People like Andrew Carnegie, Andrew W. Mellon, John D. Rockefeller, and J.P. Morgan take a special place in the American industrialization. They were the first to establish successful businesses and earn a fortune on it. They created an example for beginners who came to America searching for a lush life in a capitalist society. The wealthiest people of the late 19th century, these industrialists remain controversial personalities in the American history. They are sometimes called captains of industry, and sometimes – robber barons. Having used questionable practices, they kept the competition as low as possible, practically creating monopolies.
John D. Rockefeller was born in Richford, New York, and worked as an assistant bookkeeper at first. Both his living and career were very modest, but Rockefeller made some savings and successfully invested them into an oil refinery. By the age of 30, he had established his own oil refining company that controlled 90% of oil supply in the country. Besides being the wealthiest man, Rockefeller was a major philanthropist who had donated more than $500 million to various charities.
Andrew Carnegie was no less controversial in his success. The Scottish immigrant, he worked in the telegraph office in Pittsburgh until his father died and Andrew became the only breadwinner in the family. Carnegie invested everything in building the bridge across Mississippi. His Keystone Bridge Company later replaced wooden bridges with steel ones that were much safer and more durable. Having earned a fortune of $300 billion, he is still considered to be a robber baron. Nevertheless, he supported workers’ rights and attempted to give away his savings at the end of his life.