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The Gospel of Wealth: The Lives of the Super-Wealthy during the Gilded Age

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Neil Farina

on 9 October 2015

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Transcript of The Gospel of Wealth: The Lives of the Super-Wealthy during the Gilded Age

Newport, Rhode Island
became the center of wealthy society in the summertime
The "Robber Barons" of the 19th Century
After the Civil War, American industry boomed (grew very quickly)
Some business leaders, through hard work, clever strategies, and ruthless competition, became extremely wealthy
Railroads led the way
Steel grew along with railroads
The discovery of oil in Pennsylvania offered a new opportunity for wealth
John D. Rockefeller
Andrew Carnegie
William Vanderbilt
They were ruthless, driven men
who used questionable tactics to
make their businesses successful
A scientist named Darwin had a
theory that only the strong members
of a species survive, making the species stronger
Others thought this applied to
humans too; Social Darwinists thought
the wealthy should be left alone to get stronger
benefiting the whole country
The wealthy in America lived very different
lives than the rest of the country
They owned magnificent, opulent,
expensive homes
The wealthy had lavish, expensive parties
At one New York City mansion, the host invited his guests to bring their horses to his home; the horses and guests were both fed expensive meals.
They formed "trusts" which
controlled many corporations
and gave them monopolies
This is why they were called
Robber Barons; they were rich like
royalty (barons are like princes,) but earned their money
through "questionable" ways of doing
business (did they rob people?)
But, perhaps surprisingly,
they decided to be generous later in life
Andrew Carnegie wrote an article
called the "Gospel of Wealth"

He said the wealthy had
an obligation to society to
share their tremendous
wealth. "Any man who dies rich,
dies disgraced"
All the Robber Barons did the
same. After they made sure their
families would be "comfortable",
they gave away hundreds of millions
of dollars.
They donated their money to
research, hospitals, universities,
and peace-keeping organizations.
some people still didn't trust them;
after all, these men were hated by
many for the ways they had lived
their lives.
This cartoon calls
Andrew Carnegie
a hypocrite, for
being rich, then
criticizing the rich
Rockefeller's company was compared
to a giant greedy octopus
Vanderbilt was shown as a controlling
puppet-master of the railroad business
What do you think of these men?
Write a SIM paragraph answering this
question. Make sure to refer to some of the
documents you've seen today or in class

(nice facial hair)

Meanwhile, workers in coal
mines, factories, and steel mills
lived much different lives than
the wealthy.
Full transcript