The Capitalists Who Shaped Post-Civil War America

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Accurately established by many historians, the capitalists who shaped post-Civil War industrial America were regarded as corrupt “robber barons”. In a society in which there was a severe imbalance in the dynamics of the economy, these selfish individuals viewed this as an opportunity to advance in their financial status. Thus, they acquired fortunes for themselves while purposely overseeing the struggles of the people around them. Presented in Document A, “as liveried carriage appear; so do barefooted children”, proved to be a true description of life during the 19th century. In hopes of rebuilding America, the capitalists’ hunger for wealth only widened the gap between the rich and poor.

During the 1800’s, business leaders who built their affluence by stealing and bribing public officials to propose laws in their favor were known as “robber barons”. J.P. Morgan, a banker, financed the restructuring of railroads, insurance companies, and banks. In addition, Andrew Carnegie, the steel king, disliked monopolistic trusts. Nonetheless, ruthlessly destroying the businesses and lives of many people merely for personal profit; Carnegie attained a level of dominance and wealth never before seen in American history, but was only able to obtain this through acts that were dishonest and oftentimes, illicit. Document D resentfully emphasizes the alleged capacity of the corrupt industrialists. In the picture illustrated, panic-stricken people pay acknowledgment to the lordly tycoons. Correlating to this political cartoon, in 1900, Carnegie was willing to sell his holdings of his company. During the time Morgan was manufacturing

steel pipe tubing, Carnegie threatened to ruin him by invading his business if Morgan did not buy Carnegie out. E...

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... as farmers became more conscious of prices rising to transport their goods, they were forced to find other means of transportation to distribute their goods.

Even though these men attempted to build a stable foundation for America to grow on, their negative aspects dramatically outweighed the positive. Even though Andrew Carnegie donated his fortunes to charity, he only acquired the money through unjustifiable actions. As these industrialists continued to monopolize companies through illegal actions, plutocracy- government controlled by the wealthy, took control of the Constitution. Sequentially, they used their power to prevent controls by state legislatures. These circumstances effect the way one

characterizes the capitalists who shaped post-Civil War industrial America and it is valid that they would be properly distinguished as corrupt “robber barons”.
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