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In the 1996 book The Wealthy 100, authors Michael Klepper and Robert Gunther placed John D. Rockefeller atop the list of the richest Americans in history, followed by Cornelius Vanderbilt and John Jacob Astor. Bill Gates was the top living person, coming in fifth.
Business Insider agreed on Rockefeller in first, but placed Andrew Carnegie second, followed by Vanderbilt and Gates.
By half decade