Captains Of Industry Essay

1010 words - 5 pages

American society is constantly evolving and changing, but has been consistently shaped by the American economy. The American dream of “rags to riches” drove production and allowed for the rapid rise of industry under the theory of Social Darwinism. The ideas of vertical integration, horizontal integration, and monopoly led to the expansion of railroads, the use of kerosene from refined oil to light homes, and the American domination of the steel industry. These recently introduced concepts and their repercussions are indebted to the businessmen who sought to manipulate and dominate the industry. Despite beginnings in poverty, determination and innovation led Andrew Carnegie and John D. ...view middle of the document...

Both Carnegie and Rockefeller were not afraid to make changes to their own industries in order to increase productivity levels and profit. After examining the Bessemer steel process on a trip to England, Carnegie returned home to America and developed his own factories to manufacture the steel at a cheaper cost. Carnegie initiated new management techniques to track costs and enforce precise accounting. (txtbk)He also bought out his coal and iron suppliers, as well as the railroad lines( txtbk). By eventually buying out the majority of his competing steel mills through horizontal integration, Carnegie was able to exercise complete control over the steel industry, allowing for the vertical rise of cities through skyscrapers and the widespread use of steel for reinforced bridges, such as the St. Louis bridge (video). Similarly, Rockefeller was disgusted by the wasteful oil process. He hired chemists to reexamine the oil refining process and as a result developed the Standard Oil Company, which used similar tactics to Carnegie to gain complete monopoly over the industry. While this monopoly may seem ruthless, the government made no attempt to control the actions of these men until the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890, and Rockefeller was able to outmaneuver the law and reestablish his company as the government neglected to reinforce the act.
There were many wealthy businessmen of the 19th century, but Carnegie and Rockefeller’s generous donations of wealth set them apart as many of the institutions established by these men live on today. Carnegie used his vast fortune to establish over 3,000 public libraries and institutions of higher learning, including the development of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace the Hague Palace of Peace in the Netherlands. By his death in 1919, he had given away more than $350 million, or approximately 90% of his wealth. Though despite claims of charitable donations as an attempt to soothe a guilty conscience, it is undeniable that Carnegie’s contributions had a positive effect on society. Rockefeller also demonstrated support of...

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