Learn about America’s Most Notorious Robber Barons: Jay Gould, Andrew Carnegie, and Cornelius Vanderbilt.
These notorious men controlled a large portion of America’s wealth in the 19th century and helped to shape America as we know it today. Jay Gould was a railroad developer and speculator. He was arguably the most ruthless robber baron of the Gilded Age and one of the richest men of his era. Andrew Carnegie led the expansion of the American steel industry and sold his company to what is known today as the US Steel Corporation. At the height of his career, Carnegie was the second richest person in the world. Carnegie was viewed as a less ruthless robber baron, becoming known more for his philanthropist efforts. When one hears the name Cornelius Vanderbilt, they think of Vanderbilt University. This is because Vanderbilt provided the initial funding for the university. Cornelius Vanderbilt built his wealth in railroads and shipping and was known for owning the New York Central Railroad. Vanderbilt amassed so much wealth that scholars argue he would be worth $145 billion in 2007 United States dollars.