Corruption and Greed

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Following Reconstruction in the war torn South, and the Sioux Wars in the West, America was enjoying an industrialization period unlike any other. Nearly gone was the frontier, industries coming in, with men gaining unheard of wealth, and having leverage in many affairs. With the Robber Barons in control over the nation's economy, and men like Andrew Carnegie and John Rockefeller, what occurred is that corruption and graft greatly influenced American industry and business between 1860 to 1900. However, labor organizations such as the Knights of Labor and AFL made steps in labor reforms and other government laws attempted to limit monopolies. Undoubtedly, the Robber Barons were the most influential in the corruption of industries during the 1860's to 1900's. The Robber Barons or Captains of Industry consisted of J.P. Morgan, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jay Gould, Andrew Carnegie, and John Rockefeller. With the aid of graft and bribery, Vanderbilt made his fortune in railroads. Gould was Vanderbilt's fiercest competitor, and with an unwitting President Grant, Jay Gould was able to manipulate the gold market, driving prices down and causing Black Friday (1869) that produced a depression that lasted for years. By the 1890's, many of the railroad lines were near bankruptcy stemming from terrible economic conditions and tough competition. J.P. Morgan, the banker's banker, went in and by 1900, owned half of America's track mileage. Since his friends owned the rest, they were able to set railroad rates in the country, thereby cheating the customer. In another landmark that year, U.S. Steel was born, the first billion-dollar company by anti-union Andrew Carnegie and Morgan. John D. Rockefeller made his cash in the booming oil business. With a group of partners, he started the South Improvement Company. The company was extremely corrupt and soon saw its end. Rockefeller then formed Standard Oil of Cleveland in 1870. The company used sabotage and bribery to get ahead. Rockefeller...
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