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Top 10 Richest People In World History Ever
Not even close, though there's no denying they're very, very rich. The richest man of all time, when wealth is measured as a percentage of the national economy, was John D. Rockefeller, whose fortunes made Gates' and Buffet's look downright puny. Keeping score of who's wealthier is like a spectator sport with Forbes magazine as its official referee. That's larger than the GDP of Germany, the third largest economy in the world. But the richest people ever belong in their own special club. These people all men have built fortunes of legendary proportions when calculated at the peak of their wealth. Age at peak wealth: He died two months shy of his 98th birthday, but boy did he make good on the first goal. Rockefeller wasn't born to a rich family. His father, William Avery "Big Bill" Rockefeller was a shiftless man who spent most of his times thinking up schemes to avoid actual work! Nevertheless, thanks to the guidance of his mom Eliza - a homemaker and devout Baptist - John D. Rockefeller started out in business as a wholesale grocer and went on to found Standard Oil, which through shrewd business decisions and some say predatory and illegal practices, grew to be a gargantuan monopoly. In , the US Supreme Court declared Standard Oil a monopoly under the Sherman Antitrust Act and ordered it to be broken up into 34 independent companies with different boards of directors. By that time, Rockefeller had long since retired from the company but still held a large percentage of shares. Ironically, the busting up of Standard Oil unlocked share values and his fortunes doubled overnight. Rockefeller got his first job at 16 as a bookkeeper. As his wealth grew, so did his charitable contributions. When he died in , Rockefeller had given away half of his amassed fortune, and established philanthropic foundations to continue giving after his death. Andrew Carnegie Peak wealth: At 16 years old, Carnegie became a telegraph messenger boy, and soon after was promoted to be a telegraph operator. Carnegie became a personal assistant to Thomas Scott, superintendent of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company and learned the ins and outs of the railroad business. It was Carnegie who invented a brutally efficient way to clear the tracks after a railway accident: He then invested in a company making sleeping cars for the railway. By the time he was 30, Carnegie had expanded his investments to iron works, steamers, railroads, and oil well. But the real money came from steel. In the late s, Carnegie built his steel empire to become the world's largest manufacturer of steel rails, pig iron, and coke. When the bonds were delivered, a special vault had to be built to physically house them! Carnegie was big proponent of philanthropy - in a famous essay "The Gospel of Wealth," he wrote that wealth should be distributed to promote welfare of other people and enrich society. He ruled badly from until he was forced to abdicate in the Russian Revolution of by the Bolsheviks. His reign was marked with antisemitic pogroms, a crushing defeat by Japan in the Russo-Japanese War, revolutions, internal unrests their bloody suppressions, undue influence by the mystic Rasputin and World War I. A year after he was deposed, Nicholas and his entire family were executed by Lenin's order. The life of the last tsar of Russia was filled with fascinating myths, legends, and history - and readers interested in it are encouraged to read more about Nicholas II and the Romanovs. Suffice it to say that Nicholas II became the third richest man in history the old fashioned way: William Henry Vanderbilt Peak wealth: William Vanderbilt was groomed by his father to be a businessman at times harshly - the imperious and domineering Cornelius liked to call his eldest son a "blockhead," "blatherskite," "sucker," and "good for nothing" and William turned out to be quite an able businessman. He expanded the family's railroad empire and thus the family fortune, finally earning his father's respect and friendship. When William died in , he was the richest man in the world. By most accounts, "His Exalted Highness" the Nizam of Hyderabad was a benevolent ruler who promoted education, science and development. He spent about one-tenth of his Principality's budget on education, and even made primary education compulsory and free for the poor. In his year rule, Hyderabad witnessed the introduction of electricity, railways, roads, and other development projects. Andrew got his start early: He also got into oil, steel, shipbuilding, and construction business. In , President Warren G. Harding appointed the financier Mellon as the Secretary of the Treasury, where he served for 10 years under three U. At that post, Mellon increased federal revenue by decreasing the taxation rate and cutting federal spending. Henry Ford Peak wealth: But after the death of his beloved mother, Henry, who didn't particularly like farming, left home in at the age of 16 to work as an apprentice machinist. At 28, Henry Ford became an engineer at Thomas Edison's company and started experimenting with gasoline engines with Edison's approval. In , at the age of 36, Ford started his first car company, the Detroit Automobile Company, which went bankrupt two years later. Soon afterwards, he set up his second company, the Henry Ford Company. A year later, his partners hired Henry M. Leland to troubleshoot problems on the shop floor. Ford's partner, Alexander Malcomson was able to convince the Dodge brothers to invest in the company instead and the company was reincorporated as the Ford Motor Company. And a good thing they did because third time was the charm. Henry Ford's name became synonymous with automobiles for good reasons: He also popularized the use of assembly lines in mass productions, high workers' wages to attract talent and discourage employee turnover, franchise model car dealerships, and even the 5-day workweek. One interesting note about Henry Ford: On one occasion, his son Edsel contracted the building of a new office building with much needed space for the Accounting division. When Henry asked what the space was for, Edsel acknowledged that it was for the accounting department. The very next day, when the accountants showed up for work, they found their office had been stripped - no desks, chairs, or telephones; even the carpeting was gone - and that Henry had fired them all. Marcus Licinius Crassus Peak wealth: He was a Roman general and politician who defeated the slave revolt led by Spartacus. If you think the rest of the businessmen on this list were ruthless - in reality they've got nothing on Crassus. The Roman general became wealthy when he bought the homes and belongings from the victims of Sulla's sacking of Rome Crassus was one of Sulla's generals for cheap. He then re-sold them at a princely profit. Crassus then expanded his wealth through the slave trade, silver mining, and real estate, especially by buying houses of those declared enemies of the state for next to nothing. But it was Crassus' acquisition of burning houses that earned him his lasting notoriety. He maintained a troop of skilled builders - and when a fire broke out in Rome back then a frequent occurrence , he negotiated the sale of the burning properties and those nearby for cheap. Once he obtained the properties, he called upon his men to demolish the burning property and save the nearby buildings that was the preferred technique of fighting fire during Roman times. He then rebuilt and leased back the property to the original owners! At one point, Crassus owned a large part of Rome and some wondered whether the fires might not have actually been his doing Crassus was so greedy that when he died, his enemies had his head severed and molten gold poured into his mouth as a mark of his greed Source. Basil II Peak wealth: For historians, Basil II's reign represented the apex of the Middle Byzantine Empire - he expanded the territory of the empire by annexing Bulgaria, making it the largest and strongest it had ever been in nearly five centuries. Basil had no heir, and within half a century of his death, the Byzantine Empire crumbled. Cornelius Vanderbilt Peak wealth: It's from this business operating ships that he got his nickname "Commodore" that stuck for the rest of his life, even after he started getting into the railroad business. Vanderbilt was ruthless in business. He once wrote a short and now famous letter to Charles Morgan and C. The two men manipulated his steamship company's stock in his absence and took it over. The letter read "Gentlemen: I won't sue you, for the law is too slow. Yours truly, Cornelius Vanderbilt. Despite of their wealth - or perhaps because of it, the Vanderbilt family wasn't a happy one. The Commodore was constantly thinking of his will, which he called "that paper. Indeed, he disowned all of his sons other than William see above , believing that only William was ruthless enough in business to be capable of maintaining his empire. I didn't come up with the idea for the list - the top 10 list presented here is but a small part of a larger list on Wikipedia. For the complete list, visit Wealthy Historical Figures
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