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Robber baron (industrialist)

American Gilded Age businessmen who were accused of using unscrupulous methods to get rich / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Robber baron is a derogatory term of social criticism originally applied to certain wealthy and powerful 19th-century American businessmen. The term appeared as early as the August 1870 issue of The Atlantic Monthly[1] magazine. By the late 19th century, the term was typically applied to businessmen who purportedly used exploitative practices to amass their wealth.[2] These practices included exerting control over natural resources, influencing high levels of government, paying subsistence wages, squashing competition by acquiring their competitors to create monopolies and raise prices, and schemes to sell stock at inflated prices to unsuspecting investors.[2] The term combines the sense of criminal ("robber") and illegitimate aristocracy (a baron is an illegitimate role in a republic).[3]

1904 depiction of an acquisitive and manipulative business enterprise (Standard Oil) as an all-powerful octopus