The Men Who Built America: Remembering The Gilded Age Part 1

Tyler Durden's picture

It is perhaps time to look back at what once was. In Part 1 of the 4 part History Channel series, a new war begins as out of the turmoil of the Civil War, America enters an age of enlightenment that will change the landscape of the country forever. The growth is driven by five insightful men who will change the world forever. John D. Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford and J.P. Morgan rose from obscurity and in the process built modern America. Their names hang on street signs, are etched into buildings and are a part of the fabric of history. These men created the American Dream and were the engine of capitalism as they transformed everything they touched in building the oil, rail, steel, shipping, automobile and finance industries. Their paths crossed repeatedly as they elected presidents, set economic policies and influenced major events of the 50 most formative years this country has ever known. From the Civil War to the Great Depression and World War I, for better or worse, they led the way.


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Stackers's picture

Built America ? More like stole America and destroyed the Representative Republic in the process installing their own fascist oligarchy

true brain's picture

what is this? Propaganda on ZH.

if you're going to paint a true picture of what happend, you have to include backroom dealings, bribes , extortion , murders and the ultimate theft of American liberty, treasure.

Big Slick's picture

If someone like this coke-addled Marxist we know as POTUS ever told Carnegie “You didn’t build that” he’d get his ass kicked to within an inch of his life.

Big Slick's picture

@ Stackers - Yeah, life prior to the late 19th century was really awesome!

(you caught me in a bad mood.  I apologize)

Mr. Magoo's picture

If you watched the series you will find stackers is 100% right on. these guys were complete low life scum

prains's picture

nothing like a little american revisionism to make you want to crack open a Bud and pour it on the floor 

prains's picture

thanks junksters

hit the mark

fourchan's picture

that was a great series, warts and all.

James_Cole's picture


I managed to get 10 mins in, if I want to watch silly nonsense I generally prefer Keeping up with the Kardashians though, I'm a sucker for boobs. Not enough boobs (in the literal sense) onscreen in this one. 

I'm still waiting for the History channel documentary about Jesus delivering the constitution personally to James Madison, I'd love to hear Trump weigh in on what Jesus was thinking at that moment. I'm sure Jack Welch could offer some brilliant insight too. 


new game's picture

watching "The West" series.

some things just don't change

the native indians(can not say americans anymore) are you!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gazooks's picture

Deadwood, there's some real Americana to get all fucking teary-eyed over.

economics9698's picture

JP Morgan does not belong on the list, that would be the pos Rothchild. 

RebelDevil's picture

Greedy scum they were, but aleast they were BAMF, and not pussies as a lot of men always seem to be.

jballz's picture

What the fuck is wrong with you people? Jews, robber barons, presidents, fed chiefs, commies, nigs, soros, Buffett, Goldman, Morgan,

Seems to me you guys want to bitch about anyone who ever been more successful than you.

Is that a syndrome? Anti-narcissism?

One thing it sure makes me grateful you assholes are not in charge. Bunch of little fucking stalins with no balls on the table to have your way.

Cry on, stock market emos. It will all be over soon.

prains's picture


pretty sure anti narcissism isn't a syndrome BUT sure as hell you are

jballz's picture


I am.

I am declaring war on the stock market emos.


This was a great site before all the fucking whiners came here to dump their baggage.


cut yourselves elsewhere, bitchez.





Gazooks's picture

fuckin A, jballzi


no-nuthin pussies bleedin an'a weepin like dyin little girls in Damascus


let's you an me take the day to go kill an blow-up shit

tango's picture

Now THAT'S a site that lots of folks here need.  I've never seen such incredible anger over mundane topics - Spanish politicians taking a bribe, APPLE, CNBC, movies, sports, name it and they're foaming at the mouth.  Keeping that much anger pent up day after day is not healthy.  Take Care 

sadmamapatriot's picture

You know, you're right. ZHers have so much righteous hate for so many things but what do they love? Gold, guns, tits and ass, and maybe Ron Paul. Uh, I think we need to find a little more than that to be positive about in life. Is this all there is? I think not.


newengland's picture

Soon over for your sort, entitlement queen. Long live the Republic.

GMadScientist's picture

Fuckin putz hasn't moved more than one county over since his criminal ancestors came over on the Mayflower, but now he's all about "The Republic".

Where the fuck have you been for the last 40 years then? Just biding your time?

max2205's picture

It was grim for the 99 %  but it was a great series

csmith's picture

Sums up the entire history of man pretty well.

Some people DO. Some people DON'T. Some people just pick nits. End of story.

tango's picture

jballz -I've said that a 1000 times. Blaming others is something we all do but most folks eventually realize it's juvenile. Hatred for others is an element of crises, No one escapes their wrath except Ron Paul and they will eventually turn on him as they did his son.  Rigid Ideological purity is impossible.   It's formulaic -Tyler tries historical perspective and gets the same dreary diatribes that never changes regardless of subject (along with a Youtube URL as "proof"). 

They denounce CNBC, Bloomberg, JPM, Goldman, etc not realizing that the Tylers follow these guys religiously. I fully expected the frenzy to these men who gave us a world that alllows folks in boxers to bitch about things they can't comprehend. This could be an intellectual powerhouse site but instead it's becoming known as a hangout for kooks. For all the chatter there is an utter absence of ideas.  Nothing but "hang 'em all", "buy gold", "grow your crops" or "don't iinvest, watch tv, movies, sports".  It's as if they're terrified of happiness.  They may very well survive our coming financial Armageddon but who would want them as neighbors?  LOL

Ljoot's picture

Neighbors? I can't stand them either!


eclectic syncretist's picture

These men, like all men, were products of their time and place in history, along of course with contributions from their own unique genetic predispositions and other environmental factors.  It's rather sad and inappropriate to have JPMorgan on this list since he never built anything but cavernous debt as a moneychanger.

In all, we have been better served by men like Vanderbilt and Rockefeller than Bernanke (man of the year??? WTF?!), Greenspan (Maestro???? WTF?!), Obama (Nobel Peace Prize???!  WTF?!), Joe Kennedy ect.   The list goes on and on.  At least the men in this series (other than Morgan) produced something of value that they left behind them after they were gone.  They did at least do that service to the country, despite their many obvious personal shortcomings. 

tango's picture

I went to Vanderbilt and a little known fact: The Vanderbilts (then) matched the gifts of private donors which is why Vandy was always near the top.  We forget the great public sites these men funded and yes, they were ruthless (the show is pretty clear on that) but they were also visionaries who enabled our future.  JPM saved America with his own money once so he gets a slight reprieve (LOL).   I've always said that the incredible progress during this time would have been impossible under any other form of government.  By the end of the show one can see the rising influence of the State on daily affairs, a trend that has never stopped. 

dtwn's picture

You forgot Rothschilds in your list of ZHedgies fav things to blame.  Idiots.

Sizzurp's picture

Carnegie owed his fortune to sheer ruthlessness, if not blatant fraud.  When Duquesne Steel invented a new less expensive way to produce rail by rolling method, Carnegie floated a letter to all the railroad companies that Duquesne Steel lacked "homogeneity".  Carnegie had no clue what that meant, nor any basis for the claim, but the deceit worked, and Duquesne was forced to sell the company to Carnegie for a song.  Carnegie then incorporated the rolling method for producing rails into all his manufacturing, and all concerns about homogeneity disappeared.  Carnegie made a fortune.  Some people refuse to lose, he was one of them.  I don't begrudge people for getting rich, as long as they are bringing a needed product to market, and do so without the helping hand of government cronyism.  

israhole's picture

Henry Ford warned America when he wrote "The International Jew".  One can buy it at Amazon, and damned if he wasn't right about everything. Make sure to get the one written by the man himself:



James_Cole's picture

It's public domain and can be found widely online. An interesting historical document - mein kampf for Americans - it is also a good reminder that American business leaders to a surprising degree supported Hitler. 

"The International Jew" is an endless rant from a racist madman and I'm guessing isn't covered in History Channels series linked above, so if you must indulge, here you go:

dark pools of soros's picture

Because only Nazis have ever had a problem with Jews

All Hail Shylock!

lewy14's picture

Any concentration of government power sufficient to guarantee "fairness" is also sufficient to screw everyone.

Which it inevitably will, once that concetration of power has been established.

So live with unfairness. It's the lesser evil.

(And yes, I've been on the receiving end of being cheated and threatened in business. Would rather live with those outcomes than having big brother wander over to re-arrange the piles, because inevitably big brother will arrange for his pile to be bigger.)

Omen IV's picture

JP Morgan created a similiar repression of certain Tesla electric systems inventions which would have cut the demand for copper substantially - at the time Morgan controlled Utah Copper among other mining interests which had the majority of copper production in the 1890's

ACP's picture

There's always a level of backroom bullshit. No country/society is immune. But without total government control, people have the chance to stake their own claim.

You come up with a good idea, you pimp it and get investors and make money by paying employees to do the work. That's Capitalism.

If that's so bad, what's the alternative? Name a system, in all of recorded history, that allowed a person born outside of nobility to build a business empire?


Bueller? Anyone? Bueller?


Edit: You've gotta ask yourself just one question......are you better off now, with limited options, or when government was so small it didn't have the ability to limit/punish/fuck you up/legislate you out of existence because their buddy asked them to?

Not that I'm against the Securities and Exchange Acts of 1933 and 1934, but before the crash of 1929, several big players became BILLIONAIRES, yes BILLIONAIRES off of insider trading and market manipuation. Do you know what happened after the crash of 1929? They lost EVERYTHING, because the free markets took care of that bullshit. How many market manipulators and insider traders actually get their just deserts, now that free markets are a thing of the past? How many businessmen?

Obama uses his "pro-women" propaganda as an excuse to pay women at the White House (when he actually hires women) far less than their male counterparts. Is that justice?


Mr. Magoo's picture

The problem was because of the unscrupulous acts of these monopolists they brought on govt intervention and regulation which had progressively got worse as time goes on and today are the fruits of their back room deals , bribes and exploitation. i am not against capitalism but when it is used to oppress and exploit your fellow countrymen then it becomes a big problem

ACP's picture

In that case, I ask again, what is the better alternative?

What form of government exploits the People less than Capitalism?

That TINY SLIVER of self-determination that exists in (Democratic) Capitalism created the powerhouse this is (was) the United States.

Pseudo Anonym's picture

the answer to your

...ask again, what is the better alternative?

is a system of governance where nobody is allowed to fuck w/ the law to their advantage.  it's one thing to out-compete on a level field and another to rig the law against the society so one can benefit at the expense of others.  in a just society, all would be equal before courts; winners and losers equally

ACP's picture

Yes, that was the intention of the Constitution of United States. It had its flaws, but provided for better opportunities than ever before for the "common man." The problem is, what you just described is impossible. That kind of society will never exist. The Founding Fathers realized that no matter how "good" a leader was at the present, somewhere down the line, a tyrant would emerge. Limitations were put in place as to the power of government. Humans are mortal, so the best one could do is assert a balance of power.

Humans are crafty fucks and will always try to find a way to circumvent laws to their advantage. The Fed has been used and abused to the advantage of those in power...that was the first mistake. People are paid for their votes nowadays. What form of government would create a playing field more level than Capitalism, ruled by Democracy?

It's easy to describe the perfect world, but that's not possible. Now I realize that's what they Founding Fathers meant by their grammatically incorrect "more perfect union" statement...there's no such thing as perfection, you can only get close. Despite the fact that they were risking everything for a "social experiment," they still managed to maintain a sense of humor.

Pseudo Anonym's picture

the problem is that the so called "founding fathers" were conspirators whose goal was to subvert articles of confederation.  in my view, the constitution was a con job:

i think the time when articles of confederation were in force was most likely when the common man had the most opportunities. ever.


James_Cole's picture

"If that's so bad, what's the alternative? Name a system, in all of recorded history, that allowed a person born outside of nobility to build a business empire?"

Feudalism comes to mind. People on here love ragging on them so might as well bring them up - Rothschild family were not nobility & did build a business empire. 

Also, China must be capitalist then right? 

"Edit: You've gotta ask yourself just one question......are you better off now, with limited options, or when government was so small it didn't have the ability to limit/punish/fuck you up/legislate you out of existence because their buddy asked them to?"

When has the US gov not had this ability / not excerised this ability? Things are much better now than in the past certainly. 

"several big players became BILLIONAIRES, yes BILLIONAIRES off of insider trading and market manipuation. Do you know what happened after the crash of 1929? They lost EVERYTHING, because the free markets took care of that bullshit."

Last I checked a few survived lol. And important to underline a related point: there were massive bank bailouts 1929-1935. 

"now that free markets are a thing of the past?"

There were free markets in the US? When? I want dates so I can easily prove you wrong.

Pseudo Anonym's picture


Rothschild family were not nobility & did build a business empire.

and dont forget lived in ghetto and were persecuted.  but you know how it goes.  the abused becomes the abuser times ten

tango's picture

I'll repeat what someone else.  And your alternative is? I've heard the old "Founding Fathers were bad guys" and international conspiracies and the 1% in all their varied manifestations.   But that's alll claptrap more suited to poker night or the water cooler.  What other economic system/government literally changed the world with material wealth beyond anyone's wildest dreams?  For that matter, what other nation today has folks lining up outside its embassies in order to try their hand? 

James_Cole's picture

"What other economic system/government literally changed the world with material wealth beyond anyone's wildest dreams?"

Insert the name of any empire here. 

Richardk888's picture

Capitalism is fine as long as it is a true free market.

Carnegie was not interested in capitalism.

max2205's picture

They brought us out of the dark ages and shoved us back into the darkness 130 years later

JOYFUL's picture

What form of government exploits the People less than Capitalism?

You give yourself away. That a government can be described as "capitalist" is the essence of the problem that you reinforce with your effort to conflate governance of the polity with the mode of economic governance a society chooses to operate under...

in your theoretical construct of 'capitalism' the role of a 'government' would be restricted to enacting and enforcing laws that keep playing fields level and reduce barriers of entry for all players. That's the myth of capitalism...the reality of capitalism is what we have now...a fully formed fusion of special interest groups and concentrations of capital with politico/juridicial lackeys who sell political leverage for money and  enforce  economic monopoly via the heavy hand of the state. "Capitalism" as you have so well defined.

You've delivered a knock out punch to your own argument. Thanks for coming out.

Next act please.