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Dbq - United States: A Democracy

Essay by   •  March 16, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,822 Words (8 Pages)  •  1,366 Views

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Since the time of its birth, the United States has been a democracy that was pieced together by the beliefs and ideas of different people. This has resulted in a system in which nothing can be classified black or white and there are many areas of gray. Therefore, it is difficult to label anything as a singular extreme. This is the case for the leaders of the industrial period. While they made unprecedented advancements that greatly helped the public, they also caused many problems that proved to be quite detrimental. While the Industrialists of the late 19th Century were indeed Captains of Industry, they were only able to reach that level by using the power they obtained as Robber Barons.

Industrialists such as Andrew Carnegie and John Rockefeller are seen by many as heroes whose industrial and philanthropic contributions, had, and continue to have, an enormous positive impact on the country. Others perceive them as robbers who ruthlessly destroyed the businesses and lives of many merely for personal profit. There is no one right response to the actions of these men and there is an overwhelming amount of support for each side. Carnegie, founder of the Carnegie Steel Company, was influential in many internal improvements dur

Without the determination and progress induced by John Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie, items that are part of our everyday lives may have taken many more years to be invented if they were ever created at all. Their actions may not have been morally sound, but without them, the country could have been at a standstill for a significantly long time. Their contributions have been upheld, and to this day the effects of their industrial and philanthropic work can still be felt nationwide. Had they not gained the power that they did through their often times controversial actions, they would have never had the strength to move our country in the right direction. It is impossible to argue that they were not Captains of Industry, but it is also impossible to contend that they did so without also being Robber Barons. Ultimately, the two are not mutually exclusive. Instead, it is more effective to look at each title as dependent on the other. Had they not been Robber Barons, they would never have been Captains of Industry and had they not been Captains of Industry, they would never have needed to be Robber Barons. Their actions were strategic in gaining as much control as they could, and once they reached the level they desired, they were then in a position to make many positive contributions that forever changed the status of this country.

The argument, however, doesn't stop there. Carnegie and Rockefeller reached a level of power and wealth never before seen in American history, but they were only able to obtain this through acts that were dishonest and often times, illegal. Among the positive aspects of the industrialists, Rockefeller and Carnegie are remembered for their unwavering ruthlessness. They both demand

Throughout the 19th century, industry as a whole became a major power house of society. Lust for invention and scientific thinking were incorporated into the mindsets of the American population. Sparked from thought and invention -- most notably from Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, the Wright Brothers, and Henry Ford -- industry was vital in influencing social and economic competition. As poverty increased in America -- resulting from rapid immigration and a competitive market economy -- so did wealthy individuals gain monetary stature. While some of those gaining wealth during this time period could be considered "Robber Barons", as they manipulated the law, influenced elections, and misinterpreted the truth in order to make gains, the majority of the new wealthy industrialists were "Captains of Industry". While making a personal fortune, these "Captains of Industry" not only contributed positively to the economy but also set an economic standard and model for the country. Individuals like J.P Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, and John D. Rockefeller amassed fortunes by heading industries. Despite temptations of exploitation and abuse, these individuals steered clear of corruption by involving themselves in charitable entities and giving to those less fortunate. It was these philanthropic and cultural giants who helped build the American culture.

As the owner of the Standard Oil Company, John D. Rockefeller became very wealthy, owning and controlling about 90 percent of the nation's oil business. Unlike robber barons such as George Mortimer Pullman, head of the railroad industry, Rockefeller made his wealth using legal business ways on the open market. By establishing the first U.S. trust in 1882 by persuading the stockholders of the 40 companies associated with his original firm, Standard Oil Company of Ohio, Rockefeller aided in the rapid pace of industrialization in the U.S. after the Civil War. The trust movement, started by Rockefeller, made for the tremendous growth of industry during this time period. With his acquired wealth, he soon defined the structure of modern philanthropy. Starting foundations that had a major effect on medicine, education, and scientific research, Rockefeller gave ten percent of his earnings away, and ultimately totaling $506,816,041.18 by the time of his death in 1937. Founding institutions -- most notably the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research in 1901, the General Education Board in 1902, the Rockefeller Foundation in 1913, and the Laura Spellman Rockefeller Memorial in 1918 -- proved Rockefeller's status as a "Captain of Industry" and refutes any claim that he was a "Robber Barron" throughout the controversial 19th century.

It was no secret that Andrew Carnegie controlled

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