The Myth Of Robber Barons By Burton W. Folsom

1141 Words5 Pages
Aishwarya Nandini
Jonathan M. Steplyk
HIST 1312-012
19 October 2017
Book Review: The Myth of the Robber Barons by Burton W. Folsom

The Myth of Robber Barons is a short, but excellent book that talks about the entrepreneurs of early America. It argues against the misconception that the successful businessmen of the 19th century, often called the “robber barons”, amassed a big fortune by robbing the general public, whereas, they became wealthy because they offered good quality products and services at low prices which in turn attracted so many Americans to do business with them.
According to Folsom, there are two different kinds of entrepreneurs, market entrepreneurs and political entrepreneurs. Political entrepreneurs were the ones who
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Unfortunately for them, Cornelius Vanderbilt, a market entrepreneur, defeated Fulton, Collins and Cunard. Vanderbilt defeated the Fulton NY/NJ steamship-transport monopoly by offering lower rates, earning a reputation for his punctuality, investing in faster and larger ships and providing additional services such as concessions. Apart from this, Folsom claims that market entrepreneurs should not be labeled as robber barons at all. He believes that market entrepreneurs were behind the actual growth of America. Unlike political entrepreneurs, they made sound products and took little or no aid from the government. Market entrepreneurs were known as risk-takers and charitable people. Many of them donated money to the needy, built libraries, gave land to farmers and let people go on ships for free or they had a cheaper fare. A few of the most charitable market entrepreneurs were Andrew Carnegie James J. Hill, Cornelius Vanderbilt and John D. Rockefeller.
In the later chapters Folsom talks more about these great entrepreneurs. The second chapter of the book talks about the transcontinental railway tycoon, James J. Hill. Hill built the Great Northern without any government aid while remaining highly profitable and efficient. Hill, unlike others, meticulously planned his railways and mapped out the best routes using the least amount of rail possible, while his competitors went for expensive, subsidy draining scenic routes. Folsom proves by using efficiency, price

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