Robber Barons or Captains of Industry? Big Business at the Turn of the 20th Century An Inquiry Design Model for Grade 11 Compelling Question How did Americans feel about Big Business Leaders? Supporting Questions 1. What is the difference between a robber baron and a captain of industry? 2.
Cornelius Vanderbilt died in 1877, at the age of 82, at that time Cornelius Vanderbilt was the wealthiest man in the United States. I believe that Cornelius Vanderbilt was a Captain of American Industry but some believe he was a robber baron. A robber baron refers to a feudal lord, usually in Germany, who charged huge tolls for those shipping.