Captains of Industry - Ryan Lee


The term "Captain of Industry" is an American term that fits any person who starts out with very little economic means and rises to power through personal gain and hard work. However, to be a true captain of industry, this rise has to help the country's economy in some way, shape, or form. the biggest examples of this are through creating more jobs, increasing production, and through expanding markets.Thomas Carlyle was the man who had come up with this term. The captains of industry were able to come through when the economy was changing into a capitalistic society and so they were able to take charge of the new system and put a monopoly on their product and squash their competition. This overall was a huge change from the past considering there were guilds that could only make a certain product while now monopolies were able to come about and create whatever products they chose. This also limited the economy in someway because the factory owners were able to rake in most of the profits and so they were able to keep making money while also not allowing for new companies to be formed. It also did not allow for workers to further themselves.

As a Primary source, I used Andrew Carnegie's Autobiography. Carnegie was a captain of industry and so using his work, I was able to find out what he thought of his work. The fact that he was able to rise from nothing to become an economic powerhouse was intriguing. When he was able to fully construct his monopoly, I am surprised many other companies didn't close down. Also, with the way Carnegie was able to do this, the thought that many other men were also able to do this is very shocking. Lastly, I find the whole Captains of Industry Concept very interesting.

A good example of a captain of industry is Alfried Krupp. Alfried was born in Essen, Germany to a poor family. He was able to rise from nothing mostly due to his marriage. This was so because his wife's father was the owner of a munitions company. When Krupp got married, he decided to add his wife's last name to his so that he could eventually take over the company. He was able to take charge during WWII and was able to monopolize the German munitions industry. He created all the ammunition for the army. He was charged after the war, however, for crimes including using and abusing slave labor. He demonstrates the properties of a Captain of Industry because he was able to come from nothing and was able to rise to power and was also able to help the main economy by increasing the rate of production of his product; however, he did this by using more slave workers.


"Alfred Krupp." World History: The Modern Era. ABC-Clio, 2009. Web. 27 Sept. 2009. <>.
Carnegie, Andrew. "The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie - Chapter 10." Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie. Web. 27 Sept. 2009. <>.
Jmo1136. Cartoon Depicting talk show with a captain of industry. Digital image. CSL Cartoonstock. Web. 27 Sept. 2009. <>.
Seely, Bruce E. "Krupp." World Book Student. World Book, 2009. Web. 27 Sept. 2009.
Sizemore, Jim. 'Freddie, the Little Merger Mogul, didn't expect to have a monopoly right away...' Digital image. CSL Cartoonstock. Web. 27 Sept. 2009. <>.