John Jacob Astor: America’s first millionaire
John Jacob Astor could best be described as a money-making-machine, a man who combined business sense, ambition, ruthlessness and luck to become America's first millionaire. Ownership of Manhattan -- all of it -- seemed to be the only goal beyond his reach; but just barely. Born in Baden, Germany, in 1763, the third son of a poor butcher, Astor received a better education than most underprivileged youths of the time. One brother, Henry, had left for New York while another, George, opened a shop in London to sell musical instruments. Shortly before his 17th birthday, Astor left school and joined George in London. In 1783, Astor immigrated to America, arriving in Manhattan with £5 in his pocket. He landed a job as a peddler, hawking baked goods from a basket as he walked through the town.