Business leaders of the late nineteenth century were both “robber barons” and “captains of industry.” Some entrepreneurial skills of certain leaders produced economic growth, while some unscrupulously hindered it with fraud. Great inventive leaders such as Cornelius Vanderbilt, Leland Stanford, and Andrew Carnegie initiated economic growth in businesses, while others, such as John D. Rockefeller, were shady, but still contributed a lot to the history of business and economy. Whether honest and great, or greedy and self-seeking, the nineteenth century was a plutocracy.
Although some say that he did not care about any industry but his own, Rockefeller built a great industrial empire and donated lots of money to churches and schools. Rockefeller founded Standard Oil, and along with an oil company, he created a monopoly by buying out all of the other oil companies, through horizontal integration. Rockefeller and his associates kind of cheated the system with their monopoly with the Standard Oil Trust. The trust was a corporation of corporations, and the size of it as well as the wealth it raked in was extremely noticed. Nine trustees, including Rockefeller, ran the 41 companies in the trust. He clearly was a shady business man…however, from his very first paycheck, Rockefeller tithed ten percent of his earnings to his church. He also provided major funding for a college in Atlanta for African-American women, which became Spelman College. Rockefeller also gave donated to Denison University and other Baptist colleges. Some say he was extremely greedy, but I believe it is rather gray. He was not as great as Stanford, Vanderbilt, or Carnegie, though.
Stanford is responsible for the Central Pacific Railroad, which connected the East and the West and provided jobs for nearly 4,000 men. Vanderbilt made his fortune through industry, as well with a ferry business as well as railroads. And as for Carnegie, he expanded the steel industry, and later sold it to the...
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