Money Often Costs Too Much – the Richest Americans Who Ever Lived

When we think of wealth and fortune, we tend to think of well-known big business CEOs and Hollywood stars, but the truth is that some of the wealthiest people in the world actually tend to go under the radar for much of their lives, totally unknown to the public but living lives of luxury after amassing incredible fortunes. The following five people have gone down in history as some of the wealthiest individuals America ever saw.

Stephen Van Rensselaer

Born in 1764, Stephen Van Rensselaer lived at a time before the age of celebrity CEOs and super-rich pop singers. He made his money in the real estate industry, first heading to Harvard and then taking over ownership of his family’s private estate, Rensselaerswyck.

Stephen Van Rensselaer
Source: investing.com

He decided to develop the land by opening it up to tenants, charging them moderate lease fees to live on his property and then start their own farms and businesses, effectively creating an entire community. At the time of his death, his net worth was about $3.1 billion, but in today’s money, he’d be worth over $100 billion.

Mark Zuckerberg

If you’re on the internet, you know who Mark Zuckerberg is. The founder of Facebook and the company’s CEO and chairman, Zuckerberg is the perfect example of the modern-day power of technology. It was while studying at Harvard that Zuckerberg launched Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg
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The platform started off as just a way for users to select college campuses but grew into something so much bigger and more influential, hitting a billion users in 2012. The latest reports state that Zuckerberg’s net worth is around $55 billion, but it has reached heights of over $70 billion in the past, and he’s the world’s youngest self-made billionaire too.

Stephen Girard

Born in Bordeaux, France in 1750, but later becoming a naturalized American citizen, Stephen Girard was a banker who played an extraordinarily important role in American history. He essentially saved the entire US government from financial ruin during the War of 1812.

Stephen Girard
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He bought out most of the stock of the expired First Bank of the US in 1811 and opened his own bank under various names. Then, during the war, he gave the government all of his resources as a war loan. In modern money, he’d be worth several hundred billion dollars, and he left most of his fortune to orphans.

Henry Ford

Still one of the biggest car brands in the world today, the Ford Motor Company all started with Henry Ford, an industrialist and business magnate born in 1863. Some people erroneously credit Ford with the invention of the automobile, but he did have a significant impact on the industry.

Henry Ford
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His creation of the Model T totally changed the way the world thought about automobiles and his investment in mass production techniques paved the way for future generations. He was also well-liked by his workers and widely respected among his peers for paying high wages, with Ford being well-known for aspiring to contribute to a peaceful and better world.

John D. Rockefeller

So who holds the crown as the wealthiest America of all time? John D. Rockefeller. In fact, he’s the wealthiest person in all of modern history. Born in 1839, Rockefeller was working as a bookkeeper at the tender age of just 16 and built up a lot of experience at several different businesses, taking a real interest in oil refining.

John D. Rockefeller
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In 1870, he founded the Standard Oil Company and ran it all the way through to 1897, remaining its primary shareholder. As gasoline and kerosene became so crucial to the American people, Rockefeller’s fortune grew exponentially. His peak wealth was the modern-day equivalent of around $409 billion.