Robber Barons or Industrial Giants
In the late19th and early 20th centuries, a severely divided, 100-year old nation called the United States of America, underwent major transformations that would forever change America and the world. The cause of the changes was America’s Industrial Era, which began roughly eleven years after the Civil War ended. The industrialization of America could not have started and continued without big money, and the leaders and financiers of the movement were capitalists. Capitalists were men who had accumulated massive fortunes, such as John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, and Andrew Carnegie, and they used their money to make more money, while at the same time industrializing America. These men, and others like …show more content…
Rockefeller. They honestly state that as a petroleum refiner, Mr. Rockefeller forced his smaller competitors to sell out to him, or he forced them to shut down by undercutting their prices. To further their point, disapproving authors say this strategy decreased competition, because it enabled the capitalists to acquire new companies and form “trusts”, which in reality were monopolies. While their disapproval of such activities is apparent, the information the writers provide is a valuable part of history.
In contrast, writers who approve of the progress of industrialization in America will pay homage to the business tycoons, and refer to them as “captains of industry” or industrial giants. They are quick to point out that “while the [industrialization leaders’] practices weren 't viewed as ethical, most of the 19th century … barons didn 't commit any illegal acts”1. To elaborate on the previous statement, it is important for history readers to remember that this was a time in America when the government was trying to rebuild a nation that was suffering the devastating effects of the Civil War. Therefore, when the industrial movement began, it brought new problems on a large scale that previously did not exist. Consequently, government laws and regulations regarding business practices did not exist either. As an example, Andrew Carnegie, “who led the expansion of the steel industry in the late 19th century”1 was able
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Robber barons, famously known for their ruthless means of acquiring wealth back in the late nineteenth century. They were awful. They were complete menaces to society and only ever created wealth for themselves. Or, at least that 's what is commonly taught in high school American history classes, but author Burton Folsom Jr. offers an unique alternative perspective in his book, The Myth of the Robber Barons. He provides a closer look at the results achieved by these infamous robber barons to give insight into what actually happened in the wake of these entrepreneurs’ conducted business. Folsom uses seven chapters on separate industries ran by robber barons to show, at least from an overall economic view, The United States experienced a gross net benefit by the existence of robber barons.
During the post Civil War period many capitalists took over and ramped up industry. There were also individuals who took industries and monopolized them. Many historians who look back at these capitalists who shaped the post Civil War industry argue about whether they should be viewed as captains of industry who developed large industry, or as robber barons who used industry and monopolies to achieve wealth and take advantage of the working class. This essay will show why they were captains of industry.
After the end of the Civil War, industrialization and urbanization blossomed and changed the nation. Instead of presidential power, men were aiming to be industrial tycoons for their wealth and power. To the people, these capitalists were regarded as either admirable “captains of industry” or corrupt “robber barons”. Even though to some people they may seem like “captains of industry”, but they were actually corrupt “robber barons” for several reasons regarding corruption, employee issues, and matters of the social classes.
An American writer, Susan Sontag, stated that capitalism is, “the ideology [which] makes us all into connoisseurs of liberty—of the indefinite expansion of possibility”. From 1850 to 1907, there was a mass immigration to America and the rise of ‘Gilded Age’ which the United States population and economy grew quickly. Capitalism is a social and economic system where both the means of production and any associate trades are privately owned. During 1850 to 1907, there were a number of factors which contributed to the rise of Capitalism such as: significant entrepreneurial figures such as Henry Ford; mass immigration and cheap labour; and Railway and telegraph lines expansion to transport goods to be sold.
In a book published in 1991 by Burt Folsom, The Myth of the Robber Barons is essentially a book about two theories competing against one another, which is the political versus the market entrepreneurs. The book adamantly persuades the reader into believing market entrepreneurship has provided Americans with greater results versus political entrepreneurs featuring from real life scenarios to back up Mr. Folsom claims. He pointed out several market entrepreneurs in his book such as J.D. Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, James Hill and Charles Schwab as ones who helped changed the economic climate for Americans by providing superior and lower-cost products and/or services than its competitors. Mr. Folsom continued to shine light on several political
Near the last decades of the 19th century, America’s industrial economy skyrocketed. As these industrial leaders like Carnegie and Rockefeller not only lead the expansion through their respective industries, but revolutionized businesses while crushing free-market competition in the process. As
The late nineteenth century was an era of growth in the USA. It introduced railroads, telephone lines, opportunities for entrepreneurs, and cheap goods for consumers. Mark Twain dubbed this time period the Gilded Age; the period was glittering on the surface but corrupt underneath. Between 1870 and 1900, corporations grew significantly across the board in number, size, and influence. The newfound efficiency of resources and mass production resulted in an increase in the production of American goods and the amount of unskilled laborers but also created a wide divide between classes and a maldistribution of power. The American people responded to these impacts through both an increased participation in consumerism and the formation of both
The Myth of Robber Barons discusses some of the major entrepreneurs in of the United States from 1850 to 1910. Burton Folsom also discusses these entrepreneur’s key role in their fields and the whole economy of the United States. The entrepreneurs discussed are Commodore Vanderbilt, James J. Hill, The Scranton’s Group, Charles Schwab, John D. Rockefeller, and Andrew Mellon. We know these men as “Robber Barons,” but Folsom argues that these entrepreneurs succeeded by producing quality product and service at a competitive price. He compares so called “Robber Barons” to the political entrepreneurs who rely heavily on government subsidy and make no improvement.
The post-Civil War era was an era filled with political corruption, economic industrialization, and social urbanization largely due to an great surplus budget. With this being the case, the industrial capitalists, such as Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and others, were leaders in this societal boom. However, it would be appropriate to say that most industrial capitalist could be accurately characterized as “robber barons” for they often unethical, self-interested, and corrupt.
From 1865 to 1900, a surge in industry and business began to come into effect. Railroads, oil, steel, and various inventions enabled the rise of these businesses. As time went on, the leaders of the businesses would become more eager to achieve wealth. Some historians have described these people as ‘robber barons’ or people who use extreme methods to control and maintain their wealth and power. Others would chastise that belief, declaring that it is an unjust conclusion to draw. Despite the oppositions fervent belief, the undeniable evidence supports the belief that many of the businessmen in the late 19th century were ‘robber barons’. These men had a blatant disregard for human lives and an unquenchable urge to assume control over citizens’ lives that instilled corruption and greed in them.
Accurately established by many historians, the capitalists who shaped post-Civil War industrial America were regarded as corrupt “robber barons”. In a society in which there was a severe imbalance in the dynamics of the economy, these selfish individuals viewed this as an opportunity to advance in their financial status. Thus, they acquired fortunes for themselves while purposely overseeing the struggles of the people around them. Presented in Document A, “as liveried carriage appear; so do barefooted children”, proved to be a true description of life during the 19th century. In hopes of rebuilding America, the capitalists’ hunger for wealth only widened the gap between the rich and poor.
To what extent is it justified to characterize the industrial leaders of the 1865–1900 era as either “robber barons” or “industrial statesmen”?
Was it innovation or greed and corruption that played a pivotal role in making the United States the leading industrialized nation in the world during the late 19th Century and early 20th Century, also known as the Gilded Age? In the book, Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson the author describes how greed and corruption by the United States government ultimately leads to poor decisions after a horrific disaster in 1900 [Larson]. In addition, well-researched essays by Henry Demarest Lloyd and Emma Goldman back up Larson’s theory that the Gilded Age was actually a very dark time for the United States.
Throughout American industrialization, large industries were run by some of the richest men in history. These men got the nickname “robber barons” due to their creation of large monopolies by making questionable business and government activities, and by taking advantage of their workers to succeed. But in The Myth of the Robber Barons by Burton W. Folsom, he argues against these claims, and he takes a deeper look into some of America’s richest and most successful men. By specifically looking at Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D. Rockefeller, James J. Hill, the Scranton family and many more, Folsom believed that these so-called robber barons were actually entrepreneurs with a drive to succeed, leading to an improvement in American lives.
“As the growth of industrial development increased so did the accumulation of massive industries and corporations”. This had changed The United States of America into being urbanized instead of being a rural area. Then many businessmen like Andrew Carnegie, John D Rockefeller, and Cornelius Vanderbilt had big industrial tycoons which had a massive benefit for them and for their society because they had an increase in mass production which ultimately changed the face of the United States of America from being a rural society into being an urban society.