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Argumentative Essay

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Robber Barons vs. Captains of Industry
For decades now, scholars have debated extensively on the appropriate titles to label the
unscrupulous businessmen of the 19
th
century. The two majorly used metaphors are Robber
Barons and Captains of Industry. Robber Barons affirms that the individuals used dishonest and
crooked ways to get rich while exerting a profound pressure on the people. On the other hand,
Captains of Industry portrays the businessmen as real heroes whose personal efforts of amassing
wealth led to a positive influence on the American economy. Surprisingly, the world has since
then seen these individuals in the two dimensions, and everyone has to pick a side. Although the
businessmen of the 19
th
century had lucrative business strategies, they used dishonest methods to
get rich while oppressing the American people and they deserve the name Robber Barons.
The railway was an important means of transportation during the era of the Robber
Barons. Supposedly, the resource existed for the benefit of all the people. However, Cornelius
Vanderbilt had another plan in mind. Therefore, the ‘Railroad King used different methods and
tactics to knock off the neighbors who had control over the railway lines. In addition, he
managed to buy out some of the competitors and influenced the stock markets to knock off the
ones who opposed him. These efforts aimed at extending Vanderbilt’s territory by granting him
total control over the railway and thus a control over traders in need of railway services. Indeed,
markets and businesses changed after Vanderbilt gained dominance (Northrup 37). He only

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wanted to build wealth for himself and for his close friends since he granted them various
business favors.
Another Robber Baron is John D. Rockefeller. Initially, Rockefeller had started a
petroleum-refining company with Henry Flagler as his business partner. The two experienced a
booming business, but that was not enough for them. They portrayed an astonishing greed for
wealth and using the skills learned from Cornelius Vanderbilt, they effectively drove away all
their competitors. To gain the monopoly status, Rockefeller and Flagler had to reduce oil prices
to unrealistic levels, forcing their competitors to quit. Other businesses decided to sell their
businesses to the pair and after acquiring complete dominance, the oil prices skyrocketed
(Northrup 42). Apart from that, Rockefeller had to seek an acquaintance with the Railroad King
who would ship oil directly into the country. To maintain the business relationship, Rockefeller
worked closely with Vanderbilt and his son.
Andrew Carnegie, the famous immigrant from Scotland is the third Robber Baron. With
the help of Thomas A. Scot, Carnegie managed to beat all the odds of life and thrive as a rich
man in the 1800s while working in the Pennsylvanian Railroad (Nasaw 20). Thomas Scot also
took part in the fiasco since he would manipulate stock market transactions for the railroad.
Carnegie was an excellent entrepreneur and he ventured in the steel industry. He made several
private partnerships and kept a good eye on his business to ensure that he was the sole
beneficiary. In his book titled The Gospel of Wealth, Carnegie says,
One of the serious obstacles to the improvement of our race is indiscriminate charity. It
were better for mankind that the millions of the rich were thrown into the sea than so
spent as to encourage the slothful, the drunken, the unworthy. Of every thousand dollars
spent in so-called charity to-day, it is probable that nine hundred and fifty dollars is

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Surname 1 Name Instructor Course Date Robber Barons vs. Captains of Industry For decades now, scholars have debated extensively on the appropriate titles to label the unscrupulous businessmen of the 19th century. The two majorly used metaphors are Robber Barons and Captains of Industry. Robber Barons affirms that the individuals used dishonest and crooked ways to get rich while exerting a profound pressure on the people. On the other hand, Captains of Industry portrays the businessmen as real heroes whose personal efforts of amassing wealth led to a positive influence on the American economy. Surprisingly, the world has since then seen these individuals in the two dimensions, and everyone has to pick a side. Although the businessmen of the 19th century had lucrative business strategies, they used dishonest methods to get rich while oppressing the American people and they deserve the name Robber Barons. The railway was an important means of transportation during the era of the Robber Barons. Supposedly, the resource existed for the benefit of all the people. However, Cornelius Vanderbilt had another plan in mind. Therefore, the ‘Railroad King’ used different methods and tactics to knock off the neighbors who had control over the railway lines. In addition, he managed to buy out some of the competitors and influenced the stock markets to knock off the ones who opposed him. These efforts aimed at extending Vanderbilt’s territory by granting him total control over the railw ...
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