Robber Barons

Lavish Lifestyles

In the midst of the extreme inequality that the Robber Barons created, the Robber Barons continued to enjoy their lavish lifestyles. They began to compete with one another in trying to “…outdo one another with their lavish spending and possessions”(Kiger). In entertaining guests, the Vanderbilt had a mansion built with various amenities: “…a bowling alley, an indoor pool, and a library with 10,000 volumes, gardens designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, and special smoking and gun rooms. They also could warm themselves at one of the mansion’s 65 fireplaces”(Kiger). The Robber Barons did everything to enjoy what they had and did little to nothing to help the working class until Federal Power had to step in.

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Living Standards

Due to the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer and the endless corruption, we see a record low of life and growth expectancies. In the 1880s, “the average American-born white boy of 10 could expect to live to age 48 and grow to 5 feet 5 inches, considerably less than his Revolutionary-era great-grandfathers. And the figures were worse for blacks” (Wilentz). This was because their surroundings were populated with endless garbage, whether it be human waste or animal waste, which led to contamination and the perfect place for disease to breed. Politicians turned a blind eye to this as it didn’t affect them directly and continued to butter up to the wealthy.

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John D. Rockefeller

John D. Rockefeller was one of the major Robber Barons and the one who controlled the Oil Industry in the US. In his journey to become the Robber Baron of the Oil Industry, he used underhanded tactics to bring him victory. An example was working ” with the railroads to prevent other people getting oil to manufacture, or if they got it, he worked with the railroads to prevent the shipment of the product. If it reached a dealer, he did his utmost to bully or wheedle him to countermand his order” (“Standard Oil: Tarbell, Rockefeller, U.S. Supreme Court”). And if this failed, Mr. Rockefeller would undersell his oil until the competitors were forced to buy from him. Because of this practice, dealers were afraid to get their oil out, as Mr. Rockerfeller also had influence over the railroad industry. This put a lot of people out of work and heightened the worth of Mr. Rockerfeller.

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