Was America’s first billionaire, John D. Rockefeller, a greedy robber baron, a generous philanthropist, or both? And did the oil tycoon exploit America’s poor or give them access to much-needed energy? Historian and Hillsdale College professor Burt Folsom, author of “The Myth of the Robber Barons,” reveals the truth about the Rockefeller empire…
The common, though completely unfair, perception of the “robber barons,” of which Rockefeller is generally considered one of the nastiest, is a function of the Marxist bent of our educational industry – and that also applies to how our historians treat the Gilded Age of the late 19th century.
That age saw an amazing amount of technological development and a rapid increase in the American standard of living, much of which was ultimately choked off when the Progressives brought an influx of poisonous German political philosophy into American society – first with Woodrow Wilson’s administration and later with that of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Our economic dynamism has never recovered, though certainly we’ve developed billionaires since.