As industry began to grow in America, a select group of pioneers such as Andrew Carnegie became controversial. The controversy was that they were simply rich and took from the poor. People who participated in such acts were referred to as “Robber Barons”. It is often said that Andrew Carnegie was a “Robber Baron” but he was not because in his case, he was one of the first people to bring industry to such a large scale. Without people before him, he had no guidance and therefore it was much harder to conduct business because he was essentially creating his own path.
During the period of the Gilded Age, the United States was controlled by the corporations owned by robber barons. Men such as Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Morgan used money to place their own foothold in the entire economic and political system of the united states. They were able to control wages, adjust prices, buy out all competition, and avoid nearly all punishment. They held their workers under them to build their business. These business’ products were such a necessity they were able to control the entire nation.
While in "Gilded Age", all levels of government had corruption, graft public money for their own. One of the most notorious New York City Boss Tweed William M. Tweed, his wealth has more than $25 million in 1871, all was dirty money. During the period he served as mayor of New York, the city requires all public officials to report false, false ratio as high as 85%. He presided over the construction of the New York county government office buildings, 40 chairs and 3 tables then discount about $179000, but a thermometer was quoted $7500. According to statistics, in 1860 ~ 1900, American municipal debt by $200 million soared to $1.4 billion, most of them are the City boss and partisans pocketed.
The late 19th century was full of growth, production, and business. People were craving power and seemed to achieve this through any means necessary. Consequently, a new business elite formed consisting of the richest men alive. The way in which these individuals acquired all their profits is something very contradictory even over one-hundred years later. Some historians characterize these businessmen as “robber barons” who used extreme methods to control and concentrate wealth and power, and being supported by multiple sources, this statement is justified but only to some extent.
After the Reconstruction of America, we entered into a time referred to as “The Gilded Age”. In this time period, there were a few monumental companies that tried to be the one and only of their type, a few examples would be the US Steel Co., and the Standard Oil Co. These companies were rising up and trying to completely eliminate all other companies that would compete against them, and ultimately, have a monopoly on the product or service. At the time, this wasn’t illegal, but people who were trying to rival these grandiose companies were enraged. Therefore, they started calling them “Robber Barons” referring to the old ranks of nobility, where a baron was an owner of a large segment of land.
Through our country's history, we have always dealt with power inequality. It has been an issue since as far as we can remember, although specifically the late 19th century was a very climatic era for the United States. It is considered to be the time of the most exceptional growth, prosperity, and innovation. Even so, the country had also been sent into a devastation because of the Civil War. The prime difficulty during this time was not only the constant struggles between the gap of the rich and the poor, but also the extreme fights towards power and wealth.
Robber Barons and Captains of Industry Some might believe that the businessmen of the Gilded age are robber barons because of how some of them treated their workers and spent their money. The businessmen of the Gilded Age were captains of industry because of the impact that they made on the country. Carnegie, Rockefeller, Morgan, and Vanderbilt all have done things that can identify them as captains of industry. These businessmen gave their time and effort to help the economy grow.
The Gilded Age, the period of the history of the United States from the Reconstruction to the early 20th century, witnessed the development of industrialization, urbanization, the construction of great transcontinental railroads, innovations in science and technology, and the rise of big business. There were many capable leaders who were building a better future. Vanderbilt stopped at nothing to connect the nation via railroads. Rockefeller used his trademark ruthlessness to establish his oil empire. Cities were expending to the sky, this was built on the strength of Andrew Carnegie’s steel.
Was Cornelius Vanderbilt a Robber Baron or Captain of Industry? A cruel businessman or an industrious leader? Henry J. Raymond believed that Vanderbilt was “a monopolist that crushed other competitors”(T.J Stiles). While he is also deemed one of America’s leading businessmen, and is also credited for helping shape the United States. His fortunes were made unfairly in some cases but his million dollar contribution to the Navy was very generous.
When Cornelius Vanderbilt died he left his $100 million fortune to his son William Vanderbilt and they both had the same attitude. During the Gilded Age these big business and their owners were thought of as being Robber Barons or Captains of Industry. The poor working conditions that were provided, the corruption they led in government, and their use of child labor shows that they were Robber Barons. Children were used in labor to work a lot and most days of the week. Kids as young as 5 often worked as much as 12 to 14 hours a day for barely any pay.
The saying that history repeats itself has been proven to be true time and time again. History seems to be doomed to repeat itself as if lessons were never learned from past mistakes. The Gilded Age is a unique period in American history that is undoubtedly repeating itself in the modern day. Corruption, unprecedented immigration, and the massing of wealth by the top 1% of the population are just a few of the things that characterize this period of American history. The same issues that plagued America over 100 years ago are re-emerging in todays’ society leading scholars to say that America has arrived in “The Second Gilded Age”.
A robber baron is described as a person, most likely a businessman, who handled their power to progress industrial monopolies, obtaining power from politics, and finally gaining wealth in the process. Whereas, a captain of industry is recognized as a business leader who contributed positively to their own country. Many questions asked, an important one is, “Are Cornelius Vanderbilt, J.P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, and John D. Rockefeller, robber barons or captains of industry?” During the nineteenth century, there were many methods in which the following business men used. For an example, monopoly, a hand in politics, or other unusual business practices.
The Gilded Age was an age of rapid economic growth. Railroads, factories, and mines were slowly popping up across the country, creating a variety of new opportunities for entrepreneurs and laborers alike. These new inventions and opportunities created “...an unprecedented accumulation of wealth” (GML, 601). But the transition of America from a small farming based nation to a powerful industrial one created a huge rift between social classes. Most people were either filthy rich or dirt poor, with workers being the latter.
Industrialist had a huge impact on the gilded age. The gilded age was a rapid expansion of industrialism and a massive jump in the population of immigrants in america. The industrialist during the gilded age such as Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and Vanderbilt had a big impact because of their businesses. Vanderbilt was the first of the three to be a leader of industry. Vanderbilt made millions using the railroad system and built an empire with them.
Industrialists capitalized on plentiful, low cost labor to become extremely wealthy but became known as ‘robber barons’ because industrialists extracted wealth at the expense of those producing the output. Industrialists argued America’s economy would never have attained the heights achieved without them. Jay Gould rhetorically asked where America would be without corporations that developed