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Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller

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With the end of the Civil War, America was ripe for economic expansion. Land, resources, and cheap labor were plentiful. During the latter part of the nineteenth century, industries began to bloom across the United States. Robber barons saw opportunities for mobilizing large capital and for building large businesses. The so-called “robber barons” grabbed those opportunities. Two men who have been called robber barons were Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller. Both started with very little in life, but went on to achieve fortunes. These tycoons built industry empires that impacted American society, not only for allowing economic business growth but also affected our society by giving back through charities and philanthropic work.

At age thirteen, Carnegie went to work as in a cotton mill (Kennedy). He then moved rapidly through a succession of jobs with Western Union and the Pennsylvania Railroad. In 1865, he resigned to establish his own business enterprises and eventually organized the Carnegie Steel Company, which launched the steel industry in Pittsburgh. Andrew Carnegie ultimately made his fortune in steel, changing the industrial world in the process. He introduced the Bessemer steel making process to America. Because Carnegie owned the iron-ore deposits that furnished the raw materials for steelmaking, as well as the ships and railroads that transported these supplies to his mills he was able to run his company with greater efficiency, it was a process called vertical integration. This enabled the company to achieve greater efficiencies than any other manufacturing industry of the time.

By the time of his death in 1919, Andrew Carnegie had given away over $350 million to provide more than 2,500 free public libraries throughout the world. (Powell).

Carnegie Steel Company, he controlled about 25 percent of the American iron and steel production. In 1901 he sold his company to the United States Steel Corp. for $250 million and retired. Carnegie can be seen as a kind person giving millions back into society to promote better educated people. During his lifetime he gave more than $350 million dollars away through scholarships and building libraries. Carnegie Hall was built with a large donation from Andrew Carnegie in 1891 (Powell).

John D. Rockefeller never stood out in school, “instead he a was a slow learner”(Aguilera). This is something you would never consider when you hear his name. But it seems even thought he wasn’t a quick learner he was clever. At a young age he bought candy by the pound, divided it into small portions, and then sold it at a profit to his siblings (Aguilera). The young Rockefeller knew how to invest his money in order to make a profit. Later in his life he applied this idea in other business ventures such as the Standard Oil Company. He owned the drilling where the oil came from, the transportation to the factory where the oil was processed, the factory and the transportation to the gas stations. Because he owned all aspects of the business he cut out the middle man and was able to lower his prices. The process that Rockefeller used was known as horizontal integration.

Outside of conversations at work, church was the only social life Rockefeller allowed himself. At age 19, Rockefeller became a deacon at the Erie Street Baptist Church. Business and religion, the two activities that formed the cornerstone of his personality, were from the beginning the center of his life (Aguilera). John was seen as a pillar of the Baptist Church (Kennedy, 384). One might assume that he was so successful in life because of his hard work ethic and values, “he neither drank, smoked, nor swore” (Kennedy, 365).

Carnegie Steel and Standard Oil are just some of the many corporations that rose in the late 1800’s, and were able to dramatically shape the country politically, socially, and economically and even continues to do so today. Carnegie used vertical integration while Rockefeller used horizontal integration. None the less without them, America would not be the world superpower that it currently is. The shift from and agricultural society into an industrial one. Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller were prime examples of those who had accumulated fortunes due to their investments during the Industrial Revolution, their wealth totaled hundreds of millions of dollars.

With the power that they earned, it can also be said that Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller did a lot of good for the country. Through the use of philanthropies, they both donated a lot of money to charities and other organizations. With some of the money that they gifted libraries and universities were built in communities. With the addition of these libraries and universities, knowledge and the chance to improve the nation’s industry was more readily available. Also, towns that did not have libraries before had access to them now and they had the ability to enjoy leisure time. This allowed many Americans to greater access to improve literacy as well as to become more educated in other areas. All of these things benefited society by enhancing its educational culture. It can also be said that the industrialization of the United States was possible because of major tycoons such as these two ambitious men that both used similar work ethics and philanthropic values.

Works Cited

Aguilera, Kristin. (2001). John D. Rockefeller: A Photographic History : .

Copyright © 2001 – Museum of American Financial History.

Kennedy, David, et. al. (2008) The brief American pageant (7th edition). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Powell ,Kimberly. (2007) Andrew Carnegie: ©2007 About, Inc., A part of The New York Times CompanyCarnegie Corporation of New York (2006).About Carnegie Corporation:

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