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Guide to the Papers of Aaron Vanderbilt
1835-1979 (bulk 1863-1913)
  MS 654

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


@ 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Jan Hilley

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on November 04, 2011
Description is in English.

Biographical Note

1844 Aaron Vanderbilt born at Tompkinsville, Staten Island, New York (January 29). (Earliest American ancestor was Jan Aertsen Van der Bilt, Dutch immigrant, 1650, who settled in Flatbush, Long Island, N.Y. Distant relative of Cornelius Vanderbilt; great grandfather was John Vanderbilt, one of the first members of New York Legislature.)
1859 Vanderbilt left school and began business career as a clerk in a shipping concern. Subsequently served in Merchant Marines.
1863 Joined U.S. Navy in response to Lincoln's call for volunteers.
1863-1865 Civil War Action (U.S. Navy - Master's Mate, Ensign, Fleet Signal Officer) (Serving on the ship Malvern, Battles of Fort Fisher and other engagements including the siege of Petersburg and Richmond; assigned as part of Lincoln's escort on his visit to the fallen Richmond.)
1865 Discharged and re-entered business.
1869 Married Lillie L. Wheeler Two daughters - Lillian (Speir) and Edith (Diamond)
1877 Appointed General Superintendent of the Ward line of steamships (New York & Cuba Mail Steamship Co.)
1885 Served as a guard of honor while the remains of Ulysses S. Grant were lying in state.
1886 One of the founders of the American Shipping and Industrial League; served as its treasurer and represented American shipping interests during the Fiftieth and Fifty-first Congresses.
1889 Instrumental in securing passage of act establishing New York State Naval Militia.
1898 Served, during the Spanish-American War, as senior officer in command of New York's naval force and later as chief of ordnance of the New York Naval Reserve (subsequently retired with rank of Lieutenant-Commander.)
1905 Retired from active business.
1913 Died. Buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Due to his efforts, Aaron Vanderbilt is credited with the establishment of the U.S. Naval Reserve as an auxiliary to the navy. He was a member of the Merchant Marine League of the United States, the Naval Order of the United States, the Society of the Army of the Potomac, the U.S. Navy League, the U.S. Naval Institute, Annapolis, MD, the New York Board of Trade, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Grand Army of the Republic and the Military Order of the Loyal League.

Further information may be found in The National Cyclopedia of American Biography. New York: James T. White & Company, 1896. Volume 6, Pages 213-214.