The Robber Barons

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The Robber Barons

It is historian Matthew Josephson's thesis that, Rockefeller for many reasons appeals as the greatest of American industrialists and was no less than a robber baron as shown by his ruthlessness in tactics, exploitation of small companies and competition, and efficiency in creating profit. The robber barons were ruthless people who only cared for money.

In trying to exploit competition, Rockefeller didn't confiscate his opponents totally. In interests of his great consolidation he measured the value of their properties without sentiment and gave his own terms. For example, a plant which had cost $40,000 might be worth little more than $15,000 for Rockefeller and this was such an offer he would only make. The victim, as the case might be, would surrender if timid, or attempt resistance in trade, or practice blackmail upon him, or fight him to the finish. He menaced his enemies and threatened to open competing groceries and markets to sell merchandise at lower prices.

Where unexpectedly stout resistance from competing marketing agencies was met, Rockefeller's the "Standard Oil Company" would simply apply harsher weapons. To cut off the supplies of the rebel dealer, the secret aid of the railroads and the espionage of their freight agents would be invoked. The process of "Turning the Screw" is described by an example of a merchant, who refused to come to terms and buy from the Standard Oil. He first found out that all his shipments were reported secretly to the enemy, and then by a coincidence his freight rates on shipments of all kinds were raised even doubled.

Where the company couldn't carry on its expansion y peaceful means, it was ready with violence; its faithful servants knew even how to apply the modern weapon of dynamite. In Buffalo, the Vacuum Oil Company tried...