Robber Barons or Captains of Industry

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Georgette CharalambousMay 2, 2012
People argue whether John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and Henry Ford are robber barons or captains of industry. Robber barons were business leaders who built their fortunes by stealing from the public and captains of industry were business leaders who served their nation in a positive way. These three entrepreneurs were robber barons, for they either did many good things for the nation but had tricks up their sleeve, or were just leaders that treated people unfairly. Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, and Andrew Carnegie were robber barons during the 1900’s. John D. Rockefeller was a robber baron because he monopolized the oil industry, barely donated to the community and led the workers to harsh conditions. When Rockefeller monopolized the industry, it was bad enough that he was going against the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890, which stated that having a monopoly was illegal. He even stated, “The coal oil business belongs to us,” after owning most of the companies due to his monopoly. The trick behind this act was to lower the prices of oil so everyone could afford it. Even though this sounds very beneficial for the community, it was bad once Rockefeller was able to own every single company and raise the prices back up, leaving the people with no choice. Since automobiles were also much cheaper and more consumers were buying them, it would lead to more consumers buying oil from Rockefeller and only him. People stated he was a captain of industry because he helped people in poverty, but raising prices back up would not make it any better. Rockefeller also donated $8 billion to the economy, along with controlling 1.52% of it. Even though $8 billion was an extreme amount of money, it was nothing compared to his $66.3 billion dollars. Finally, Rockefeller’s workers were working in harsh conditions and treated unfairly. Even though he gave bonuses and high wages so they could work harder, only the unemployed men were...
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