Studying entrepreneurs and wondering is it likely that someone else in Cornelius Vanderbilt's era could have accomplished a commensurate degree of success in his business areas, had he not been in the picture?

1 Answer
Aug 26, 2017



That is a very open-ended question. Given the history of mankind, the intellectual and technological developments, and the many examples of simultaneous or independent discovery, someone would likely have accomplished the same at the time.

People's accomplishments are often a product more of their times than their individual character. What is possible with a given character is limited more by the environment (social, technical, physical) than by the character. Thus, it is not a unique characteristic of a person that raises them in history - as those characteristics are common to many others - but the circumstances in which that character finds itself.

The name "Vanderbilt" is a happenstance of history. Had he not existed, another person very likely would have seen similar opportunities and taken similar actions to accomplish similar outcomes.