Titans to ensure efficiency and success within

Titans of Industry.         “The so-called robber barons were neither robbers nor barons. They didn’t rob. Instead, they got their money the old-fashioned way: they earned it. Nor were they barons. The word “baron” is a title of nobility, one typically granted by a king or established by force. But Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, and many of the others referred to as robber barons started their businesses from scratch and were granted no special privileges.” Throughout the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, numerous industry leaders of America emerged, turning a rather troublesome American financial system into one of great productiveness. A few of the most important of these leaders were J.P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller. Morgan, was known for his creation of the U.S. Steel company in 1901 by merging Carnegie Steel Company with several other pre existing companies, this consolidation resulted in a world-stunning company that was capitalized at $1.4 billion. Carnegie, was most commonly known for Carnegie Steel Company, which forever changed the game of steel production in the United States. Rockefeller, was well known for his instrumental role in the formation of the Standard Oil Company, by the 1880’s his company held control of nearly 90% of all oil refineries and pipelines in the United States.  These men were coined terms such as robbers and barons for their ruthless business tactics but also captains or titans of industry for their contributions to the development of America, not only as an economy but also as a society. The work of each of these three men set the bar for American business practice. Although the Industrial Revolution is what provided these men a platform for success, they, in turn, helped to develop a form of industrialism that is practiced modernly. The positive effect that Morgan, Carnegie and Rockefeller had on the United States is undeniable. Although a partially truthful argument can be made to label men such as J.P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller “robber barons”, the term “titans of industry” is more of an accurate description due to their establishment of efficient business procedures, positive contributions to America as a whole, and their ability to make use of unskilled labor.          Throughout the entire industrial revolution, Morgan, Carnegie and Rockefeller brought forth countless methods of efficient business management while also inspiring innovation and invention. Rockefeller when contemplating methods to ensure efficiency and success within his company, came to a realization that having control over the cost of crude oil was beyond his reach, but that he could control something of nearly equal importance, and that was transportation. Rockefeller’s company, Standard Oil was the largest oil refinery in America, and Rockefeller used this power to his advantage by withdrawing the biggest rebates from the railroads while also encouraging them not accept rebates from refiners that Standard Oil had planned on taking control of. With the utilization of this method, the refiners in competition with Standard Oil were given only 2 options, they could choose to comply and be taken over by Standard Oil for a fair price, or they could choose not to comply and be driven out of business due to excessive costs of transportation. As said by John S. Gordon “None of this, of course, was illegal.” Carnegie, much like Rockefeller, was quick to take advantage of any opportunity that would further the efficiency of his Company. As a heavily invested member of the steel industry, Carnegie understood how invaluable charcoal and coke were to his operation. H.C. Frick Company, owned by Henry Clay Frick held a lot of power in the coke industry during the 1880’s and Carnegie Steel Company was one of his largest clients. In 1881, Carnegie proposed to Frick a merge of the two companies that would help Carnegie immensely. By completing this merge, Carnegie would acquire as much coke as he needs at a very low cost but also gain a valuable partnership with Frick. This tactical merge maximized efficiency and was instrumental to the success of Carnegie Steel Company.             Although the term “robber barons” is not an entirely false description of men such as Morgan, Carnegie and Rockefeller, these men did far more to help America than they did to hurt it. With the hard work of many people, America was able to establish itself as a world power in terms of economy and industry in the late nineteenth century, and the production brought forth specifically by Carnegie Steel Company and Standard Oil played a huge role in this. From 1867 to 1897 the production of steel increased by more than seven-million tons, putting American steel production rates ahead of that of Germany and Britain combined. “Nothing so epitomized the economy of the late nineteenth-century Western world as steel. Its production became the measure of a country’s industrial power and its uses were almost without limit. It’s influence in other sectors of the economy, such as railroads and real estate, was immense.” By the year 1900, Carnegie Steel Company had produced more steel than all of Britain, in a world where steel was of such importance, this was a huge help to the United States. The heightened production of steel also played a large role in improving the United States’ urban landscape. In the 1850’s, a typical building would be built from stone and rarely exceed six stories, while after the 1880’s, buildings comprised of steel became increasingly typical and with that, came a presence of record breaking skyscrapers. Another material that experienced similar increasing production rates in America throughout the nineteenth century, was oil. Starting it’s production in 1859 with a mere 2,000 barrels of oil having been produced, the industry skyrocketed, by the year 1900 a rough 60 million barrels of oil had been produced in America. A popular fear of oil supply drying up prevented many people in the industry from taking big risks, but a firm by the name of Rockefeller, Flagler, and Andrew did not fall into this category. In 1870 when this firm became a corporation by the name of Standard Oil, it held control of a mere 10 percent of the oil refining capacity in America. 10 years later, Standard oil controlled 80 percent of the entire industry. Standard Oil’s expansion was largely talked about through all of the nation, but even larger yet, was the impact that Standard Oil had on all aspects of America.          J.P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller were able to further their contribution to America as well as the success of their respective companies by creating a purpose for immigrant laborers who possessed little to no skill. During the middle years of the nineteenth century, the United States saw an influx of immigrants from countries such as Greece, Italy, Poland, Slovakia and more, who were hoping to escape turmoil as well as religious persecution in Europe. These immigrants rarely spoke more than a few words of English, resulting in a very difficult transition for themselves. Looking for work and often times penniless, large urban areas were the main destination for many of these immigrants. Large business owners of the gilded saw a great opportunity and welcomed these immigrants with open arms. Businesses such as Standard Oil and Carnegie Steel Company were able to create millions of employment opportunities for immigrants, while in many cases, also providing them with more earning capability than what they had in Europe. The captains of industry gave immigrant laborers opportunity, income and purpose, and in doing so, significantly expanded their profit margins,  and in turn, strengthening the economy of the United States.           Despite the negative criticism they often receive for alleged selfishness, Morgan, Carnegie and Rockefeller each completed their fair share of giving back. Morgan, in 1895 saved the United States government by loaning them over $60 million in a time where a central bank was non existent. Upon Rockefeller’s retirement in the 1890’s, he donated more than half of a billion dollars towards causes of education and religion, one of the most memorable of these causes was the creation of the University of Chicago. Carnegie was, perhaps, the most generous of the three, donating upwards of 90 percent of his entire fortune towards the creation of Carnegie-Mellon University, Carnegie Endowment for National Peace and the New York Public Library. Carnegie once said, “The man who dies thus rich dies disgraced.” This quote is a perfect reflection of Carnegie’s concern for others. Furthermore, many critics of Carnegie and Rockefeller would be surprised to know that they epitomize the term “rags to riches”. Carnegie, Born in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland in 1835. Having a very limited amount of official education, Carnegie was truly self made. In 1848, the Carnegie family moved to Pennsylvania where he earned his first job that paid less than two dollars per week. Rockefeller came from a poor family in Cleveland. At a young age, Rockefeller was exposed to the practice of entrepreneurship, when he was selling candies to other children as an attempt to contribute to his family in place of his father who was a conman. Dropping out of school relatively early to attempt to make a living, Rockefeller is a pure embodiment of the term “rags to riches”. The positive influence that J.P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller had on the United States is nearly impossible to argue. Although there is no way of knowing how different modern day America would be had these three titans of industry ceased to exist, the nation’s timeline of development would most certainly be delayed to some extent.

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