Captain of Industry or Robber Baron
John D. Rockefeller
Dougherty - U.S History
March 5, 2009
John D. Rockefeller
Captain of Industry vs. Robber Baron
The dictionary definition of the term "robber baron" is an industrialist who is perceived to have used questionable business practices or scams in order to become powerful or wealthy. On the other hand, a "captain of industry" is an industrialist who revolutionized industry by expanding markets, making jobs available, promoting human welfare, and being huge public philanthropist. 
John D. Rockefeller was the guiding force behind the creation of the Standard Oil Company, which grew to dominate the oil industry. This company was one of the first big trusts in the United States, thus much controversy and opposition arose regarding business strategies and its organization. John D. Rockefeller was also one of the United States first major philanthropists, establishing numerous important foundations and donating close to $600 million to various charities.
An ongoing debate remains as to whether John D. Rockefeller was a "robber baron" or a "captain of industry" due to Rockefeller being highly criticized for his success and the means by which he attained it.
Sensing the commercial potential of the expanding oil production in western Pennsylvania in the early 1860s, he built his first oil refinery, near Cleveland, in 1863. Within two years it was the largest refinery in the area, and thereafter Rockefeller devoted himself exclusively to the oil business.  Due to Rockefeller's emphasis on economical operations, Standard prospered and began to buy out its competitors until, by 1872; it controlled nearly all the refineries in Cleveland. That fact enabled the company to negotiate with railroads for favored rates on its shipments of oil. It acquired pipelines and terminal facilities, purchased competing refineries in other cities, and vigorously...