Robber Barons

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

We’ll have a panel discussion on the robber-barons of yesteryear. We’ll speak with T. J. Stiles, author of the First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt,David Nasaw, author of Andrew Carnegie, and David Cannadine, author of Mellon: An American Life about how these men made, and spent, their fortunes, and at whose expense.


David Cannadine,, David Nasaw and T. J. Stiles

Comments [12]

Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Henry Clay Frick was a robber barron too. He controled 80% of the coal output from Pennsylvania.

If you want to have an INCREDIBLE experience, visit the "Lackawanna Coal Mine" museum in McDade Park, Scranton, Pennsylvania.

You get on a train and ride it into the mine where there is a guided tour. You'll learn of the young boys who tended mules in UNDERGROUND stables, the mules dragged out carts filled with coal, and the explosions that occurred when electric powered drills were introduced, but the sparks from the drills ignited explosions from the gases that seeped from the rocks.

The "Lackawanna Coal Mine" museum is a must see.

Dec. 22 2009 01:10 PM
David from Manhattan

This segment was an excellent use of radio. I would love to hear more of these lengthy explorations of parallel biography.

Dec. 22 2009 12:55 PM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

These men were delusional sociopaths.

Dec. 22 2009 12:45 PM
Tom from Upper West Side

Frick was one of the very few robber barons who actually knew exactly what works of art he was buying.

Dec. 22 2009 12:42 PM
Eric Singer from Pittsburgh, PA

PITTSBURGH DEPRESSED? This is incorrect and reflects an outdated impression of the city! Pittsburgh is faring better in this economy than most places and is experiencing an ongoing renaissance. It is a mecca for "eds, meds and arts" - that is, higher education, medical research, an influx of artists who can afford to work here and numerous world-class museums.

Dec. 22 2009 12:35 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Didn't the "greater good" justification of exploiting workers culminate in the shooting of strikers at John D. Rockefeller's coal mine in Ludlow, Colorado? (I'm guessing the "greater good" Rockefeller was most concerned with was his own, though.)

Dec. 22 2009 12:34 PM
Hugh Sansom from Brooklyn NY

In 1934 the McCormack-Dickstein Congressional committee was established to investigate charges by General Smedley Butler regarding a plot to overthrow FDR. Mellon, Pew, Rockefeller and a number of others among the wealthiest families in the US (and the world) were implicated. FDR refused to publicize or punish any involved in the plot.

George W. Bush's grandfather, Prescott Bush, was among the plotters.

How far beyond cocktail ramblings any real plot advanced is still debated.

Dec. 22 2009 12:32 PM
kai from NJ-NYC

Growing up in and around Pittsburgh, the Carnegie and Mellon names are everywhere. It is so interesting as one of the many thousands of people over the years who are part of the Pittsburgh (and W. PA) diaspoara that has come about because of deindustrialization, that I recognize what Carnegie-Mellon economy is long gone.

Allegheny County (Pittsburgh's home county) has the second oldest population in the nation which is a further push factor from the old industrial heartland.

Dec. 22 2009 12:29 PM
antonio from park slope

Would it be fair to say that one of these robber barons sold out regional transportation (trollies, streetcars, regional rail etc.) just for the sake of making more money?

Isn't the current state of the USA being a auto centric country due to the auto/oil barons sezing all the RailRoad infrastructure?

Dec. 22 2009 12:29 PM
Jeffrey from upper west side

What hypocrisy, to sacrifice their own workers and rationalize it as for the common good. It was first and foremost for their own good. And cheaper steel helped other rich people get richer at the expense of their laborers. It reflects the selfishness at the heart of big-business capitalism today.

Dec. 22 2009 12:27 PM
Hugh Sansom from Brooklyn NY

Hearing that these three thought so highly of their work reminds me of Lloyd Blankfein recently asserting that Goldman Sachs is "doing God's work."

Dec. 22 2009 12:19 PM
Hugh from Brooklyn

Why isn't Rockefeller included among these? Did he precede them?

Dec. 22 2009 12:13 PM

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