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Great Fortunes from Railroads   By: (1872-1942)

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HISTORY OF THE GREAT AMERICAN FORTUNES

BY GUSTAVUS MYERS

AUTHOR OF "THE HISTORY OF TAMMANY HALL," "HISTORY OF PUBLIC FRANCHISES IN NEW YORK CITY," ETC.

VOL. II

GREAT FORTUNES FROM RAILROADS

I. THE SEIZURE OF THE PUBLIC DOMAIN

II. A NECESSARY CONTRAST

III. THE BEGINNINGS OF THE VANDERBILT FORTUNE

IV. THE ONRUSH OF THE VANDERBILT FORTUNE

V. THE VANDERBILT FORTUNE INCREASES MANIFOLD

VI. THE ENTAILING OF THE VANDERBILT FORTUNE

VII. THE VANDERBILT FORTUNE IN THE PRESENT GENERATION

VIII. FURTHER ASPECTS OF THE VANDERBILT FORTUNE

IX. THE RISE OR THE GOULD FORTUNE

X. THE SECOND STAGE OF THE GOULD FORTUNE

XI. THE GOULD FORTUNE BOUNDS FORWARD

XII. THE GOULD FORTUNE AND SOME ANTECEDENT FACTORS

XIII. FURTHER ASPECTS OF THE VANDERBILT FORTUNE 260

PART III

THE GREAT FORTUNES FROM RAILROADS

CHAPTER I

THE SEIZURE OF THE PUBLIC DOMAIN

Before setting out to relate in detail the narrative of the amassing of the great individual fortunes from railroads, it is advisable to present a preliminary survey of the concatenating circumstances leading up to the time when these vast fortunes were rolled together. Without this explanation, this work would be deficient in clarity, and would leave unelucidated many important points, the absence of which might puzzle or vex the reader.

Although industrial establishments, as exemplified by mills, factories and shops, much preceded the construction of railroads, yet the next great group of fortunes to develop after, and along with, those from land were the fortunes plucked from the control and manipulation of railroad systems.

THE LAGGING FACTORY FORTUNES.

Under the first stages of the old chaotic competitive system, in which factory warred against factory, and an intense struggle for survival and ascendency enveloped the whole tense sphere of manufacturing, no striking industrial fortunes were made.

Fortunate was that factory owner regarded who could claim $250,000 clear. All of those modern and complex factors offering such unbounded opportunities for gathering in spoils mounting into the hundreds of millions of dollars, were either unknown or in an inchoate or rudimentary state. Invention, if we may put it so, was just blossoming forth. Hand labor was largely prevalent. Huge combinations were undreamed of; paper capitalization as embodied in the fictitious issues of immense quantities of bonds and stocks was not yet a part of the devices of the factory owner, although it was a fixed plan of the bankers and insurance companies.

The factory owner was the supreme type of that sheer individualism which had burst forth from the restraints of feudalism. He stood alone fighting his commercial contests with persistent personal doggedness. Beneath his occasional benevolence and his religious professions was a wild ardor in the checkmating or bankruptcy of his competitors. These were his enemies; he fought them with every mercantile weapon, and they him; and none gave quarter.

Apart from the destructive character of this incessant warfare, dooming many of the combatants, other intervening factors had the tendency of holding back the factory owners' quick progress obstacles and drawbacks copiously described in later and more appropriate parts of this work.

MIGHT OF THE RAILROAD OWNERS.

In contrast to the slow, almost creeping pace of the factory owners in the race for wealth, the railroad owners sprang at once into the lists of mighty wealth possessers, armed with the most comprehensive and puissant powers and privileges, and vested with a sweep of properties beside which those of the petty industrial bosses were puny. Railroad owners, we say; the distinction is necessary between the builders of the railroads and the owners. The one might construct, but it often happened that by means of cunning, fraud and corruption, the builders were superseded by another set of men who vaulted into possession.

Looking back and summing up the course of events for a series of years, it may be said that there was created over night a number of entities empowered with extraordinary and far reaching rights and powers of ownership... Continue reading book >>




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