“Commodore” Vanderbilt, as his nickname implies, was a great promoter of steamship and railroad transportation in the pre-Civil War decades that feature the growth of both crucial forms of transportation. Called by some the creator of modern capitalism, Cornelius Vanderbilt founded a dynasty and created a vast fortune. In our favorite type of story, Vanderbilt rose from humbly–born to iconic status. A wealthy man by the 1840s, he continued to be a major player in the growth of transportation during the Civil War and in the decade that followed. Cornelius Vanderbilt helped set the stage for what became the second industrial revolution in America. His sons and grandsons continued on the path laid out by the “Commodore” and left the Vanderbilt name as a symbol of business acumen and wealth. This class will investigate the life and legacy of this significant individual in the growth of the American economy.