Top 10 Richest People in American History

Wealthy Americans have come from every age. Here's a quick look at the 10 richest historical Americans who are no longer alive, ranked in reverse order. Note that their estimated wealth figures are in today's dollars and are general estimates.

Jay Gould, $71 billion

This railroad tycoon of the Gilded Age was known for swindling and bribing his way to the top.

Frederick Weyerhäuser, $79.4 billion

German immigrant Weyerhäuser is most remembered for the timber company that still bears his name and trades on the New York Stock Exchange.

Alexander Turney Stewart, $100 billion

Stewart, an Irish-born textile manufacturer, made a fortune selling uniforms to the Union Army during the Civil War. He also ran a successful retail dry goods business.

Stephen Van Rensselaer III, $116.5 billion

Van Rensselaer came from wealth and went on to be a U.S. Congressman. Although he was once one of the wealthiest Americans in history, he hit hard times and died with nothing but debts.

An interesting side note for fans of Hamilton: Van Rensselaer married Peggy Schuyler.

Richard Mellon, $118.8 billion

Mellon was a banker and an industrialist who had a hand in everything from railroads to steel, and with his brother Andrew helped found Gulf Oil, Mellon Bank and the Alcoa Corporation.

Stephen Girard, $138.4 billion

Girard was a French-born sea captain who amassed a fleet of trading ships and became a financier, even lending the U.S. Government money during the War of 1812.

John Jacob Astor, $159 billion

Aster was born a poor German immigrant. After starting as a fur trader, moving into real estate, and marrying into a prominent family, he died the richest man in America in 1848.

Andrew Carnegie, $300 billion

Scottish immigrant Carnegie founded a steel company that he eventually sold to J.P. Morgan's U.S. Steel, at which point he embarked on a famous campaign of philanthropy and charity.

John D. Rockefeller, $400 billion

Rockefeller founded Standard Oil, which controlled the vast majority of oil produced in the U.S. until it was broken up into many of the most recognizable names in the industry today, such as Chevron, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips.