Andrew Carnegie and Henry Ford are considered among the handful of capitalists who played a defining role in building America. The early 20th century skyscrapers in the US stood on Carnegie’s steel and Ford revolutionized the automobile industry with his low-cost cars.
Carnegie became the richest man in America when he retired and sold his company to JP Morgan for a sum that was equivalent to $400 billion in today’s money. Sadly, Andrew’s billions were amassed at the cost of factory workers’ sweat and blood. Literally.
The working conditions in steel mills in the late 19th century and early 20th century were inhumane and unsafe. Some estimate that the rate of serious accidents (often leading to death) was as high as 10 percent. Twelve to fourteen hours a day and six to seven days a week was standard at that time. There was no extra pay for overtime. Not only that, the hourly wages were squeezed so the hilt to drive profitability. And any resistance from labour unions was often crushed ruthlessly with the help of private armies like Pinkertons. (Trivia: at one time Pinkertons had more armed personnel in their squad than the entire US national army.)
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