Robber Barons Analysis

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What does Zinn mean by referring to industrialists like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller as “robber barons”? What did they do to deserve that name? Why do Schweikart and Allen refer to them as “titans of industry”? What good do they think Rockefeller and Carnegie did? By referring to industrialists like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller as robber barons, Zinn means they acquired their wealth through dishonest means. For example, Rockefeller removed a rival refinery with “a small explosion arranged by Standard Oil officials with the refinery’s chief mechanic”. In addition, Carnegie became a millionaire by selling bonds for people and charging them enormous commissions (Zinn 257). In contrast, Schweikart and Allen refer to Carnegie…show more content…
as caused by the interests of the upper class. He states, “the ideology of expansion was widespread in the upper circles of military men, politicians, businessmen—and even among some of the leaders of farmers’ movements who thought foreign markets would help” (Zinn 298). The elite wanted expansion mainly to increase foreign trade, to take advantage of foreign markets, and acquire resources. In Cuba, Americans “began taking over railroad, mine, and sugar properties when the war ended” (Zinn 310). However, there were also extremely negative consequences. The Spanish War affected the lower class negatively by raising prices dramatically, and crushing the rebellion in the Philippines led to an enormous death rate on both sides (Zinn 312-313). Conversely, Schweikart and Allen state that American intervention was often in the interests of both countries. They describe the annexation of Hawaii as reasonable because Hawaii had asked for annexation before and because the U.S. did not want the islands to become a part of Japan (Schweikart and Allen…show more content…
While Zinn argues that the U.S. fought the war mainly because of business interests, Schweikart and Allen expand on the topic and point out three concerns including the one Zinn named. First, there was the political component in which Americans sympathized with the Cubans’ yearning for independence. Second, businessmen had important interests on the island, cultivated over several decades. Sugar, railroads, shipping, and other enterprises gave the United States an undeniable economic interest in Cuba, while at the same time putting Americans in a potential crossfire.Third, there was the moral issue of Weyler;s treatment of the Cubans, which appealed to American humanitarianism (Schweikart and Zinn 483). In addition, Schweikart and Allen give detailed descriptions of the battles that happened during the Spanish American War, while Zinn simply states that the “Spanish forces were defeated in three months” (Zinn 309). The authors also explain the end result of the battle, reporting that the United States bought Guam, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico, but did not annex Cuba. Schweikart and Zinn’s interpretation is more compelling because they describe all aspects of the war, whereas Zinn only explains a couple of
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