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The Robber Barons - The Great American Capitalists 1861-1901 (1934)

The Robber Barons - The Great American Capitalists 1861-1901 (1934)

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Published by t2p22
This 1934 book provides a history of the late 19th century that is missing from school history books. The author worked for a few years in Wall Street and learned about the "Men Who Rule America". Later he wrote a number of biographies for a magazine. These men were no match for the great capitalists who flourished in the late 19th century (the Gilded Age). He decided to write not just about their lives, manners and morals, but how they got their money. Their great wealth was unaffected by any income tax. These barons of industry were "agents of progress" in transforming an agrarian-mercantile society into a mass production economy. Josephson described their most ruthless actions, their plunders and conspiracies, and their lack of ethics. The system they created led to the Great Depression. Since then academic historians created a revisionist history that claimed those entrepreneurs were saviors of the country and not interested in looting and plundering the economy. This "history" is similar to the "truth factories" in George Orwell's "1984" [which is about Britain and the world of 1948]. Their family dynasties have survived, they established trusts that evaded the tax burdens of other wealthy families. [Other writers have pointed out that they sponsored universities to control teachers and thinking, and provide other benefits.] These dynasties seem permanent. The founders were hated by the American people in their lifetime. The farmers of Kansas first applied the name "Robber Barons" to the railroads that oppressed them.
This 1934 book provides a history of the late 19th century that is missing from school history books. The author worked for a few years in Wall Street and learned about the "Men Who Rule America". Later he wrote a number of biographies for a magazine. These men were no match for the great capitalists who flourished in the late 19th century (the Gilded Age). He decided to write not just about their lives, manners and morals, but how they got their money. Their great wealth was unaffected by any income tax. These barons of industry were "agents of progress" in transforming an agrarian-mercantile society into a mass production economy. Josephson described their most ruthless actions, their plunders and conspiracies, and their lack of ethics. The system they created led to the Great Depression. Since then academic historians created a revisionist history that claimed those entrepreneurs were saviors of the country and not interested in looting and plundering the economy. This "history" is similar to the "truth factories" in George Orwell's "1984" [which is about Britain and the world of 1948]. Their family dynasties have survived, they established trusts that evaded the tax burdens of other wealthy families. [Other writers have pointed out that they sponsored universities to control teachers and thinking, and provide other benefits.] These dynasties seem permanent. The founders were hated by the American people in their lifetime. The farmers of Kansas first applied the name "Robber Barons" to the railroads that oppressed them.

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Published by: t2p22 on Jan 28, 2009
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05/10/2014

 
 
Robber Barons
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THERobber Barons
THE GREAT AMERICAN CAPITALISTS1861-1901byMatthew Josephson 
There are never wanting some personsof violent and undertaking natures,who, so they may have power and business, will take it at any cost 
.
FRANCIS BACON
 
HARCOURT, BRACE AND COMPANYNEW YORK, 1934
 
FOREWORD T
HIS
book attempts the history of a small class of men who arose at the time of our CivilWar and suddenly swept into power.The members of this new ruling class were generally, and quite aptly, called “barons,”“kings,” “empire-builders,” or even “emperors.” They were aggressive men, as were thefirst feudal barons ; sometimes they were lawless ; in important crises, nearly all of themtended to act without those established moral principles which fixed more or less theconduct of the common people of the community. At the same time, it has been noted,many of them showed volcanic energy and qualities of courage which, under anothereconomic clime, might have fitted them for immensely useful social constructions, andrendered them glorious rather than hateful to their people. These men were robber baronsas were their medieval counterparts, the dominating figures of an aggressive economic age.In any case, “to draw the American scene as it unfolded between the Civil War and the endof the nineteenth century, without these dominant figures looming in the foreground, is tomake a shadow picture,” as the Beards have written. “To put in the presidents and theleading senators . . . and leave out such prime actors in the drama is to show scant respectfor the substance of life. Why, moreover, should anyone be interested in the beginnings of the House of a Howard or Burleigh and indifferent to the rise of a House of Morgan orRockefeller ?”When the group of men who form the subject of this history arrived upon the scene, theUnited States was a mercantile-agrarian democracy. When they departed or retired fromactive life, it was something else : a unified industrial society, the effective economic,control of which was lodged in the hands of a hierarchy.In short, these men more or less knowingly played the leading rôles in an age of industrialrevolution. Even their quarrels, intrigues and misadventures (too often treated as merelydiverting or picturesque) are part of the mechanism of our history. Under their hands therenovation of our economic life proceeded relentlessly : large-scale production replaced thescattered, decentralized mode of production ; industrial enterprises became moreconcentrated, more “efficient” technically, and essentially “coöperative,” where they hadbeen purely individualistic and lamentably wasteful. But all this revolutionizing effort isbranded with the motive of private gain on the part of the new captains of industry. Toorganize and exploit the resources of a nation upon a gigantic scale, to regiment its farmersand workers into harmonious corps of producers, and to do this only in the name of anuncontrolled appetite for private profit—here surely is the great inherent contradictionwhence so much disaster, outrage and misery has flowed.

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