Captain of industry

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For other meanings of "captain(s) of industry", see Captains of Industry (disambiguation).

During the Industrial Revolution, a captain of industry was a business leader whose means of amassing a personal fortune contributed positively to the country in some way.

This may have been through increased productivity, expansion of markets, providing more jobs, or acts of philanthropy.[1] This characterization contrasts with that of the robber baron, a business leader using political means to achieve personal ends.

Some 19th-century industrialists who were called "captains of industry" overlap with those called "robber barons". These include people such as J.P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, Andrew W. Mellon, and John D. Rockefeller. The term was coined by Thomas Carlyle in his 1843 book, Past and Present.


  1. ^ Scranton, Philip. "Fine Line Between Thief and Entrepreneur". Retrieved 12 July 2011.

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