Quotes from the Robber Barons

"LABOR IS THE CREATOR OF CAPITAL, And capital is in the nature of a stored up force. It is like the balance wheel of an engine, which has no motion that has not been imparted to it, but is a reservoir of force which will perpetuate the motion of the machinery after the propelling power has ceased. A man takes a few thousand dollars of capital, builds a workshop, buys raw material advantageously, and engages a hundred workmen to manufacture boots and shoes. This is the foundation of enterprise. The employer of labor is a benefactor. The great majority of mankind do not originate employments for themselves. They either have not the disposition, or the ability to so originate and direct their own employment."

Senator Leland Stanford
New York Tribune
May 4, 1887
Library Topic

"Capital directed by intelligent enterprise is a vast benefactor to man. The man who through others makes to grow two blades of grass where but one grew before is a benefactor to mankind in the largest sense; but suppose that each of the one hundred workmen employed produce in excess of his wages the value of one dollar a day. One dollar a day for each aggregated gives one hundred dollars per day to the employer. The profit to the employer then is one hundred dollars per day. In the aggregate the one hundred men employed, by associating their effort and their credit, and possibly their capital, could command a sufficiency of that reserve force which we call capital to build the shop and purchase the material with which to start business. If they do not possess the capital in the aggregate, I am fully persuaded that one hundred INDUSTRIOUS, SOBER, Skillful mechanics, agreeing to combine their labor, industry and intelligence, would possess sufficient credit to command the capital necessary to lay the foundation of enterprise."

Senator Leland Stanford
New York Tribune
May 4, 1887
Library Topic

"To-day the world obtains commodities of excellent quality at prices which even the generation preceding this would have deemed incredible. In the commercial world similar causes have produced similar results, and the race is benefited thereby. The poor enjoy what the rich could not before afford. What were the luxuries have become the necessaries of life. The laborer has now more comforts than the landlord had a few generations ago. The farmer has more luxuries than the landlord had, and is more richly clad and better housed. The landlord has books and pictures rarer, and appointments more artistic, than the King could then obtain."

Andrew Carnegie
The North American Review, No. CCCXCI
June 1889
Library Topic

"We start, then, with a condition of affairs under which the best interests of the race are promoted, but which inevitably gives wealth to the few. Thus far, accepting conditions as they exist, the situation can be surveyed and pronounced good. The question then arises, --and, if the foregoing be correct, it is the only question with which we have to deal, --What is the proper mode of administering wealth after the laws upon which civilization is founded have thrown it into the hands of the few? And it is of this great question that I believe I offer the true solution. It will be understood that fortunes are here spoken of, not moderate sums saved by many years of effort, the returns on which are required for the comfortable maintenance and education of families. This is not wealth, but only competence which it should be the aim of all to acquire."

Andrew Carnegie
The North American Review, No. CCCXCI
June 1889
Library Topic

"When we consider what has been accomplished by the railway companies in the past thirty years, the singularly low rate of transportation which prevails, the average cost being not to exceed one-third of what it was thirty years ago, the reduction of freight classifications from fifty or more to three, the increase by thousands of through routes and rates, the improvement of facilities for transportation in roadway, equipment and terminals, has not the country abundant reason to congratulate itself on what has been accomplished?

And I will say further that all this has been brought about by the railway companies in their efforts to serve the public and help themselves rather than by any legislative or other interference. The railways of the country are subject to the Interstate Commerce law. It is said that carriers do not observe the law; that rates are unreasonable; that the public are oppressed. ...

To remedy the evils, growing, as is claimed, out of the violation of the law, government ownership is suggested by some, and an increase of the power of the Interstate Commerce Commission by others. Government ownership means the control and operation of railways by government officials. A mere statement of the proposition arouses in the mind of almost every thoughtful man the fear that such power would end in the destruction of the government itself.

Aside from all economic questions and the increased cost to the public, either in direct advance of rates or indirect cost of increased taxation, it would mean the political appointment of an additional million of public officials and the exercise of a power sufficient to imperil, if not to destroy, free government in the United States."

James Jerome Hill
1902
Library Topic

"If business is to find such terms as will bring back prosperity, the universal waste by public authorities and the tendency of many corporate bodies to make both ends meet by borrowing instead of saving must come to a speedy end.

Our progress toward a centralized paternalism is so marked and has gone so far that the middle-of-the-road Socialist has little reason to complain that his party has not already secured a majority. Under laws passed at the last session of congress, most corporate business in the United States is under direct federal control. Every year sees the transaction of business made more expensive by laws prescribing multiplied and costly reports, ordering expensive improvements or additional services, laying new taxes, compelling the engagement of additional employes [sic] and the raising of the compensation of the old. This is the history of paternalism, of centralization, since ever the words or the things were known to the world. That governing method has always been the most wasteful of all, no matter whether it hid itself under the title of monarchy, aristocracy or democracy. Under the tribute it attempts to levy, business in the United States would eventually become unable to conform to the onerous conditions of the new era."

James Jerome Hill
1902
Library Topic
Library Topic: Socialism
Library Topic: Regulations in America

"The principal complaint against our industrial conditions of to-day is that they cause great wealth to flow into the hands of the few. Well, of the very few, indeed, is this true. It was formerly so, as I have explained, immediately after the new inventions had changed the conditions of the world. To-day it is not true. Wealth is being more and more distributed among the many. The amount of the combined profits of labour and capital which goes to labour was never so great as to-day, the amount going to capital never so small. ...

You may be sure, gentlemen, that the question of the distribution of wealth is settling itself rapidly under present conditions, and settling itself in the right direction. The few rich are getting poorer, and the toiling masses are getting richer. Nevertheless, a few exceptional men may yet make fortunes, but these will be more moderate than in the past. This may not be quite as fortunate for the masses of the people as is now believed, because great accumulations of wealth in the hands of one enterprising man who still toils on are sometimes most productive of all the forms of wealth. Take the richest man the world ever saw, who died in New York some years ago. What was found in his case? That, with the exception of a small percentage used for daily expenses, his entire fortune and all its surplus earnings were invested in enterprises which developed the railway system of our country, which gives to the people the cheapest transportation known. Whether the millionaire wishes it or not, he cannot evade the law which under present conditions, compels him to use his millions for the good of the people. All that he gets during the few years of his life is that he may live in a finer house, surround himself with finer furniture, and works of art which may be added…. But truly the modern millionaire is generally a man of very simple tastes and even miserly habits. He spends little upon himself, and is the toiling bee laying up the honey in the industrial hive, which all the inmates of that hive, the community in general, will certainly enjoy."

Andrew Carnegie
Doubleday, Page & Company
1902
Library Topic

"I am sure it is a mistake to assume that the possession of money in great abundance necessarily brings happiness. The very rich are just like all the rest of us; and if they get pleasure from the possession of money, it comes from their ability to do things which give satisfaction to someone besides themselves."

John Davison Rockefeller Sr.
Doubleday, Page & Company
1909
Library Topic

"A man of business may often most properly consider that he does his share in building up a property which gives steady work for few or many people; and his contribution consists in giving to his employees good working conditions, new opportunities, and a strong stimulus to good work. Just so long as he has the welfare of his employees in his mind and follows his convictions, no one can help honouring such a man. It would be the narrowest sort of view to take, and I think the meanest, to consider that good works consist chiefly in the outright giving of money. ...

The best philanthropy, the help that does the most good and the least harm, the help that nourishes civilization at its very root, that most widely disseminates health, righteousness, and happiness, is not what is usually called charity. It is, in my judgment, the investment of effort or time or money, carefully considered with relation to the power of employing people at a remunerative wage, to expand and develop the resources at hand, and to give opportunity for progress and healthful labour where it did not exist before. No mere money-giving is comparable to this in its lasting and beneficial results.

If, as I am accustomed to think, this statement is a correct one, how vast indeed is the philanthropic field! It may be urged that the daily vocation of life is one thing, and the work of philanthropy quite another. I have no sympathy with this notion. The man who plans to do all his giving on Sunday is a poor prop for the institutions of the country."

John Davison Rockefeller Sr.
Doubleday, Page & Company
1909
Library Topic

"If I were to give advice to a young man starting out in life, I should say to him: If you aim for a large, broad-gauged success, do not begin your business career, whether you sell your labour or are an independent producer, with the idea of getting from the world by hook or crook all you can. In the choice of your profession or your business employment, let your first thought be: Where can I fit in so that I may be most effective in the work of the world? Where can I lend a hand in a way most effectively to advance the general interests? Enter life in such a spirit, choose your vocation in that way, and you have taken the first step on the highest road to a large success. Investigation will show that the great fortunes which have been made in this country, and the same is probably true of other lands, have come to men who have performed great and far-reaching economic services – men who, with great faith in the future of their country, have done most for the development of its resources. The man will be most successful who confers the greatest service on the world. Commercial enterprises that are needed by the public will pay. Commercial enterprises that are not needed fail, and ought to fail.

On the other hand, the one thing which such a business philosopher would be most careful to avoid in his investments of time and effort or money, is the unnecessary duplication of existing industries. He would regard all money spent in increasing needless competition as wasted, and worse. The man who puts up a second factory when the factory in existence will supply the public demand adequately and cheaply is wasting the national wealth and destroying the national prosperity, taking the bread from the labourer and unnecessarily introducing heartache and misery into the world."

John Davison Rockefeller Sr.
Doubleday, Page & Company
1909
Library Topic

"Just so the wealth of the country, its capital, its credit, must be saved from the predatory poor as well as the predatory rich, but above all from the predatory politician."

James Jerome Hill
Doubleday, Page & Company
1910
Library Topic

"For thirty-six years I have been moving among workingmen in what is now the biggest branch of American industry, the steel business. In that time it has been my good fortune to watch most of the present leaders rise from the ranks, ascend step by step to places of power. These men, I am convinced, are not natural prodigies. They won out by using normal brains to think beyond their manifest daily duty.

American industry is spilling over with men who started life even with the leaders, with brains just as big, with hands quite as capable. And yet one man emerges from the mass, rises sheer above his fellows; and the rest remain.

The men who miss success have two general alibis: ‘I’m not a genius’ is one; the other, ‘There aren’t the opportunities to-day there used to be.’

Neither excuse holds. The first is beside the point; the second is altogether wrong.

The thing that most people call ‘genius’ I do not believe in. That is, I am sure that few successful men are so-called ‘natural geniuses.’”

Charles M. Schwab
Cosimo, Inc.
1916, 2005
Library Topic

"With the open invitation to all men who have wealth to be relieved from taxation by the simple expedient of investing in the more than $12,000,000,000 of tax-exempt securities now available, and which would be unaffected by any Constitutional amendment, the rich need not pay taxes. We violate Adam Smith’s first maxim. Where these high surtaxes do bear, is not on the man who has acquired and holds available wealth, but on the man who, through his own initiative, is making wealth. The idle man is relieved; the producer is penalized. We violate the fourth maxim. We do not reach the people in proportion to their ability to pay and we destroy the initiative which produces the wealth in which the whole country should share, and which is the source of revenue to the Government."

Andrew W. Mellon
The Macmillan Company
1924
Library Topic

"During the war many new taxes, such as Income and Excess Profits Taxes, were developed. There is a limit, however, to the amount of taxes that can be levied without absorbing the profits which should be put back into business for increased production. That limit is measured, not by the total income of the consumer, but by the surplus income which is the excess of net income over consumption. If too much of this surplus is taken in taxes, the margin available for capital investment and for support of educational, religious and philanthropic institutions is perilously reduced. If the sources of capital investment are dried up, the flow of all income may eventually cease. For these reasons the Government must judge with great care the amount of tax to be levied on wealth."

Andrew W. Mellon
The Macmillan Company
1924
Library Topic

"One of the foundations of our American civilization is equality of opportunity, which presupposes the right of each man to enjoy the fruits of his labor after contributing his fair share to the support of the Government, which protects him and his property. But that is a very different matter from confiscating a part of his wealth, not because the country requires it for the prosecution of a war or some other purpose, but because he seems to have more money than he needs. Our civilization, after all, is based on accumulated capital, and that capital is no less vital to our prosperity than is the extraordinary energy which has built up in this country the greatest material civilization the world has ever seen. Any policy that deliberately destroys that accumulated capital under the spur of no necessity is striking directly at the soundness of our financial structure and is full of menace for the future."

Andrew W. Mellon
The Macmillan Company
1924
Library Topic
Library Topic

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Andrew W. Mellon belonged to a remarkable American generation which witnessed the creation and accumulation of individual fortunes in unprecedented abundance by such men as Rockefeller, Ford, Carnegie, Morgan, and Frick.

"There's a big difference between entrepreneurs who make a fortune in the market, and those who do so by gaming the government."

Overwhelming evidence belies Google’s ‘Don’t be evil’ credo and corroborates that Google has become the 21st century’s quintessential robber baron. No 'law abiding company' has this long of a rap sheet.

"Vice President Joe Biden is an affable fellow, which sometimes makes his tendency to exaggerate the truth somewhat amusing. However, Biden’s latest tall tale is as unamusing as it is wrong.

From the New York Daily News:

'Every single great idea that has marked the 21st century, the 20th century and the 19th century has required government vision and government...

James Jerome Hill, builder of the Great Northern railroad, was the only railroad entrepreneur of the nineteenth century who received no federal subsidies to build his railroads.

Senate Republicans blocked President Obama's jobs bill last week, calling it more of the same old stimulus that didn't work, and objecting to a 5.6 percent surcharge on taxpayers that earn more than a million dollars.

When Matthew Josephson wrote The Robber Barons in 1934, he tipped his hand as to his personal prejudice against the capitalists of the late 19th century.

This week we resume the story of the Sherman Antitrust Act and the way it has been applied in United States corporate history, specifically the case of Standard Oil. And when you're talking Standard Oil, you're talking John D. Rockefeller.

Honest, objective historians of the so called 'robber baron' era, such as Gabriel Kolko and Burton Folsom, know that the capitalist bogeyman perspective is simplistic and overwrought.

The judge in the Microsoft antitrust trial, Thomas Penfield Jackson, recently stated that he 'didn’t see a distinction' between Bill Gates’s Microsoft Corporation and John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company.

John D. Rockefeller, like Bill Gates, achieved his economic success by offering the best products for the lowest prices on the free market.

Government as fairy godmother could not, however, subsidize everyone: 'Governmental gifts go to the largest investments'—a survival of the wiliest under laissez-faire slogans. Here were the men called 'Robber Barons' by their critics.

In the ongoing war of ideas in American history, those who advocate government action as an engine of economic development have been encouraged by a general and all-too-human tendency to avoid thinking deeply.

"All the ire at banks and multinational companies by dangerous communists and anti-globalisation hippies is misdirected. They should reserve their venom for the rustic rich-world farmer living the life of Henry David Thoreau."

While tech start-ups are busying themselves inflating the bubble, the Googles and Apples of the industry have bigger ambitions: creating a monopoly.

"Although Barack Obama is the first black president of the United States, he is by no means unique, except for his complexion. He follows in the footsteps of other presidents with a similar vision, the vision at the heart of the Progressive movement that flourished a hundred years ago.

Many of the trends, problems and disasters of our time are a legacy of that era. We can only imagine...

We are now at the mercy of modern Robber Barons, and if history is any judge, it is either them or us.

The Gilded Age expressed Mark Twain’s disillusionment over the decline in his nation from the ... kindly America he remembered from his boyhood to the America of Black Friday, Credit Mobilier, Boss Tweed, Tammany, and the hustle for the fast buck.

This piece comments on the Standard Oil Trust case. According to Epstein, history shows that during Rockefeller's time in the oil industry, prices dropped dramatically, suggesting that Rockefeller's drive and ability to do exceptional business helped rather than hurt the American people.

Can America's schools teach history? The question ought to be ridiculous -- of course they can. What do we pay them for? History is as essential as reading and writing to a republic of free citizens. America's schools have always taught America's history.

It sounds like such an ugly term, 'Robber Baron.' The phrase brings to mind thoughts of abuse and theft. But who and what exactly did these so called Robber Barons rob?

t is worth noting that the term 'robber barons' was first applied to 19th-century captains of industry by Matthew Josephson in his 1934 book of that name.

The AP History view of the 'robber barons' like John D. Rockefeller is that they monopolized entire industries, forced smaller competitors out of business ... and generally did all of this much to the detriment of the American consumers.

Chart or Graph

Look at America's billionaires as they stood at the peak of wealth concentration--and the peak of the relative frequency of billionaires-- in approximately 1900.

Created by G.F. Keller in 1882, this cartoon depicts the octopus-like reach of the railroad industry monopoly.

John D. Rockefeller founded the Standard Oil Company in 1870. He retired from Standard Oil in 1897. Look at what happened to the price of oil during the time he ran the company.

Created by Udo J. Keppler in 1904, this famous cartoon depicts John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company as an octopus wrapping its tentacles around all areas of government.

Analysis Report White Paper

From 1906 to 1911, antitrust authorities prosecuted Standard Oil, a case that culminated with John D. Rockefeller's company being forcibly broken up into several smaller businesses.

This work traces the business enterprises of notorious Robber Baron Jay Gould.

Some years ago I wrote an article for the Business History Review that bore the title 'In Search of Jay Gould.'

Early in 1869, the more sensitive citizens of New York became aware that an insufferable hayseed from Vermont named James Fisk Jr. was exceeding even his previous demonstrations of vulgarity.

Contrary to popular opinion of John D. Rockefeller, this article declares that his chief goal was to provide oil for the poor at a decent price. Folsom goes on to describe Rockefeller's strong work ethic and philanthropic spirit, while also describing his sharp and successful career in the oil business.

College and university administrators have always been scrambling for money, and the papers, pledge books, and office files of John D. Rockefeller document the find-raising efforts of many school administrators in the late nineteenth century.

The businessman is a symbol of American culture the world around, and for many people that symbol was personified by John D. Rockefeller.

"The purpose of this paper is to determine whether the pre-dissolution Standard Oil Company actually used predatory price cutting to achieve or maintain its monopoly."

'Robber Barons': that was what U.S. political and economic commentator Matthew Josephson (1934) called the economic princes of his own day. Today we call them 'billionaires.'

Robber Barons and the pyramid of wealth in the late 19th century.

This paper traces the rise of the Robber Barons in American history. Specifically focusing on Cornelius Vanderbilt, T. J. Stiles describes how Vanderbilt's competitive spirit and enterprising nature led the way in the growth of American corporations.

Carnegie and the other great business leaders of his generation inaugurated a golden age of American philanthropy.

This document contains a variety of classic cartoons relating to the monopolies generated by the Robber Barons in the late 19th century. Many of the cartoons portray these monopolies as invasive and detrimental to society.

This piece describes the growth of the petroleum industry and how the law of supply and demand played a big role in it. It also discusses John D. Rockefeller's role in the oil refining industry.

The most vehement and persistent controversy in business history has been that waged by the critics and defenders of the ‘robber baron’ concept of the American businessman.

Too many generations of Americans have swallowed whole Matthew Josephson's portrait of the great nineteenth-century entrepreneurs as Robber Barons....

This piece briefly describes the lives and habits of two prominent Robber Barons: J. P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller.

The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are often referred to as the time of the 'robber barons.'

"Among the great misconceptions of the free economy is the widely-held belief that 'laissez faire' embodies a natural tendency toward monopoly concentration."

Video/Podcast/Media

Simply put, Vanderbilt helped to shape our modern corporate economy, often ruthlessly.

LeFevre discusses some common arguments against the "Robber Barons" of the 19th century: the idea that these businessmen acquired their wealth at the expense of other people; that they wanted to become monopolists; and that they had poor taste.

Don Boudreaux of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about when market failure can be improved by government intervention.

Thomas E. Woods, Jr. discusses various conceptions about American history, including the idea that the "Robber Barons" were harming Americans.

Burt Folsom spoke to conservative students about the role of government, the free market economy, and the history of business and industrial regulation. He also responded to questions from the audience.

"Mr. Krass talked about the life and legacy of Andrew Carnegie. Mr. Krass is the author of Carnegie, published by John Wiley and Sons."

"Edward Renehan, Jr., talked about his biography Commodore: The Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt, published by Basic Books. In his book he recounts the life of Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877), who built his fortune on the development of transportation systems and became synonymous with American business. His wealth was historic as upon his death his fortune in today's dollars would have...

John Davison Rockefeller, Sr. (July 8, 1839 - May 23, 1937) was an American industrialist and philanthropist. Rockefeller revolutionized the petroleum industry and defined the structure of modern philanthropy.

"Professor Friedman explodes the myth that America's 19th century industrialists exploited the ordinary man."

"Edward Renehan talked about The Dark Genius of Wall Street: The Misunderstood Life of Jay Gould, King of the Robber Barons, published by Basic Books. In the book, he argues that Jay Gould, owner of the Union Pacific railroad company and one of the largest investors of his day, has been portrayed unfairly by the press and in previous books about his life. Mr. Renehan says that Mr. Gould's...

"T.J. Stiles talked about his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt (Knopf, 2009). He was interviewed by Paul Hutton, author of Phil Sheridan and His Army. He also responded to questions from members of the audience."

"America’s experiment with laissez-faire capitalism in the 1800s was a disaster, historians tell us, because businessmen used anticompetitive tactics to form giant, invincible monopolies. The textbook example of these evils of Big Business is John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Trust. In an era before government regulations and antitrust laws, the story goes, Rockefeller wielded market power to...

"Mr. Chernow discussed his biography Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr., published by Random House. Mr. Rockefeller, the world's first billionaire, created the powerful monopoly, Standard Oil, which at one time refined and marketed almost 90 percent of the oil produced in America. Mr. Chernow talked about the life of the industrial tycoon whose life was clouded by controversy and...

Reed explains the many flaws with the prevailing theory that Standard Oil was a monopoly or that the company's founder and president, John Rockefeller, was exploitative....

Primary Document

James J. Hill was a great businessman and amassed the immense fortune typical for an early 20th century robber baron. As the title suggests, this book compiles his many speeches.

This economic classic is noted for providing us with terms for and expositions of such key economic ideas as the division of labor, "invisible hand," self-interest as a beneficial force, and freedom of trade.

"This is neither the time nor the place to characterize or eulogize the maker of ‘this strange eventful history,’ but perhaps it is worth while to recognize that the history really was eventful. And strange. Nothing stranger ever came out of the Arabian Nights than the story of this poor Scotch boy who came to America and step by step, through many trials and triumphs, became the...

This archive from the New York Times gives an interesting glimpse into the philanthropy of Cornelius Vanderbilt.

Senator Stanford explained the objects to be attained by the bill recently introduced by himself in the Senate of the United States, with reference to the formation of co-operative associations, substantially as follows….

Written in 1877, this New York Times article provides a contemporary account of the life of a famous Robber Baron, Cornelius "Commodore" Vanderbilt.

Written in 1902, this letter to the editor of the New York Times describes medieval robber barons and then compares them to the robber barons of the early 20th century.

This archive from the New York Times briefly chronicles the life of Henry Clay Frick. Frick worked closely with Andrew Carnegie and was classified as one of the great Robber Barons.

Gibbons v. Ogden is considered a landmark supreme court case on the issue of the Interstate Commerce Clause. Aaron Ogden was given an exclusive license to operate a shipping business within the State of New York. He sued a man named Thomas Gibbons, who ran a competing shipping business between New Jersey and New York City, claiming that Gibbon's operations in the...

Written at the time of his death, this archive from the New York Times describes Jay Gould's impressive rise from a fourteen-year-old determined to make his own way in life, to a successful businessman amidst the interests of Wall Street.

In this message, President Grover Cleveland addresses the issue of trusts and monopolies often related to the Robber Barons.

Nations, like men, are travelers. Each one of them moves, through history, toward what we call progress and a new life or toward decay and death.

This citizen was J. Pierpont Morgan, who had just organized the most powerful industrial and financial institution the world has ever known.

This piece presents an extensive biography of J. W. Gates at the time of his death. Classified as a Robber Baron, Gates built his success through steel-related initiatives and investments in the stock market.

This archive from the New York Times presents an obituary for Jay Gould, one of the infamous American Robber Barons.

This document provides a selection of letters written between John D. Rockefeller Sr. and John D. Rockefeller Jr.

Autobiography of John D. Rockefeller.

"The Sherman Act authorized the Federal Government to institute proceedings against trusts in order to dissolve them. Any combination 'in the form of trust or otherwise that was in restraint of trade or commerce among the several states, or with foreign nations' was declared illegal. Persons forming such combinations were subject to fines of $5,000 and a year in jail. Individuals and companies...

For many years, John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company dominated much of the oil production in the United States. In the early twentieth century, Standard Oil was taken to court on the allegation that they had violated the Anti-Trust Act of 1890. This Supreme Court decision delineates the outcomes of this lawsuit.

This archive from the New York Times details the politics in the early 1900s involving the Standard Oil company. Apparently an attempt at an "October surprise," John D. Rockefeller announced his support for the Republican candidate, William Taft. Due to the anti-trust issues Teddy Roosevelt had hurled at Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company in the preceding years, Roosevelt's White House...

The problem of the Government is to fix rates which will bring in a maximum amount of revenue to the Treasury and at the same time bear not too heavily on the taxpayer or on business enterprises.

This document provides a look at J. P. Morgan and his business dealings and practices from the eyes of one of his contemporaries.

In this book, Andrew Carnegie, one of the members of the "Robber Baron" class, describes his views on wealth, business, and moral character.

This famous example of early twentieth century "muckraking" was produced by Ida Tarbell in 1904. According to Ms. Tarbell, the Standard Oil Company "was the first in the field, and it has furnished the methods, the charter, and the traditions for its followers." Part two of this volume can be found...

In this book, ‘Masters of Capital’, we have a most remarkable ‘Time and Motion Study’ of Capitalism in action.

Seven men dominate the financial and railroad policies upon three-quarters of the railroad mileage of the United States. Every great highway of commerce lies within the control of one or another of them.

The rise and progress of the Standard Oil Company, from its inception in 1865 till its control, in 1878, of ninety-five per cent. of the oil business of the United States, has presented itself to different critics in somewhat different characters....

Written by Matthew Josephson, this book coined the term "robber baron" and influenced several generations of Americans against the industrial capitalists of the late 19th and early 20th century.

This article offers a look at some of the robber barons through the eyes of their contemporaries.

The old laws, and the old customs which had almost the binding force of law, were once quite sufficient to regulate the accumulation and distribution of wealth.

In this speech, President Teddy Roosevelt addresses several issues related to the Standard Oil Company's monopoly on the American petroleum industry.

"The problem of our age is the proper administration of wealth, so that the ties of brotherhood may still bind together the rich and poor in harmonious relationship. The conditions of human life have not only been changed, but revolutionized, within the past few hundred years. In former days there was little difference between the dwelling, dress, food, and environment of the chief and those...

Along with Ida Tarbell's The History of the Standard Oil Company, Henry Lloyd Demarest's Wealth Against Commonwealth portrayed the oil monopoly in a negative light and influenced Americans against business and enterprise.

In May last the Supreme Court handed down decisions in the suits in equity brought by the United States to enjoin the further maintenance of the Standard Oil Trust and of the American Tobacco Trust, and to secure their dissolution.

This piece from 1859 compares Cornelius Vanderbilt to German robber barons. According to T. J. Stiles, this piece is probably "the first known use of the metaphor in American journalism."

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