When you are young and even well into your adult years people will tell you there will always be somebody who is smarter, faster, happier, or better at something than you are. This is true for all periods of time but in the Gilded Age those who were better gained more and more crushing the people below them with unprecedented greed, corruption, and power. The few exploited the many by way of opportunity. Something our nation was built on, yet the avaricious elite used it for evil methods.
In the years that followed Reconstruction many issues came up including whether laissez-faire was the correct system to follow. Because of problems like that remained unsettled for some time industrial leaders began to pop up and create overpowering monopolies. Just like what Walmart is considered today. Monopolies could lower prices to a degree at which smaller businesses could not compete. This would allow them to buy out a smaller company and lower competition. In today’s world we value competition because we know it is what makes prices lower. It is what allows smaller businesses to get into the market and provide new knowledge to the same concepts. It is what allows new companies to gain momentum and have the means to develop new methods. In the gilded age freedom was valued over equality. Those who could rise would rise, crushing those they surpassed.
During the Gilded Age, many industrialists were considered robber barons. They were in fact, because of the monopolies they created, the large amounts they "stole" from the American people, and their selfish attitudes. A few of these industrialists were Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and J.P. Morgan. . It was this morality and their personal business strategies that have lead historian to classify these three men as either robber barons or captains of industry.
These men established large monopolies and bought out all other little businesses. This made it impossible for competition of any kind. Perhaps the most famous of these men and most definitely the richest of them is John D. Rockefeller. Rockefeller joined with smaller companies through trust agreements and mergers. Many people consider Rockefeller a tyrant who suppressed many because of his forcible ways of gaining his monopolies. Rockefeller was fond of buying out small and large competitors. If the competitors refused to sell they often found Rockefeller cutting the prices of his Standard Oil or in the worst cases, their factories mysteriously blowing up. Rockefeller was obsessed with controlling the oil market and used many of undesirable tactics to flush his competitors out of the market. Rockefeller was also a master of the rebate game. He was one of the most dominant controllers of the railroads. He was so good at the rebate that at some times he skillfully commanded the railroad to pay rebates to his standard oil company on the traffic of other competitors. He was...