Leland Stanford was one of the most prominent businessmen of the late 19th century. He is best known for his involvement in the construction of the First Transcontinental Railroad. But was he a Robber Baron or a Captain of Industry?
There are those who argue that Stanford was a Robber Baron, exploiting workers and taking advantage of government subsidies to enrich himself. Others point to his philanthropic work and argue that he was a Captain of Industry who helped build America into a world power.
So, who is right? There is no simple answer. It is clear that Stanford had both positive and negative impacts on American society. But ultimately, it is up to each individual to decide whether he was a Robber Baron or a Captain of Industry.
Those in power who succeed by exploiting others and lacking moral integrity are called Robber Barons. To apply this label to any given person is difficult because it requires determining their intent and point of view. Leland Stanford and the Big Four of the Central Pacific Railroad give a perfect example of how history can remember people differently depending on who tells their story.
Leland Stanford, an American politician and businessman, was one of the Big Four of the Central Pacific Railroad. The other three members were Collis P. Huntington, Mark Hopkins, and Charles Crocker. Together they built the western portion of the First Transcontinental Railroad. He later served as Governor of California and United States Senator from California.
Some people argue that Leland Stanford was a Robber Baron because he benefited greatly from government subsidies and land grants. The Central Pacific Railroad received $32 million in government subsidies, as well as 10 square miles of land for every mile of track they laid down. Furthermore, they were allowed to import Chinese workers who were paid very low wages. This allowed the Big Four to complete the railroad much faster and for much less money than if they had used union workers.
Others argue that Leland Stanford was a Captain of Industry because he helped to build the western portion of the First Transcontinental Railroad. This railroad connected the East Coast with the West Coast and played a vital role in the development of the United States. It also helped to open up new markets for American businesses and increased trade between the two coasts. Leland Stanford was also a philanthropist and founded Stanford University, which is one of the leading research universities in the world today.
Leland Stanford, Collis Huntington, Mark Hopkins, and Charles Crocker were the main men associated with the Central Pacific Railroad (CPRR or CP). In history they are looked at as both captains of industry who achieved the rags to riches story typical of America, and unethical robber barons who didn’t hesitate to take whatever actions necessary- regardless of cost- human or monetary- to reach their goals.
Robber barons is defined by businessmen who amass great wealth through unfair, monopolistic practices. Robber Baron is a term used to describe powerful 19th-century American businessmen who made their fortunes in ways that many people considered unethical and unscrupulous. The Robber Barons were known for having a negative impact on society, including bribing politicians, buying judges, hiring thugs to intimidate workers and breaking strike agreements.
The first accusation against Leland Stanford and his team was that they bribed government officials in order to get the contract to build the First Transcontinental Railroad. The evidence for this claim comes from the fact that, when the CPRR was trying to get the land grant from Congress, Stanford and his team hired lobbyists and spent a large amount of money on campaign donations. While there is no concrete evidence that they bribed anyone, it is clear that they used their influence and wealth to try to get the contract.
The second accusation is that they engaged in price gouging, which is when a company charges more for a product than what it is worth. The CPRR was accused of this because they charged high rates for shipping goods on the railroad. The reason they were able to do this was because they had a monopoly on the transportation of goods from the East to the West Coast. This made it very difficult for other companies to compete and also caused prices for goods to go up.
The third accusation against the CPRR is that they exploited their workers, which is defined as using them in an unfair or unethical way. The CPRR was accused of this because they paid their workers very low wages, didn’t provide them with good working conditions, and often required them to work long hours. Some of the workers even died due to the conditions they were working in.
Leland Stanford and his team were also accused of corruption, which is the act of engaging in illegal activities for personal gain. The CPRR was accused of this because they used their power and influence to get laws passed that would benefit them financially. For example, they lobbied for a law that would give them free land to build the railroad on. This made it very difficult for other companies to compete with them and also caused prices for goods to go up.
So, were Leland Stanford and his team robber barons or captains of industry? While they did engage in some activities that could be considered unethical, they also helped to build the First Transcontinental Railroad, which was a major accomplishment. It is up for debate whether or not they were truly robber barons or simply businessmen who were willing to do whatever it took to succeed.
Leland Stanford was the son of a family of seven children, before himself. In his early schooling, he was not particularly bright and worked as a farm boy with little commercial activities in Albany. He got involved soon into the gold rush but had minimal success, shifting from mining to business.
This is where he made his fortune, first as a merchant in groceries and supplies and then as a banker in San Francisco. When the Central Pacific Railroad was created, Leland Stanford was one of the four principal investors. The building of the transcontinental railroad was a massive undertaking that cost over $100 million and employed over 10,000 workers. It was during this time that Leland Stanford’s business practices came under scrutiny and he was labeled a “robber baron.” Some of the criticism leveled against him included:
– exploiting Chinese laborers
– paying workers low wages
– using corrupt methods to win government contracts
Leland Stanford defended himself against these charges, saying that he was not responsible for the working conditions of the Chinese laborers and that he was paying workers fair wages for the time period. He also argued that the methods he used to win government contracts were standard business practices and not illegal.
Today, Leland Stanford is remembered as one of the key figures in the building of the transcontinental railroad. While his business practices were sometimes controversial, he was instrumental in connecting the East and West coasts of the United States.