Robber Baron Or Captain Of Industry Dbq Essay

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The wave of industrialism that we have been studying was often driven by a few great men known as industrialists. There can be no mistaking their motives: wealth. There is some debate, however, on the how history should portray these industrialists.

Some feel that the powerful industrialists of the gilded age should be referred to as "robber barons." This view accentuates the negative. It portrays men like Vanderbilt and Rockefeller and Ford and cruel and ruthless businessmen who would stop at nothing to achieve great wealth. These "robber barons" were accused of exploiting workers and forcing horrible working conditions and unfair labor practices upon the laborer.

Another view of the industrialist is that of "captain of industry." The term captain views these men as viewed ingenious and industrious leaders who transformed the American economy with their business skills. They were praised for their skills as well as for their philanthropy (charity).

In reality the debate over robber barons and captains of industry mirrors views of industrialism itself. Just as their were both positives and negatives to industrialism there were positives and negatives to the leaders of industrialism.


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Robber Barons Or Captains Of Industry Dbq

While ruthless capitalists all played a critical role in America's rise as a super power, the actions they had taken to do so were not only corrupted and greedy but also easily avoided. Through the use of lower wages, union exterminations, and channeling money towards buildings rather than people, robber barons abused their positions. Today's views of fairness prove that these employers were exactly that-thieves and exploiters.

Industrialists of the time period abused their positions to justify cutting wages through political machines, forcing their employees into twelve hour work days, and firing bottom line workers, in the belief that this was vital for the growth of the United States. They believed that without lowering the wages of their employees, products like steel would not be affordable. However, lowering wages was never an essential measure to make steel affordable; this was all a plot to squeeze any possible revenue from the business. In Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science by E. Lavasseur [Doc F], Lavasseur introduced a weaver in England who said that "he had worked seventeen years in England, and that conditions were much better than in America." If England had treated its workers as well as this weaver suggested and remained an industrial giant, America could have followed in its footsteps and achieved the same prosperity through better means.

In his 1889 essay "The Gospel of Wealth", Andrew Carnegie [Doc C] states that it is up to the rich to bring to the poor their "superior wisdom, experience, and ability to administer."...

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