The Art of Manliness blog has a nifty post about 25 self-made men in American history, people who came from unpromising circumstances but pulled themselves by the bootstraps to become successful.
Many of the men listed are the usual suspect, but it included someone I'd never thought of before:
Puff, Puff Daddy, P. Diddy-whatever you want to call him, the name Sean Combs most deserves is that of self-made man. Mr. Combs claims to work harder than anyone else in the entertainment business, and he has the success to show for it. Born in public housing projects in Harlem, Sean’s father was shot to death when Sean was only 2. At age 12, Combs, who was too young to officially have his own paper route, found a way around the rule by taking over the routes of several older boys and giving them 50% of his earnings. He was soon making over $700 a week as a paperboy. After high school, Mr. Combs interned at Uptown Records while he attended Howard University. He dropped out and took an executive position with the company. Fired from the label in 1993, Combs formed his own company-Bad Boy Records.
In addition to producing hit artists like the Notorious B.I.G., P. Diddy started putting out his own successful rap records and diversifying his business interests. His enterprises now include the Sean John clothing line, a cologne, the Making the Band television series, and a restaurant in Atlanta. With a net worth estimated to be around $324 million, Combs has taken full ownership of his life and done it with style.
Link - Thanks Mu!
The first thing I noticed was the obvious absence of George Washington. He came from average means to start an extremely successful career in surveying, eventually making heaps of money. He served in the British army, was distinguished in battle, and retired to a life of farming and distilling until a certain Revolution, which he was most responsible for winning. Oh, and he was the first (and some argue best) president of the United States.
Second, where is Bill Gates? He was a college dropout, for Pete's sake, and he went on to become the richest man on Earth. He doesn't quite fit the tone of the list, since his parents made good money and he lived comfortably during his youth, but cmon, making 50 billion dollars through his own hard work counts for that.
@sigh: actually, "government handouts" in the sense of a strong social safety net actually facilitate social mobility, a metric the US scores very low in, I'm sorry to say.