The following is an original extract taken from the proof sheets of the next number of th " Knickerbocker Magazine," by Mr. Curti respecting the rise and progress of Cornelius Vanderbilt, Esq., the proprietor of the " North Star:" Until the age of sixteen, Mr. Vanderbilt was brought up on a small farm on Staten Island, owned and cultivated by his father. Arrived at this age, however, he found himself with a growing desire to make his livelihood by following the sea. He therefore left the farm, and commenced running a small sail boat between Staten Island and New York, which was owned by his lather. After the age of nineteeen he commenced life on his own account, following the same business for the space of two years. This brought him to the beginning of 1817, when his business life began with an activity and increased with an energy seldom equalled and more rarely surpassed. He now took charge of a small steamer running between New York and Elizabethtown, N. J., belonging to Thomas Gibbons. In 1818 he attended to the building of the steamer ' Bellona,' and was her captain for five years. In 18S0, he built the steamer ' Caroline." which, it will be remembered, in the troubles on the Canadian borders, in the commencement of the ' Patriot' movement, was cut out at night at Schlosser, on the Niagara river, and sent, wrapt in flames, over the Great Cataract. This was the first steamer which Captain Vanderbilt built on his own account. In 1821, he built the ' Fanny;' in 1822, the 'Thistle' and the 'Emerald;' in 1824 the 'Swan;'in 1826, the 'Citizen;' in 1827-8, the ' Cinderella,' the 'Clifton,' the 'Union,' the ' Champion,' the ' Nimrod,' the ' Livingston,' the ' Cleopatra,' the ' Sound Champion,' the ' North Carolina,' the ' Governor Dudley,' the Vanderbilt,' the'' Gladiator.' These last four steamers he built for a company, for the purpose of running between Washington and Charleston, forming the regular mail line. Then Captain Vanderbilt built the ' Sylph,' the ' Augusta,' the ' Emerald,' the ' Red Jacket,' the ' Hugenot,' the ' Hannah Burt,' and the ' Eastern,'all fine boatsthe ' C. Vanderbilt ' and ' Commodore,' which formed the great Boston line by the way of Stonington and the Railroad. Captain Vanderbilt next built eight steamers for the Transportation Company, and the five steamers (?) that ran between Havana and Mantanzas. He also purchased, refitted, and ran the ' New Haven,' the ' Huntress,' the ' Water-Witch,' and the ' Worcester.' His next ' American productions' in this kind were the steamships 'Prometheus,' the 'Daniel Webster,' the 'Star of the West,'the'Northern Light,' and the ' North Star.' Nor are the vessels here enumerated all that have been built by Capt. Vanderbilt; there are several others whose names we cannot now recall. Now we should like to have this hasty sketch of a poor American farmer's boy's early career and after advancementthis patent lesson of what industry, energy, enterprize, and integrity, can accomplish in a country of free institutions and tree American republicanswe should be glad to have it seen and felt in the various quarters of Europe where the steamer North Star shall unfurl the flag of our country. Mr. Vanderbilt has been, as we have seen, entirely the architect of his own fortunes. Amassing immense wealth, he has, at the same time, made the fortunes ot thousands of others. He is now a large proprietor of manufacturing and engine building establish- ments. He probably gives employment tc more hands than any other one man in America.
This article was originally published with the title "The Steam Yacht North Star" in Scientific American 8, 40, 314 (June 1853)