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The Second Industrial Revolution: The Rise of Big Business and the Robber Barons

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  1. Josephson (254) formulates the robber baron concept in American business history. He describes successful capitalists of the Second Industrial Revolution era as greedy robber barons, who were ready to do whatever it takes to gain profit and beat competitors. Josephson (254) states that in conditions of fierce and almost wild competitions these robber barons emerged as industrial giants. One may continue Josephson’s thought and assume that despite the extortionate ways of doing business, the robber barons were the main contributors to the Industrial Revolution. To go further, the early American capitalists, who are described by Josephson as robber barons, can be founding fathers of American capitalism. Indeed, the Industrial Revolution made the United States one of the economic powers of the world.
  2. Josephson calls some of early American businessmen as robber barons, making an analogy with medieval barons. At this point it is necessary to note that in medieval Europe barons have belonged to the nobility. According to Josephson (315), the robber barons were the small group of people, who made their fortunes during and post-Civil War years. The way they earned the money was morally and legally questionable. However, they were barons, because their fortunes made them the modern nobility. That time they enjoyed the supreme power in the economic order. They were extremely popular and admired by the public (Josephson 315). Moreover, they could afford a lifestyle similar to those maintained by the European nobility.
  3. The history teaches us that every event or phenomenon has both positive and negative sides. It is true that the “robber barons” phenomenon is morally and legally wrong. However, it is doubtful that without them America would emerge as one of the greatest capitalist economy of the world. In a word, I condemn the way the robber barons made their fortunes. At the same time, I acknowledge that they became key contributors to the industrial and technological development of our country. Perhaps, without them we would not be at the place, where we are now – one of the most economically and technologically advanced parts of the world.

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