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“a Set Of Mere Money-getters”?
Were the great business tycoons of the nineteenth century only that? A distinguished historian says no—most emphatically
June 1963 | Volume 14, Issue 4
Not only has immersion in large domestic affairs made their judgments and influence valuable, but they have often possessed an international experience that men of lesser range have lacked. Walter Lippmann recently remarked, “For a long time, for most of this century, there has been a large divergence inside the business world and inside the Republican party on questions of provincialism and parochialism as against nationalism and internationalism”; and he added that internationalism is championed by “the bigger industrialists and bankers in the big cities, the businessmen who have had a wider experience at home and abroad.” To some extent this was true of the greater industrialists and financiers of the nineteenth century as well. The issues did not present themselves in the shape they later assumed, but these men tended to bring a world vision into the restricted American sphere. Andrew Carnegie, who endowed the Hague World Court and a foundation for international peace, was an internationalist; so was John D. Rockefeller, whose business was world-wide, who built the New Bodleian Library and restored Rheims Cathedral, and one of whose foundations stamped out yellow fever around the globe; so was J. P. Morgan, who took risks as the Anglo-French financier in the First World War that he would not have taken had he not felt the deepest affection for England and France; and so was Henry Ford, who established manufacturing plants of huge magnitude in Windsor, Ontario, and Dagenham, England, and lesser factories in France and Germany. This aspect of the minds of our “big” industrialists ought not to be overlooked. Many of them saw further in advance of their time than Charles Francis Adams, Jr., did, or than their other critics ever peered.