The Robber Barons

Villian: The Robber Barons circa 1880. The Robber Barons included: John D. Rockerfeller (Standad Oil America), Henry Clay Frick (US Steel corporation), Jay Gould (rail such as: Union Pacific rail and Missouri Pacific Railroad) and JP Morgan (banker) among others. The Robber Barons were men who used new technologies of the time such as the railroads, and global systems of finance to make themselves more rich and therefore powerful. For instance Rockefeller controlled almost all the oil industry in America along with the railroads that transported the oil

Plot: In the late 1800’s the Southern and Pacific Railroad in America bought land for very little. Then sold the land to pioneers who dreamed of being farmers for inflated prices. Over time they charged the farmers more to transport their harvest to the ports- until they faced ruin and had to mortgage their land to the financiers behind the railroads.

The pioneers found themselves trapped. Through the control of new infrastructure (railroads and financial systems) the Robber Barons managed to destroy the dream of freedom for the pioneers. Using the infrastructure of the Pacific and Southern Railroad to systematically entrapping and exploiting them. In 1880 a dispute over land titles between California settlers and the Southern Pacific Railroad erupted leaving seven people dead. This tragic event is referred to as the “The Mussel Slough Tragedy”.

And it wasn’t just the railroads trying to make profits. Beyond them was a new financial system that had realized that by making the farmers their servants in this way they could create a mass-industrialized system of agriculture that could both feed the world and also make a few individuals so rich and powerful that they destroyed democracy.


Large-scale grant map dated 1893,  showing the alternate sections of public  land granted to the Little Rock &  Fort Smith Railway



Missouri Pacific Railroad map circa 1885



Map of Nebraska showing the Union Pacific Railroad Land Grants, 1880



Northern Pacific Railway Homeseekers Excursions circa 1912







Posted: September 22nd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments Off on The Robber Barons

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