As mentioned, it is accurate to allot the title of “robber baron” to the industrial leaders of the time in that they employed various, considerably unethical, methods in order to obtain untold riches. Such a notion is quite evident in William H. Vanderbilt’s own words, that, “[t]he railroads are not run for the benefit of the ‘dear public’-that cry is all nonsense they are built by men who invest their money”. (Document A) Vanderbilt even goes so far as to say something such as, “[t]he public be damned”, so to demonstrate he does not care for the opinion and state of the public, but rather only of his own and of his fellow financiers. Such statements prove that Vanderbilt sought to further his wealth, whether or not ...
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...interpretations of their assumption of millions of dollars. Due to their appropriation of godlike fortunes, and numerous contributions to American society, they simultaneously displayed qualities of both aforementioned labels. Therefore, whether it be Vanderbilt’s greed, Rockefeller’s philanthropy, or Carnegie’s social Darwinist world view, such men were, quite unarguably, concurrently forces of immense good and evil: building up the modern American economy, through monopolistic trusts and exploitative measures, all the while developing unprecedented affluence. Simply, the captains of late 19th century industry were neither wholly “robber barons” or “industrial statesmen”, but rather both, as they proved to be indifferent to their “lesser man” in their quests for profit, while also helping to organize industry and ultimately, greatly improve modern American society.
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