The poor generally remained poor during the Industrial Revolution, but a few ambitious men made huge fortunes. These men saw the changing times and seized opportunities. They made their businesses as efficient and streamlined as possible. And they used ruthless business practices to drive competitors out of business. Some people saw them as greedy robbers; others thought they were smart businessmen.
Questions and Answers
Question: Were these businessmen good or bad?
Answer: Probably a bit of both, depending on who you ask. They didn’t care about destroying another man’s business, nor did they do much to improve factory conditions for their workers. On the other hand, they gave away a great deal of their fortunes to libraries, concert halls, museums, and hospitals. They believed that they had a responsibility to use their wealth wisely and generously to bless society. Rockefeller’s mother taught him as a child to give money to his church each week. Carnegie also made a habit of giving to those less fortunate, even when he was poor himself. They gave jobs to millions of Americans and created new products. Their inventions and innovations are still used today. They helped Americans believe in the American dream – that hard work could lead to prosperity.
Visit PBS to watch a documentary about the Rockefellers.
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Tobin, Declan. (2020). Tycoons During the American Revolution - History for Kids. American History for Kids. Retrieved from https://www.americanhistoryforkids.com/tycoons-industrial-age/