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Taking Sides

In: Historical Events

Submitted By laymo28
Words 553
Pages 3
Taking Sides: Were the Nineteenth-Century Big Businessmen “Robber Barons”? In the nineteenth-century, the United States experienced rapid industrial revolution and economic growth. Leading the way throughout the economic growth were big business owners. Scholars have disagreed on whether or not these big businessmen were robber barons. Howard Zinn believes that they were robber barons and that they encouraged monopolies and used government influence and power to further their success. John S. Gordon argues that businessmen such as Rockefeller and Carnegie affected the industry in a positive way that helped improve the lifestyle of average Americans. Howard Zinn supported his view that the nineteenth-century big businessmen were robber barons by explaining how some of the multimillionaires accumulated their fortune. Zinn immediately dispels the myth that these rich men started from poverty, and states that a study showed that 90% of these men were born into middle or upper class families.. Robber barons undercut their opponents forcing them to sell out to the bigger corporation allowing these men to keep their prices high. Zinn focuses a majority of his writing on how these big businessmen used the government to prevent rebellion against robber barons. Gordon explains that the consumer products Rockefeller and Carnegie developed improved the life of average Americans. He speaks a lot on the improved production of steel and the impact on the industry that resulted. Gordon admits that Rockefeller and other big businessmen did act as robber barons by using secret rebates with railroads to gain an advantage over their competitors, but Gordon states this is the only time that robber barons act as robber barons. Gordon’s key example of the average American’s life improving is Andrew Carnegie and his journey from poor young man to great wealth. I believe that Zinn...

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