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Robber Barons & Big Business. Corporations & Bankers. Big factories have now replaced small factories = cheaper goods, faster service Railroads distributed these goods across the nation. Corporations & Bankers.

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Robber Barons


Big Business

corporations bankers
Corporations & Bankers

Big factories have now replaced small factories


cheaper goods, faster service

Railroads distributed these goods across the nation

corporations bankers1
Corporations & Bankers

Now that a few large companies were running major industries, they needed capital

  • CAPITAL: money for investment that a company uses to buy raw materials, pay workers & cover shipping/ advertising costs
corporations bankers2
Corporations & Bankers

To raise capital, expanding businesses became corporations

CORPORATION: business owned by investors

  • Sells STOCK: shares in the business to investors, or stockholders
  • This $$ can be used to build a new factory or buy machines
corporations bankers3
Corporations & Bankers

In exchange for investing, stockholders hope to receive DIVIDENDS: shares of a corporation’s profit

corporations bankers4
Corporations & Bankers
  • To protect their investments, stockholders elect a board of directors to run the corporation
  • If the business goes bankrupt, the owner MUST pay all the debts of the business
  • By law, stockholders CAN NOT be held responsible for a corporation’s debts
corporations bankers5
Corporations & Bankers
  • To be so successful, corporations had borrowed tons of $$ from banks, so bankers made huge profits
  • Most powerful banker late 1800s:
    • J.P. Morgan
    • Used banking profits to gain control

of major corporations

corporations bankers6
Corporations & Bankers

During an economic loss in the 1890s, Morgan invested in the stock of troubled corporations

  • As large stockholders, they were on the corporations’ boards
  • By 1898 Morgan controlled most rail lines & steel companies (bought Carnegie)
  • By 1901 he combined all steel

companies into one: U.S. Steel Company

U.S. Steel Company becomes the 1st company in America to be worth over $1 Billion Dollars!

black gold
Black Gold

1859- Discovery of oil. Valuable resource that could act as fuel


J.D. Rockefeller builds oil refinery

  • He knows oil is worthless until it is refined to make kerosene
    • Stoves/lamps

I’ve got to get my hands on some of that black gold!

j d rockefeller
J.D. Rockefeller

Used profits from his refinery to create Standard Oil Co. of Ohio

Grease me up, baby!

j d rockefeller1
J.D. Rockefeller

Hated the idea of competition, thought it was a waste

  • Slashed prices to drive rivals out of business
  • Pressured customers with media
  • Cut a deal with railroads – supply for rebates on shipping

Who has the

Most effective

Advertising today?

j d rockefeller2
J.D. Rockefeller

1882 creates Standard Oil trust

  • Trust: group of corporations run by a single board of directors
    • This created a monopoly of the oil industry

Hey J.D. Thanks for being a billionaire tycoon and inspiring my record label!

cause effect
Cause & Effect
  • Railroad boom spurs business
  • Businesses become corporations
  • Nation has rich supply of natural resources
  • New inventions make business more efficient
  • Steel & Oil become HUGE industries
  • Monopolies & trusts dominate important industries
  • Factory workers face harsh conditions
  • Membership in labor unions grows


  • U.S. is world’s leading economic power
  • U.S. corporations do business around the world
  • Government laws regulate monopolies
free enterprise system
Free enterprise system:

businesses are owned by private citizens who decide what to produce, how much to produce & what prices to charge



Free enterprise system:

*GOOD for entrepreneurs starting out*

**CONTRAVERSIAL for our fat cats**

Many thought leaders of giant corporations were abusing the free enterprise system

Companies compete to win customers by making the best product at the lowest price


against trusts
Against Trusts

1. Trusts/ monopolies reduce competition

  • Without competition there’s no reason for companies to

keep prices low or improve products

2. Hard for new companies to compete with powerful trusts

3. Few Fabulous Wealthy vs. Majority Wretchedly Poor

Political influence & wealth can

sway people in power to buy or

neglect certain companies

sherman antitrust act
Sherman Antitrust Act:

1890- banned formation of trusts and monopolies

  • Too weak to be effective since it spanned the whole nation
    • Some state gov’ts passed laws to regulate, but powerful, $$ corporations side-stepped them
for trusts
For Trusts
  • Too much competition ruins businesses & puts people out of work

Are they really giving back?

Or is Carnegie a rare example?

  • “It will be a great mistake for the community to shoot the millionaires, for they are the bees that make the most honey, and contribute most to the hive even after they have gorged themselves full” – Carnegie
for trusts1
For Trusts

2. Growth of giant corporations brought

  • Lower production costs
  • Lower prices
  • Higher wages

3. Better quality of life for

millions of Americans

    • By1900- Americans enjoy highest

standard of living in the world