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Andrew Carnegie20161019

Andrew Carnegie20161019

In the 19th century, so-called 'Robber Barons' - men like Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jay Gould, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan - seized the great new opportunities thrown up by the United States' Industrial Revolution.

The Robber Barons built vast businesses, and helped forged a radically new country - the basis of the America we know today. But did they sow the seeds of amazing progress, or did they steal the American Dream? Historian Adam Smith tells their stories and confronts their legacy.

In this episode, Adam explores the paradoxical career of steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie.

Carnegie was born poor in Scotland and seized the opportunities America offered.

He clambered up through the burgeoning telegraph and railroad industries through determination, hard work and intelligence. But along the way he was making money by corrupt means.

With the help of this money, he launched himself into the steel industry. His deployment of innovations in production helped him dominate it.

And then he sold up and spent decades giving away his money to pay for libraries and concert halls.

And yet he was also one of America's leading strike-breakers, not averse to using violence to crush trade union activity.

With: TJ Stiles, Joanna Cohen, Steve Fraser

PRODUCER: PHIL TINLINE.

Andrew Carnegie20161019

In the 19th century, so-called 'Robber Barons' - men like Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jay Gould, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan - seized the great new opportunities thrown up by the United States' Industrial Revolution.

The Robber Barons built vast businesses, and helped forged a radically new country - the basis of the America we know today. But did they sow the seeds of amazing progress, or did they steal the American Dream? Historian Adam Smith tells their stories and confronts their legacy.

In this episode, Adam explores the paradoxical career of steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie.

Carnegie was born poor in Scotland and seized the opportunities America offered.

He clambered up through the burgeoning telegraph and railroad industries through determination, hard work and intelligence. But along the way he was making money by corrupt means.

With the help of this money, he launched himself into the steel industry. His deployment of innovations in production helped him dominate it.

And then he sold up and spent decades giving away his money to pay for libraries and concert halls.

And yet he was also one of America's leading strike-breakers, not averse to using violence to crush trade union activity.

With: TJ Stiles, Joanna Cohen, Steve Fraser

PRODUCER: PHIL TINLINE.

Cornelius Vanderbilt20161017

In the 19th century, so-called 'Robber Barons' - men like Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jay Gould, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan - seized the great new opportunities thrown up by the United States' Industrial Revolution.

The Robber Barons built vast businesses, and helped forged a radically new country - the basis of the America we know today. But did they sow the seeds of amazing progress, or did they steal the American Dream? Historian Adam Smith tells their stories and confronts their legacy.

In the opening episode, Adam tells the story of Cornelius Vanderbilt and his battle to wrest control of the shipping route from New York to San Francisco.

Vanderbilt was a farmboy from Staten Island who faced down the East Coast Establishment in the name of the Revolution.

He fought his way up until he dominated New York shipping.

He took on government-backed monopolies to win a part of the lucrative shipping route from New York to San Francisco, ferrying thousands of prospectors to the Gold Rush.

But then an adventurer seized his steamboats and threatened his whole business. Vanderbilt's astoundingly violent - and astoundingly effective - response secured his position as the first of America's great 'robber barons'.

And then, aged 69, he sold his ships and went into railroads...

With: TJ Stiles, Joanna Cohen

PRODUCER: PHIL TINLINE.

In the 19th century, so-called 'Robber Barons' - men like Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jay Gould, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan - seized the great new opportunities thrown up by the United States' Industrial Revolution.

The Robber Barons built vast businesses, and helped forged a radically new country - the basis of the America we know today. But did they sow the seeds of amazing progress, or did they steal the American Dream? Historian Adam Smith tells their stories and confronts their legacy.

In the opening episode, Adam tells the story of Cornelius Vanderbilt and his battle to wrest control of the shipping route from New York to San Francisco.

Vanderbilt was a farmboy from Staten Island who faced down the East Coast Establishment in the name of the Revolution.

He fought his way up until he dominated New York shipping.

He took on government-backed monopolies to win a part of the lucrative shipping route from New York to San Francisco, ferrying thousands of prospectors to the Gold Rush.

But then an adventurer seized his steamboats and threatened his whole business. Vanderbilt's astoundingly violent - and astoundingly effective - response secured his position as the first of America's great 'robber barons'.

And then, aged 69, he sold his ships and went into railroads...

With: TJ Stiles, Joanna Cohen

PRODUCER: PHIL TINLINE.

Jay Gould20161018
Jay Gould20161018

Jay Gould20161018

In the 19th century, so-called 'Robber Barons' - men like Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jay Gould, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan - seized the great new opportunities thrown up by the United States' Industrial Revolution.

The Robber Barons built vast businesses, and helped forged a radically new country - the basis of the America we know today. But did they sow the seeds of amazing progress, or did they steal the American Dream? Historian Adam Smith tells their stories and confronts their legacy.

In this episode, Adam tells the story of the most rascally of the Robber Barons: Jay Gould.

As railroad companies raced each other to spread across America, they presented a great chance for wealth and power to anyone brave and ruthless enough to join the competition.

Gould got a stake in the Erie Railroad Company, and warded off a takeover bid from the first of the Robber Barons, Cornelius Vanderbilt, by printing endless stock certificates to soak up Vanderbilt's huge spending power.

He fled the New York police by rowing to New Jersey, won bail, and went to New York's state capital to bribe as many politicians as he could gets his hands on.

And then he decided to corner the Gold Market, by means of his connections with the Vice-Presidency.

He was so successful he needed bodyguards. Yet he was also one of the great railroad pioneers - helping to transform his country.

With: TJ Stiles, Joanna Cohen, Steve Fraser

PRODUCER: PHIL TINLINE.

Jay Gould20161018

In the 19th century, so-called 'Robber Barons' - men like Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jay Gould, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan - seized the great new opportunities thrown up by the United States' Industrial Revolution.

The Robber Barons built vast businesses, and helped forged a radically new country - the basis of the America we know today. But did they sow the seeds of amazing progress, or did they steal the American Dream? Historian Adam Smith tells their stories and confronts their legacy.

In this episode, Adam tells the story of the most rascally of the Robber Barons: Jay Gould.

As railroad companies raced each other to spread across America, they presented a great chance for wealth and power to anyone brave and ruthless enough to join the competition.

Gould got a stake in the Erie Railroad Company, and warded off a takeover bid from the first of the Robber Barons, Cornelius Vanderbilt, by printing endless stock certificates to soak up Vanderbilt's huge spending power.

He fled the New York police by rowing to New Jersey, won bail, and went to New York's state capital to bribe as many politicians as he could gets his hands on.

And then he decided to corner the Gold Market, by means of his connections with the Vice-Presidency.

He was so successful he needed bodyguards. Yet he was also one of the great railroad pioneers - helping to transform his country.

With: TJ Stiles, Joanna Cohen, Steve Fraser

PRODUCER: PHIL TINLINE.

John D Rockefeller20161020

In the 19th century, so-called 'Robber Barons' - men like Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jay Gould, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan - seized the great new opportunities thrown up by the United States' Industrial Revolution.

The Robber Barons built vast businesses, and helped forged a radically new country - the basis of the America we know today. But did they sow the seeds of amazing progress, or did they steal the American Dream? Historian Adam Smith tells their stories and confronts their legacy.

In this episode, Adam explores how Rockefeller spotted a huge business opportunity amidst the dynamic chaos and ruthless competition of the growing oil trade in America in the 1860s and 1870s.

Early Robber Barons like Cornelius Vanderbilt had begun their careers exulting in the anti-Establishment rebellion signalled by business competition. But Rockefeller saw another way: consolidation.

He cut secret deals with railroad companies, pressured his rivals into selling out to him, and so built Standard Oil - a gargantuan corporation that dominated US oil and 'vertically integrated' the production process, handing Rockefeller huge power.

Some condemned him as a monster - but he saw his company's actions as those of an angel of mercy, saving his fellow businessmen from the storms of the free market.

And all the while he was a devout Baptist, who spent his later decades giving away huge sums as one of America's pioneering philanthropists.

With: Joanna Cohen, Steve Fraser.

PRODUCER: PHIL TINLINE.

Jp Morgan20161021

In the 19th century, so-called 'Robber Barons' - men like Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jay Gould, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan - seized the great new opportunities thrown up by the United States' Industrial Revolution.

The Robber Barons built vast businesses, and helped forged a radically new country - the basis of the America we know today. But did they sow the seeds of amazing progress, or did they steal the American Dream? Historian Adam Smith tells their stories and confronts their legacy.

In this episode, Adam explores how New York banker J.P. Morgan used ruthless pressure not to win in the free market but to end 'ruinous' competition.

Morgan strong-armed rival railroad companies into agreeing not to compete.

He bought out Andrew Carnegie's steel empire, in the great such deal in history, to forge the huge corporation US Steel.

And he did the same in the fields of electricity, farming and telecommunications, creating General Electric, International Harvester and AT&T to close down competition through consolidated companies.

And then in 1907 he played a crucial role in stopping the American economy collapsing.

And in this final episode, Adam takes a walk down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, to explore how the Robber Barons have shaped our world. They helped to create crucial aspects of our world, which we now take for granted - such as vast corporations and paid employment, cheap travel and technology and huge gaps between rich and poor.

But is their legacy really more about the ruthless dynamic innovation of the free market, or big companies cosily closing down competition?

With: TJ Stiles, Joanna Cohen, Steve Fraser

PRODUCER: PHIL TINLINE.

JP Morgan20161021

JP Morgan20161021

In the 19th century, so-called 'Robber Barons' - men like Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jay Gould, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan - seized the great new opportunities thrown up by the United States' Industrial Revolution.

The Robber Barons built vast businesses, and helped forged a radically new country - the basis of the America we know today. But did they sow the seeds of amazing progress, or did they steal the American Dream? Historian Adam Smith tells their stories and confronts their legacy.

In this episode, Adam explores how New York banker J.P. Morgan used ruthless pressure not to win in the free market but to end 'ruinous' competition.

Morgan strong-armed rival railroad companies into agreeing not to compete.

He bought out Andrew Carnegie's steel empire, in the great such deal in history, to forge the huge corporation US Steel.

And he did the same in the fields of electricity, farming and telecommunications, creating General Electric, International Harvester and AT&T to close down competition through consolidated companies.

And then in 1907 he played a crucial role in stopping the American economy collapsing.

And in this final episode, Adam takes a walk down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, to explore how the Robber Barons have shaped our world. They helped to create crucial aspects of our world, which we now take for granted - such as vast corporations and paid employment, cheap travel and technology and huge gaps between rich and poor.

But is their legacy really more about the ruthless dynamic innovation of the free market, or big companies cosily closing down competition?

With: TJ Stiles, Joanna Cohen, Steve Fraser

PRODUCER: PHIL TINLINE.