Captains of Industry

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In the late 1800s and early 1900s, during the climax of the American Industrial Revolution, there was a small group of men who owned the major businesses and were leaders of their industries. They owned factories, railroads, banks, and even created company towns for the sole purpose of housing their workers. Due to the efforts of these few men, the U.S. economy became the envy of the world, and America became a leading world power. They provided the public with products that were in high demand for reasonable prices, and opened their markets to countries overseas. Although many people believe the early industrialists were Robber Barons who exploited the poor, these great men were truly Captains of Industry who created new ways of doing business, and provided products and services to the public; moreover, they were generous philanthropists who contributed much to society.

Many people believe that these "Robber Barons" were evil, heartless men that took advantage of the poor and the downtrodden. They feel that the workforce employed by these men was nothing more than a group of indentured slaves. "Here was a population, low-class and mostly foreign, hanging always on the verge of starvation, and dependent for its opportunities of life upon the whim of men every bit as brutal and unscrupulous as the old-time slave drivers;" (Sinclair 106). "The corporate robber barons and monopolists of the 19th century stole from the poor while the government looked the other way."(Gallagher) These industrialists made an enormous amount of money from their businesses and controlled their various markets through vast monopolies. They paid their workers very little money for extended periods of labor, and would continuously think of new ways to make an extra buck. Overall, these men were very scrupulous in the way they did their business, and they had very little patience for error and unproductiveness.

Although some of these criticisms are well founded, men like Andrew...
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