Cornelius Vanderbilt


Vanderbilt's advice

This testimony by Vanderbilt comes from an 1867 hearing before the Railroad Committee in Albany regarding a dispute between the Hudson River Railroad and Vanderbilt's New York Central Railroad (quoted in Wheaton Lane's biography of Vanderbilt).

An examiner brought the testimony around the the question of the public and asked Vanderbilt whether the people did not have rights as well as himself and the NY Central Railroad.

“I have always served the public to the best of my ability,” retorted the Commodore. “Why? Because, like every other man, it is my interest to do so, and to put them to as little inconvenience as possible. I don’t think there is a man in the world who would go further to serve the public than I.”

“Did you not know that the law provides a remedy for all wrongs, and that railroad corporations have no right to take the redress of their own wrongs into their own hands to the detriment of the public?”

“The law, as I view it, goes too slow for me when I have the remedy in my own hands.”

“Could not the Hudson River Railroad enforce their claim for the $100,000 through the courts of the law?”

“They might; I will not give an opinion on that point. I stated a while ago that I for one will never go to a court of law when I have got the power in my own hands to see myself right. Let the other parties go to law if they want, but by --- I think I know what the law is; I have had enough of it.”

“Would you recommend all other citizens to pursue the same course?”

“I would recommend them all to pursue the course I pursue. What is it? To do nothing wrong; to pursue a straight-forward, direct course, and deal with everybody else as you would like to have them deal with you.”

More on Vanderbilt