The Richest Americans in History People

The Richest Americans in History

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A list of the richest Americans in history, with pictures. These are the top wealthiest Americans ever. Each of these people was at one point the richest man in the country. This list goes back all the way to the 1700's including those who made their wealth through shipping, oil, automobiles, technology, and many other industries. The amount of money these people have held has grown from the hundreds of thousands, onto becoming millionaires, and now billionaires. While money isn't everything, the impact many of these people have had on United States history reverberates to this day. Perhaps then there is even more to these fellows than just being the top richest Americans.


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    William Henry "Bill" Gates III is an American business magnate, philanthropist, investor, computer programmer, and inventor. Gates originally established his reputation as the co-founder of Microsoft, the world’s largest PC software company, with Paul Allen. During his career at Microsoft, Gates held ...more

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    • Age: age 60
    • Birthplace: Seattle, Washington, United States of America
    • Schools: Lakeside School, Harvard College
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    John Werner Kluge
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    John Werner Kluge was a German-born American entrepreneur who was at one time the richest person in America. He was best known as a television industry mogul in the United States.more

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    • Age: Died at 96 (1914-2010)
    • Birthplace: Chemnitz, Germany
    • Schools: Columbia University, Wayne State University
    • Died: 2010
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    Sam Walton
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    Samuel Moore "Sam" Walton was an American businessman and entrepreneur best known for founding the retailers Walmart and Sam's Club.more

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    • Age: Died at 74 (1918-1992)
    • Birthplace: Kingfisher, Oklahoma, United States of America
    • Schools: University of Missouri–Columbia, Hickman High School
    • Died: 1992
    • Cause Of Death: Cancer, Bone cancer, Multiple myeloma
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    Daniel Ludwig

    Daniel Keith Ludwig was a United States shipping magnate, businessman with numerous companies, and billionaire. He pioneered the construction of super tankers in Japan, founded Exportadora de Sal, SA in Mexico and developed it as the largest salt company in the world, built a model community in ...more

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    • Age: Died at 95 (1897-1992)
    • Birthplace: South Haven, Michigan, United States of America
    • Died: 1992
    • Cause Of Death: Heart failure
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    Jean Paul Getty was an American industrialist. He founded the Getty Oil Company, and in 1957 Fortune magazine named him the richest living American, while the 1966 Guinness Book of Records named him as the world's richest private citizen, worth an estimated $1.2 billion. At his death, he was worth more ...more

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    • Age: Died at 84 (1892-1976)
    • Birthplace: Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States of America
    • Schools: University of Oxford, Magdalen College, Oxford, University of California, Berkeley, + more
    • Died: 1976
    • Cause Of Death: Cardiovascular disease
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    Andrew Mellon
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    Andrew William Mellon was an American banker, businessman, industrialist, philanthropist, art collector, United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom and United States Secretary of the Treasury from March 4, 1921 to February 12, 1932, from the wealthy Mellon family of Pennsylvania. He and his brother ...more

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    • Age: Died at 82 (1855-1937)
    • Birthplace: Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Area code 412, Contiguous United States, United States of America, + more
    • Schools: University of Pittsburgh
    • Died: 1937
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    Henry Ford was an American industrialist, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, and sponsor of the development of the assembly line technique of mass production. Although Ford did not invent the automobile or the assembly line, he developed and manufactured the first automobile that many middle class ...more

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    • Age: Died at 84 (1863-1947)
    • Birthplace: Greenfield Township, Wayne County, Michigan
    • Schools: Detroit Business Institute
    • Died: 1947
    • Cause Of Death: Cerebral hemorrhage
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    John D. Rockefeller
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    John Davison Rockefeller Sr. was an American business magnate and philanthropist. He was a co-founder of the Standard Oil Company, which dominated the oil industry and was the first great U.S. business trust. Rockefeller revolutionized the petroleum industry, and along with other key contemporary ...more

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    • Age: Died at 98 (1839-1937)
    • Birthplace: Richford, New York, United States of America
    • Schools: Chancellor University
    • Died: 1937
    • Cause Of Death: Arteriosclerosis
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    Andrew Carnegie
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish American industrialist who led the enormous expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century. He is also well known as a leading philanthropist. He gave away to charities and foundations about $350 million – almost 90 percent of his fortune. His 1889 ...more

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    • Age: Died at 84 (1835-1919)
    • Birthplace: Dunfermline, United Kingdom
    • Died: 1919
    • Cause Of Death: Bronchopneumonia
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    William Henry Vanderbilt
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    William Henry "Billy" Vanderbilt I was an American businessman and philanthropist. He was the eldest son of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt and a prominent member of the Vanderbilt family.more

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    • Age: Died at 64 (1821-1885)
    • Birthplace: New Brunswick, New Jersey, United States of America
    • Died: 1885
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    Cornelius Vanderbilt
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    Cornelius Vanderbilt, also known by the sobriquet Commodore, was an American business magnate and philanthropist who built his wealth in railroads and shipping. He was also the patriarch of the Vanderbilt family and one of the richest Americans in history. He provided the initial gift to found ...more

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    • Age: Died at 83 (1794-1877)
    • Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America
    • Died: 1877
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    John Jacob Astor
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    John Jacob Astor, born Johann Jakob Astor, was a German-born American businessman, merchant, fur trader, and investor who was the first prominent member of the Astor family and the first multi-millionaire in the United States. He was the creator of the first trust in the United States. He emigrated to ...more

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    • Age: Died at 85 (1763-1848)
    • Birthplace: Walldorf, Germany
    • Died: 1848
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    Stephen Van Rensselaer

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    Stephen Van Rensselaer
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    Stephen van Rensselaer III was Lieutenant Governor of New York as well as a statesman, soldier, and land-owner, the heir to one of the largest estates in the New York region at the time, which made him the tenth richest American of all time, based on the ratio of his fortune to contemporary GDP. He ...more

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    • Age: Died at 75 (1764-1839)
    • Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America
    • Schools: Harvard University
    • Died: 1839
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    Stephen Girard
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    Stephen Girard was a French-born, naturalized American, philanthropist and banker. He personally saved the U.S. government from financial collapse during the War of 1812, and became one of the wealthiest people in America, estimated to have been the fourth richest American of all time, based on the ...more

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    • Age: Died at 81 (1750-1831)
    • Birthplace: Bordeaux, France
    • Died: 1831
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    Elias Hasket Derby

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    Elias Hasket Derby
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    Elias Hasket Derby was among the wealthiest and most celebrated of post-Revolutionary merchants in Salem, Massachusetts, and owner of the Grand Turk, the first New England vessel to trade directly with China.more

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    • Age: Died at 60 (1739-1799)
    • Birthplace: Salem, Massachusetts, United States of America
    • Died: 1799
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    John Hancock
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    John Hancock was a merchant, smuggler, statesman, and prominent Patriot of the American Revolution. He served as president of the Second Continental Congress and was the first and third Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He is remembered for his large and stylish signature on the United ...more

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    • Age: Died at 56 (1737-1793)
    • Birthplace: Eastern United States, Braintree, New England, Norfolk County, United States of America, + more
    • Schools: Boston Latin School, Harvard University
    • Died: 1793
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    Benjamin Franklin FRS was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A renowned polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American ...more

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    • Age: Died at 84 (1706-1790)
    • Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America
    • Schools: Boston Latin School
    • Died: 1790
    • Cause Of Death: Pleurisy
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