a 4 part Mini-Series on the History Channel 10/12 enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4biz 9/13
“The Men Who Built America” is a book & 4-part Mini-Series that air 10-11/12 on the History Channel. It covers the period of time generally referred to as the Industrial Age [late 1860s after the Civil War 1914 WWI] Today’s Entrepreneurs & History Buffs can learn a lot by reading the Book or watching the DVD. Below is a summary.
Episode 1: Vanderbilt & Rockefeller – focuses upon two men & two industries that provided the much of the economic power to start the Industrial Age. It begins at the end of the Civil War, when it looked as though the American experiment with democracy had failed miserably. Out of the ashes of the War Between the States, came a massive increase in industrial strength. The first individual that Episode 1 focuses upon is the “Commodore” Cornelius Vanderbilt. This first captain of industry (or robber baron, depending upon your perspective) started with 1 ship for $100, then build & sold the largest water shipping business to get involved in the railroad industry – which he was as the future of transportation. Vanderbilt became the richest man in America by buying up railroads. At times, he used ruthless means. One notable example involved shutting down the only bridge into New York City when he did not get his way.
Vanderbilt contributed to the rise of the next great industrialist by offering John D. Rockefeller a contract to transport Kerosene on his railroads –which was the only means of lighting at the time. Rockefeller took over other Refineries and was able to eventually corner 90 % of the Oil Refining business in America. When Vanderbilt tried to raise the shipping price, Rockefeller made an agreement with the Commodore’s rival RR – Tom Scott, the mentor of a young Andrew Carnegie.
After this, Rockefeller decided to build a Pipeline to cut out the railroads, so he wouldn’t rely on them any more. Rockefeller then removed his Oil Barrels and caused railroad companies to go broke, leading to one of the worst economic depressions in American history 1873.
Episode 2: Andrew Carnegie
– because of it’s use in Bridges & Buildings – focused his efforts on building a Steel empire. Much of Carnegie’s motivation was vengeance for the death of his mentor, Tom Scott, caused by the collapse of the railroad industry. Carnegie held Rockefeller responsible and wanted to supplant him as the wealthiest man in America.
Carnegie saw that steel would be the next major industry to take off after using it in the construction of a 1st Bridge over the Mississippi River in St. Louis. Carnegie Steel literally built the cities of America – as places like New York & Chicago used steel to erect numerous skyscrapers.
Both Carnegie & Rockefeller bought out competitors, and frequently shut them down. The continual drive for higher profits led Henry Frick, Carnegie’s assistant, to cut wages & increase working hours at the largest Steel factory in USA – Homestead PA.
[ Episode 2 Carnegie continued, Episode 3: Morgan & Edison in Premium Content ]