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The American Industrial Revolution took place in the 1800s and the 1900s. During this time, there were Robber Barons and Captains of the Industry.

Robber Barons typically owned big businesses and gained immense profits by paying employees at an extremely low rate. Robber Barons eliminated competition in the industry by selling their products at low rates and buying out other businesses. Once Robber Barons had control, they raised prices on their products since nothing could be done about it. Also in this time were Captains of the Industry. Captains of the Industry, like Robber Barons, owned big businesses but used their profits to benefit other people and/or their country through donating money, increasing productivity, creating more jobs, or expanding the market.

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A Captain of the Industry during this time was John D. Rockefeller. Certainly, people may consider John D. Rockefeller a Robber Baron since he paid his employees an unreasonably low amount.

Admittedly, paying employees less than they are worth can be a strong argument on why Rockefeller is a Robber Baron, but using fortune to fund many charitable causes is also a strong argument on why Rockefeller should be considered a Captain of the Industry. Rockefeller made billions of dollars and donated $540 million for philanthropic causes. A portion of that money was used to fund the University of Rockefeller Institute and University of Chicago. The rest of it went to other educational purposes, charities, and churches. He felt obligated to put his money to use since he believed God gave him his money, making him a Captain of the Industry. Along with his contributions by donating money, Rockefeller also contributed to the industry by creating jobs and expanding the market. In 1863, Rockefeller entered the business of oil.

He established the Standard Oil company in 1870. By the 1880s, he owned and controlled almost 90% of pipelines and refineries. He expanded the market by owning as much as he did and adding to it. With the Standard Oil Company came many jobs also. Creating jobs and expanding markets are two characteristics of a Captain of the Industry, which Rockefeller was because of these two characteristics.


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