"There's a big difference between entrepreneurs who make a fortune in the market, and those who do so by gaming the government."
The Robber Barons: The Great American Capitalists 1861-1901
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 book attempts the history of a small class of men who arose at the time of our Civil War 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 the first feudal barons; sometimes they were lawless; in important crises, nearly all of them tended to act without those established moral principles which fixed more or less the conduct 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 another economic clime, might have fitted them for immensely useful social constructions, and rendered them glorious rather than hateful to their people. These men were robber barons as 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 end of the nineteenth century, without these dominant figures looming in the foreground, is to make a shadow picture,' as the Beards have written. 'To put in the presidents and the leading senators . . . and leave out such prime actors in the drama is to show scant respect for 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 or Rockefeller?'"
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