Industrial Leaders As Robber Barons Essay

946 words - 4 pages

Between 1865 and 1900, the last of the western frontier was being occupied. Gold and silver strikes sent people into areas such as Colorado, Nevada, or Montana. The wild herds of cattle roaming over Texas following the Civil War led to cattle drives, and the promise of free land from the Homestead Act sent hopefuls out west. At the same time, the United States experienced a large industrial growth, and a boosted economy due to the vast amounts of natural resources such as oil and coal; a steady arrival of immigrants who, due to being unskilled and poor, served as a cheap labor supply; development of new technologies that increased productivity; and entrepreneurs who could manage the massive ...view middle of the document...

However, since everything was controlled by just a few men, there were now regional railroad monopolies. This did not help the farmers who already had to pay expensive rates; they began to feel victimized by the railroad’s merciless procedures. One of the best examples of a “railroad mogul” supporting this idea was William Vanderbilt who said, “...the railroads are not run for the benefit of the ‘dear public’…they are built by men who invest their money and expect to get a fair percentage on the same…The public be damned…I don’t take any stock in this silly nonsense about working for anybody’s good but our own…(Document A)”
The railroads were not the only industry that made the workers and public angry. William Graham Sumner said “The captains of industry and capitalists…if they are successful, win, in these days, great fortunes in a short time. This was the case for people such as John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie. The steel industry was lead predominantly by Carnegie, who favored vertical integration as a business strategy. Vertical integration was the idea of a company controlling all aspects of production, from mining the iron ore to shipping out the steel. Carnegie became rich after working his way up from being a poor immigrant, but still did not have higher wages or safety procedures in the steel mills. In his article “Wealth” he wrote, “the contrast between the palace of the millionaire and the cottage of the laborer with us today measures the change which has come with civilization. This change, however, is not to be deplored, but welcomed as highly beneficial (Document C).” The Homestead strike was initiated after a manager of one of Carnegie's steel plants cut the worker’s wages by 20 percent. When the strike failed, the union movement was...

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