How shall we judge the contributions to American society of the great financiers and industrialists at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries? In this lesson, students explore a variety of primary historical sources to uncover some of the less honorable deeds as well as the shrewd business moves and highly charitable acts of the great industrialists and financiers, men such as Andrew Carnegie, J. Pierpont Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, and Cornelius Vanderbilt.
About a century has passed since the events at the center of this lesson-the Haymarket Affair, the Homestead Strike, and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. In this lesson, students use primary historical sources to explore some of the questions raised by these events, questions that continue to be relevant in debates about American society: Where do we draw the line between acceptable business practices and unacceptable working conditions? Can an industrial-and indeed a post-industrial-economy succeed without taking advantage of those who do the work?