 1924 and passed away in 2015. Taubman developed several large and successful shopping centers, including the Beverly Center in Los Angeles and the Mall at Short Hills in New Jersey. He was a generous donor to several institutions, including the University of Michigan, where he established the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute. He was also a strong supporter of the arts, and served as chairman of the board of trustees of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Taubman has an estimated net worth of just over $3 billion.
Ted Arison was an Israeli-American entrepreneur. He was born in 1924 in Palestine and passed away in 1999. Arison was the founder of Carnival Cruise Lines and was one of the pioneers of the modern cruise industry. He also founded the Miami Heat basketball team and was a co-founder of the National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise. He was a co-founder of the Birthright Israel program, which provides young Jews with a free ten-day trip to Israel. According to Forbes, Ted Arison had a net worth of $5.6 billion.
Sumner Murray Redstone was an American media magnate. He was born in 1923 and passed away in 2020. Redstone was the majority owner of National Amusements, a company that controlled several media and entertainment companies, including Viacom and CBS Corporation. Redstone was known for his strong personality and his hands-on approach to managing his media empire. He was a fierce advocate for the value of content in the media industry, and was an early investor in companies such as MTV and VH1. Under his leadership, Viacom became one of the largest media companies in the world. Its portfolio included popular cable networks, movie studios, and theme parks. He had an estimated $2.6 billion when he died.
Charles and David Koch are American businessmen. The brothers are the co-owners of Koch Industries, one of the largest privately-held companies in the world. It has interests in a wide range of industries, including energy, chemicals, and consumer goods. They are strong advocates for free-market economics and limited government, and have supported various organizations and political campaigns that align with their views. The Koch brothers have been the subject of significant controversy, with some accusing them of using their wealth and influence to advance their political agenda. Despite this, they have been highly successful in business, and are among the richest individuals in the world. According to Forbes, had an estimated net worth of $68 billion.
Edgar Miles Bronfman was a Canadian-American businessman. He was born in 1929 and passed away in 2013. Bronfman’s role as the former CEO of Seagram Company Ltd, a multinational conglomerate involved in the production of alcohol. So the next time you have a gin and tonic, you might want to thank Edgar Bronfman. He led the company from 1971 to 1994, during which time it became one of the largest and most successful companies in the world. He was the president of the World Jewish Congress from 1979 to 2007, and was a strong advocate for the Jewish community and the State of Israel. At the time of his death, Bronfman was worth $2.5 billion.
Charles F. Feeney is the founder of The Atlantic Philanthropies, a private foundation that has made significant contributions to a variety of causes. He is also the co-founder of Duty Free Shoppers (DFS), a company that pioneered the duty-free shopping concept. That might sound familiar, because Duty Free is placed in airports around the world. It became one of the largest luxury goods retailers in the world. Feeney is a strong advocate for giving while living, and has been a vocal supporter of the idea that wealthy individuals have a responsibility to use their resources to make a positive impact on the world. There is not an exact number of what he is worth, but we do know that he is a billionaire.
Leslie Herbert Wexner is an American businessman. He is best known for being the founder and CEO of L Brands, a retail company that operates several well-known brands including Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works, and Pink. Millions of women across America have no idea that all of their staples exist because of an old white man. Many people widely regard Wexner as one of the most successful retailers in the world, and credit him with revolutionizing the lingerie and beauty industries. Under his leadership, L Brands has become a multinational corporation with a strong global presence, and has become one of the largest employers in the retail sector. He is worth $6 billion.
Forrest Edward Mars Sr. was an American businessman. The name Mars might sound familiar, because they are the creators of M&M’s. He was born in 1904 and passed away in 1999. People know Mars best as the co-founder of Mars Inc., which is one of the largest and most successful candy companies in the world. The company is known for producing a wide range of well-known brands, including M&M’s, Snickers, and Skittles. They also own pet food brands, including Pedigree and Whiskas. Mars was a highly successful businessman. He was a strong believer in the importance of quality and customer satisfaction, and these values are still central to the company today. Forrest’s children, Jackie and John, went on to becoming some of the wealthiest people in the United States after they inherited their share of Mars Inc. When he died, he was worth $4 billion.