Were The Industrial Leaders Of The Early 20th Century Robber Barrons?

2474 words - 10 pages

Many revolutions have classified time periods in history, yet none have been as ruthless as the American industrial revolution. The American nation was switching its interests from its agrarian roots to a more modernized attraction to technology and industry. A group of men stepped forth from the masses to lay claim to the many facets of this changing world. They became leaders of their own fields of business, providing the driving force behind economic and industrial change. The leaders of this revolution formed alliances with one another, so that the manufacturing power lay in the hands of a few wealthy businessmen. Even though some of these "kings" of the market came from meager beginnings, they built up their empires, acquiring more riches than the average man could possibly imagine. They used their enormous amounts of wealth for many causes, few of them honorable. There were numerous times when high-ranking officials in the government were "bought", thus allowing these moguls to take advantage of the nation, while the government turned a blind eye. Their work ethics also lacked moral fiber. Many times smaller businesses, which might one day provide a threat, were run into the ground. As well as hurting the principles of the nation and the American economy, the industrial magnates damaged hope and dreams of the American public. The workers in the companies were shown appalling treatment, receiving little pay and no benefits. Through their fraudulently deceitful dealings, these men stole from the government, the people and the culture of America. The industrial leaders of the late 19th century were true robber barons.The millionaire moguls used their money to influence the political system and swindle the American public. They bought votes for politicians who would support their underhanded dealings and gave money to officials who would "look the other way" when the unethical businessmen broke laws. Bribery and corruption were commonplace in the business organizations:Its characteristic form, pioneered by New York's Tammany Hall, was a web of understandings between party leaders, officeholders, and businessmen willing to cut corners. In return for getting out the vote, the machine received exclusive control of government appointments and programs--the spoils of office. Its placemen returned a fixed percentage of their salaries to the organization, along with a cut of whatever bribes, kickbacks, and the like they could devise. The resulting stream of "boodle" (a lush new vocabulary of corruption was being created, too) then passed down to county and district leaders, ward heelers, and precinct captains. They completed the cycle by distributing the gifts and favors that ensured voter loyalty to the organization on Election Day (Burrows, 3).A series of favors and support provided to the community allowed the large magnates to get away with shortchanging their customers and supplying them with inadequate goods. Those barons of the industry, who...

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