Robber Barons or Industrial Statesmen?

Essay by mollyjeanHigh School, 10th gradeA+, June 2004

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Late nineteenth century industrial leaders have been called "industrial statesmen" for the great economic power they helped America become. They have also been called "robber barons" because they built their great wealth by abusing the system, abusing their employees, and destroying their competitors to satisfy their own needs. These "kings" off industry displayed characteristics of both industrial statesmen and robber barons. It is therefore justified to characterize the industrial leaders of the nineteenth century as both industrial statesmen and robber barons.

Because they used vicious tactics to destroy competition and created monopolies, the industrial leaders of the late nineteenth century are sometimes called robber barons. Enforcing harsh rules, ordering long work hours, and harsh treatment of employees gave them their names as robber barons. They were thought to have greatly abused their power. They knew that the skilled and unskilled workers of the factories had to work in order to survive.

They also knew that they could get off cheap and pay them less because the workers had to work and would work for whatever pay possible. Because of this, the workers had to work long, hard hours. This was true corruption of the workers, as well as greed on the industrial leaders' parts. By paying off the political parties, the industrialists were able to have laws passed that were favorable to their needs, regardless of the hurt it caused the workers. The industrialists, even though they helped America become a great economic power, sacrificed morals, in order to achieve their wealth. That was what established them as robber barons.

From another view, the industrial leaders are sometimes remembered as industrial statesmen. They enhanced and modernized the American capitalist system by making the nation more productive and therefore stronger economically and internationally. With their money, they built factories to...