The Capitalists Who Shaped Post Civil War America

862 words - 3 pages

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. Eventually, Morgan agreed to buy out Carnegie for four-hundred million dollars. This confirmed that with great wealth and prosperity came much corruption. As the capitalists continued their corruption, “the wealthy class became wealthier; but the poorer class became more dependant. The gulf between the employed and the employer was growing wider” (Document A). Similarly, many actions performed by these capitalists, contributed to the sorrowful lives of many farmers, who were struggling to survive.
Pursuing this further, the rich soil of the West was becoming poor, and floods contributed to the problem, and, eventually caused erosion. Beginning in the summer of 1887, a series of droughts forced many people to abandon their farms and towns. As circumstances worsened, farmers were beginning to be controlled by corporations and processors. The farmers were at the mercy of many trusts, which, in turn, could control the productivity and raise prices to high levels. Furthermore, during the late 19th century, many farmers considered monopolies, trusts, railroads, and money shortages as evident threats to their lifestyle. The...

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