A “robber baron” is defined as one who uses immoral methods to get rich. John D. Rockefeller, king of oil and the owner of the Standard Oil Company, was known for these unscrupulous tactics. Rockefeller’s peculiar ideas of the “law of nature” in accordance with his “primitive savagery” allowed this stealthy businessman to manipulate his way to the top. Although Rockefeller’s oil monopoly attributed to the wealth of the American economy, he destroyed the morality of modest men to accomplish ultimate power and prestige making him one of the wealthiest industrialists during his time.
For instance, John D. Rockefeller pursued numerous of strategies, to try to eliminate his competitors. From horizontal integration, in which he tried to buy or force his competitors out, to vertical integration, which Andrew Carnegie also practiced, meaning they eventually owned everything they needed to produce. J. Pierpont Morgan had a different strategy in an attempt to monopolize his company, he would help merge competing corporations by purchasing massive amounts of stocks and selling them at a profit. These strategies helped capitalize the entrepreneurs control in the growing
His work, The Tycoons: How Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Jay Gould, and J. P. Morgan Invented the American Supereconomy, allows readers to see a more picture perfect outlook on what the lives of these men entitled. Morris’s book was published in 2005, which allows readers to get a perspective from a long period of time and closer to reality rather than other historians writing on this era. The last author that allows readers to view the Robber Barons in a different manor is James Nuechterlein in his journal article Gifts of the “Robber Barons.” Nuechterlein wrote this article in 2007 allowing readers to view the men through historical resources that he uncovered. His stance shows a more balanced approach to the Robber Barons rather than saying one or the other was a better man than the other.
Justification of this is seen in Document 3, as Andrew Carnegie writes, “The problem of our age is the proper administration of wealth so that the ties of brotherhood may still bind together the rich and poor in harmony.” Surely, a manipulative man would not believe in such fair distribution of wealth. Carnegie is also famous for large charitable donations, meaning his business methods were not enacted solely for his own benefit. This statement highlights Carnegie’s compassionate side and proves that he is not completely a “robber baron.” Similarly to Carnegie, Rockefeller’s compassionate side is also portrayed in Document 7.
Carnegie, who was a believer of Social darwinism, which was a belief held by many that stated that the rich were rich and the poor were poor due to natural selection in society. This was the basis of many people who promoted a laissez faire style of economy. He believed if you worked hard, you could be successful. He believed that a man of wealth should set modest examples and help those in need (DOC E) Carnegie donated more than 150 billion of dollars for libraries, colleges and concert halls. The high population density of the early twentieth century put pressure on fragile infrastructures and demanded insight from urban planners and politicians.
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.
After the Civil War, the Second Industrial Revolution was established due to America’s rapid growth for industry and economics. Capitalists during the industrial period of 1875-1900’s were either accused of being a robber baron or a captain of industry. Some capitalists leaders who were accused of being a robber baron or captain of industry included J.P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, Andrew W. Mellon, and John D. Rockefeller. A robber baron is a business leader who gets rich through cruel and scandalous business practices. The captains of industry is a business leader who wants to better the companies in a way that it would be positively contributing to the country.
Was John D. Rockefeller a robber baron? I’d say so. Through ruthless business tactics and exploitation of workers, he made a fortune in his lifetime. In this paper, I’m going to be talking about said business tactics and exploitation. If you believe Rockefeller was just a good business man who donated to the poor, I hope your view will be changed by the end.
This theory, Social Darwinism, was applied to the monopolistic efforts of businessmen as John D. Rockefeller, Jr. so eloquently stated: “The growth of a large business is merely the survival of the fittest” (Nash p. 417). The Gospel of Wealth based on Social Darwinism is the notion that the massive wealth held by prosperous businessmen was for the social benefit of everyone. The advocates of the Gospel of Wealth such as Andrew Carnegie, Russell Conwell, and Horatio Alger linked wealth with a sense of heightened responsibility as those with more wealth had an equally great obligation to society. Each of the advocates of the Gospel of Wealth came from diverse backgrounds, but preached the same ideals.
These types of men claimed to benefit the society most in these positions of power because, due to their wealth, policies did not affect them personally – they were so rich that essentially nothing could threaten them. This, the rich men claimed, gave them an unbiased perspective on what was best for the whole of the country. “The people” have always been an ever-changing group, as Hamilton noted at the Constitutional Convention, giving their desires a more temporary focus – not the long-term stability desired by the elite for this new republican society.
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.
Social Darwinism is when only the strongest survive, during the Gilded Age this was true. Many businessmen during the time period were people who had a vision and invested time and effort to grow the economy they did what they had to do to make their company survive the economy. Some people's business did not survive because the bigger corporations took them out of business, the business that did not survive are were weak and were not strong enough to survive. It is not the bigger business fault it did not survive, the business did not survive because it could not compete with the competition. Social Darwinism is huge reason why the great industrialist are Captains of Industry.
Underpinnings and Effectiveness of Carnegie’s “Gospel of Wealth” In Andrew Carnegie’s “Gospel of Wealth”, Carnegie proposed a system of which he thought was best to dispose of “surplus wealth” through progress of the nation. Carnegie wanted to create opportunities for people “lift themselves up” rather than directly give money to these people. This was because he considered that giving money to these people would be “improper spending”.
Rockefeller: The Captain of Industry that has helped our country thrive “The best philanthropy” he wrote, is constantly in search of finalities- a search for a cause an attempt to cure evils at their source” - John D. Rockefeller John D. Rockefeller was the richest man of his time but, used his wealth to improve our country. Rockefeller entered the fledgling Oil industry in 1863, by investing in a factory in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1870 Rockefeller established the Standard Oil Company. With the establishment of the oil company Rockefeller controlled 90% of the oil business in America by 1880.
Social Darwinism favored the wealthy. Social Darwinism appealed to Protestant work ethic and supported laissez-faire policies. In Social Darwinism, is was thought that everyone could “prosper with hard work, intelligence, and perseverance.” Social Darwinism was used by men like, Andrew Carnegie. They used it to support their practices.