The Robber Barons, as they were called, were the kings of American Industry and American Society during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Rich beyond the average man’s wildest dreams, these industrialists were often criticized for their philosophies and their ways of making money. Robber Barons can also be viewed as immoral, greedy, and corrupt, and the evidence to support such a view is not difficult to find. Bribery, illegal business practices, and cruelty to workers were not uncommon in this period, and many of the most respected industrialists were also the most feared and hated.
Many people consider Rockefeller a robber of industry because of his forcible ways of gaining his monopolies. Rockefeller was fond of buying out small and large competitors. If the competitors refused to sell they often found Rockefeller cutting the prices of his Standard Oil or in the worst cases, their factories mysteriously blowing up. Rockefeller was obsessed with controlling the oil market and used many of undesirable tactics to flush his competitors out of the market. Rockefeller was also a master of the rebate game. He was one of the most dominant controllers of the railroads. He was so good at the rebate that at some times he skillfully commanded the rail road to pay rebates to his standard oil company on the traffic of other competitors. He was able to do this because his oil traffic was so high that he could make or break a section of a railroad a railroad company by simply not running his oil on their lines. Another one of Rockefellers earlier mentioned but not explained tactics was his horizontally integrated monopoly. Rockefeller used this horizontal monopoly to set prices and force his competitors to merge with him.
He was one of the many millionaires of his time that used bribery and like to aid his quest for wealth. He was also know for exploiting his workers and for over charging customers in his early steam boat days. Hill’s worst two offenses were collusion and tricking bond holders about the real value of their bonds. When buying a railroad hill took the bond holders along it to show them the conditions of the tracks. However, instead of taking them along the whole track he took them only to parts and he made sure that these were the worst parts of the tracks before hand. He also was involved in collusion. Collusion is one of the slier business practices of the time. Hill was guilty of conspiring with his competitors to keep prices artificially high, therefore he was guilty of collusion.
George M. Pullman is best remembered for his contributions to the railroad industry through the invention of his Pullman Cars. The cars sold well and the railroad industry flourished with this new invention. Although the success attached to his name, not many people know the real truth behind this robber baron. His greed for money took him to extreme measures as his workers were seriously mistreated and put under strict restrictions. For instance, every worker had to live in his village (Pullman, IL) and under no circumstances was anyone allowed to leave. The people had to buy from his store, pay him rent, and attend work every day. People who did not abide were heavily penalized by their name being written on black book, which meant that this worker couldn’t get a job in any other industrial field.