The period of the late 1800s and early 1900s was a period during one of the biggest leaps in the industrial movement of America. The industrial revolution’s leaders, including Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and more, provided the nation with much needed inventions and transportation, thousands of job opportunities, and one of the biggest waves of philanthropy the nation has ever seen. The industrial revolution was definitely a period dominated by ‘captains of industry.’
‘New and improved’ was the name of the game during the time of the Industrial Revolution. New inventions like Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone in 1876 or Thomas Edison’s more practical light bulb in 1879, improved the lifestyles of many Americans. Other inventions including the Pullman Palace cars, efficient air brakes and most importantly, the Bessemer process, a much easier and more efficient way of refining steel, aided in the rapid development of the railroad industry. Also, the adaptation to new time zones helped people all across the world and in the railroad industry be more on time for things. So, the railroad industry flourished and readily provided America with transportation. These advances along with the creation of many other inventions pushed the nation to become more industrialized, and this shaped the nation to what it is today.
The railroad industry did not only provide the nation with transportation, but it also provided thousands of jobs to laborers and immigrants that entered America between 1870 and 1900. Immigrants, including Chinese, Irish, German, and Scandinavian immigrants, as well as displaced rural workers, flooded urban areas in the hopes of finding employment. The railroad industries captained mainly by Andrew Carnegie and Cornelius Vanderbilt welcomed these immigrants with thousands of job openings.
The railroad industry was not the only industry that provided many jobs for these people. Rockefeller’s oil industry also provided many jobs for the unemployed. As is shown in Document I, the oil industry, as well as the industries of coal and iron ore, had skyrocketed, in terms of production, by the year 1910. None of this would have been possible without the work of many immigrants and laborers. Also, the production of coal and iron ore helped build other inventions for other uses. Everything worked together to benefit the nation in the end.
Although, it can be argued that the immigrants and other workers that worked these jobs were not paid enough, or that they did not lead extravagant lives, many people, including Horatio Algers, believe that one can rise from rags to riches. As he refers to in Document C, if people would study hard and put their mind to something, then they could become successful. This ties into the idea of The Puritan Work Ethic, which is hinted at in Document F. This says that those who work hard towards success will one day rise up and become successful in life, and from there the ‘laws of nature’ will carry itself out. So, it really would be possible for the many workers and immigrants to become successful on their own. Because of the Captains of Industry in the Industrial Revolution, many immigrants and workers found employment.
One might say that these ‘captains of industry’ are just big money-hogging tycoons that are out for all they can steel. However, this was not the case because much of what the owners of these industries made went straight back out into the community. Andrew Carnegie, probably one of the most philanthropic people of his time, provided the nation with numerous libraries, cultural centers and universities. He even continued his philanthropy by encouraging all other wealthy people to do the same. As displayed in Document E, Carnegie published The Gospel of Wealth, which addressed those who have much wealth, to be charitable with their money and administer it to the community. Others quickly adopted his theory. Vanderbilt and Rockefeller especially contributed as well with many new universities.
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. Even the ballets and operas, that people like Carnegie had founded, added to the newly found culture of the nation. The philanthropy of the Captains of Industry greatly influenced and aided the nation as a whole.
If it had not been for the great minds of these Captains of Industry, the nation would have had a higher rate of unemployed Americans, an unfinished and less luxurious transportation system, and fewer cultural centers and libraries. The industrial revolution was with out a doubt a period dominated by Captains of Industry. The Industrial Revolution brought about new jobs, modern inventions and transportation, as well as philanthropy. These captains steered America with great ideas and perseverance, and it has contributed to America’s personality today.
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