5. John Jacob Astor (1763-1848)
> 2018 estimated net worth: $140.3 billion
> Source of wealth: Fur trading, real estate
> Birthplace: Waldorf, Germany
John Jacob Astor personifies the American success story. He moved to America from Germany with no money and started a fur trading business that flourished. After selling his trading enterprise, he invested in New York City real estate. At one point, his company owned hundreds of Manhattan properties.
4. Jeff Bezos (b.1964)
> 2018 estimated net worth: $151.6 billion
> Source of wealth: Amazon
> Birthplace: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has seen his net worth skyrocket over the past year as his company continues to dominate the online shopping marketplace.
3. Sam Walton (1918-1992)
> 2018 estimated net worth: $171.6 billion
> Source of wealth: Walmart
> Birthplace: Kingfisher, Oklahoma
Walmart is America’s largest brick-and-mortar retailer, and its success has largely been guided by the influence of its founder, Sam Walton. He expanded his first retail efforts from overseeing a single Ben Franklin franchised store in Arkansas into managing 15 outlets. After he butted heads with the chain’s management, he decided to open his own stores. The first Wal-Mart opened in 1962, and by 1976 the company was worth more than $176 million.
2. Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877)
> 2018 estimated net worth: $208.4 billion
> Source of wealth: Shipping
> Birthplace: Staten Island, New York
Cornelius Vanderbilt first made his fortune ferrying goods on the rivers surrounding New York City. He later helped establish the railroad industry as a means of transporting goods to the West in the mid-1800s.
1. John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937)
> 2018 estimated net worth: $257.3 billion
> Source of wealth: Standard Oil
> Birthplace: Richford, New York
John D. Rockefeller is one of the most successful businessmen of all time. He established a standard for the quality of oil and strived to run his company, Standard Oil, at peak efficiency. It’s possible that Rockefeller was the first billionaire in the U.S., but he certainly was the wealthiest American ever. His fortune has been estimated to be about one/sixty-fifth of the U.S. gross domestic product.