America’s Antebellum Capitalists: Captains of Industry or Robber Barrons?

America’s Antebellum Capitalists: Captains of Industry or Robber Barrons?

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More often than not, America’s antebellum capitalists are accused of being the “robber barons” of industrial America. The misconception is that these men took advantage of a naïve and growing economy and reaped its benefits without giving anything in return. True, the majority of America was poor in comparison to the few elites, but the philanthropist efforts and contributions of these men can not be denied. If not for these men and their efforts, there would have been no one to pave the road to America’s industrial domination.

Successful capitalists of the late 1800s were referred to as “robber barons” because of the common belief that they were responsible for the farmers’ grievances (doc. D). The weapon of these “robber barons” was the trusts created to gear economical power and dom...

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