Andrew Carnegie: Robber Baron or Captain of Industry?

             In the late nineteenth century, a captain of industry was a business leader whose means of amassing a personal fortune contributed positively to the country in some way. This may have been through increased productivity, expansion of markets, providing more jobs, or acts of philanthropy. Some of the nineteenth-century industrialists who were called "captains of industry" are also considered to be "robber barons." In the nineteenth century, a robber baron was an American capitalist who acquired a fortune by ruthless means. Robber barons were accused of eliminating competition through predatory pricing and then overcharging when they had a monopoly. Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish-American industrialist who led the enormous expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century. By 1888, Andrew Carnegie had a large steel plant, which provided many jobs for Americans around Pittsburgh. Carnegie was one of the wealthiest and well known industrialists of his day. Many people have argued whether Carnegie was a "captain of industry" or a "robber baron" based on the jobs he provided and the way he treated his workers. One man states that Carnegie's insatiable drive for more and more wealth, without limit was tied to his conviction that it was his duty to give it all away by the time of his death.1
             Carnegie was born into a poor family, so he did not want other children to go without education. Carnegie believed that to die rich was a waste, so he wanted to give all the money he had earned to others. Before his death, Carnegie gave $60 million to fund a system of 1,689 public libraries across the country. Carnegie gave many American's jobs, but he had hard working conditions at his steel mills. Although the conditions were bad, some still believed his almost furious philanthropy redeemed whatever he may have done to gain his power.2 The business standards one hundred to one hundred and fifty years ago are not what they are today,...

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Andrew Carnegie: Robber Baron or Captain of Industry?. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 23:26, June 17, 2018, from