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History's Greatest Industrialist

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Devils_Advocate
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So, who, in your opinion, was the greatest industrialist the world has ever seen? I've always admired both John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie (despite the religion of the first and the politics of the second). They both ran excellent companies, from what I know. But neither of them was exactly Hank Rearden. Who would you name the Captain of the Captains of Industry?

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So, who, in your opinion, was the greatest industrialist the world has ever seen? I've always admired both John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie (despite the religion of the first and the politics of the second). They both ran excellent companies, from what I know. But neither of them was exactly Hank Rearden. Who would you name the Captain of the Captains of Industry?

What's you're criteria for greatness a la Hank Rearden? Most "rational"?

I vote J.J. Hill. Not greatest, but certainly one of most self-sufficient in what was arguably a mixed period with mixed personalities.

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The train men. There are too many to name, in Britain and America alike, but James Jerome Hill would be an excellent example of a private railroader in a time of failing or near-failing public railroads. I love trains and railroads. To me, the train symbolises the Industrial Revolution, and so the great men who made that possible - both the invention of the train and the running of successful companies - were History's Greatest Industrialists. The division of labour that results in all our current wealth requires a massive transport network, to get raw materials to producers, from producers to traders.... all of this needs transport. Not to mention that a great billow steam engine is more than just impressive.

Edit: I didn't see Kendall's post. ;)

Edited by Tenure
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Perhaps they aren't even great yet, but I'm sure the current crop of space travel start-ups will be long remembered as the men who opened up the universe to humanity. Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Burt Ruttan, Robert Bigelow and many others.

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  • 3 weeks later...
The more I understand banking, the more this guy becomes like God.

Recommend some reading on that?

You can't really compare different industrialists from different times and rank them objectively. But based on what they did, their own stories and such, I'd say my own personal favorite is the Commodore. Everything I read about him is like an adventure novel, or an O'Henry story. He is so interesting, and actually, ballsy. If you've read Bernsteins <I>Capitalist Manifesto</I>, the first page in the history section, you've caught a small glimpse of how awesome the guy was.

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Johannes Gutenberg, hands down. Grandfather of the fathers of the industrial age.

Damn book worm.

Have you read Hugo's essay in Hunchback comparing architecture to the printing press?

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Have you read Hugo's essay in Hunchback comparing architecture to the printing press?

Yes, a stunning work in my estimation.

In its printed form, thought is more imperishable than ever; it is volatile, irresistible, indestructible. It is mingled with the air. In the days of architecture it made a mountain of itself, and took powerful possession of a century and a place. Now it converts itself into a flock of birds, scatters itself to the four winds, and occupies all points of air and space at once.
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  • 1 month later...

William Henry Vanderbilt "The Public be Damned!" Yes, just for that line. He wasn't one to cower in fear, or talk about the common good, or engage in corporate self-destruction, or so many of these other actions that businesses today should be ashamed of doing to expedite their demise.

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I really love Thomas Edison, because he was a great inventor and a great industrialist. In fact, he invented the industrial lab, which is now the mainstay for high tech corporations.

Mehh, I like Tesla better. Although in fairness, he wasn't an industrialist.

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I don't know about "the greatest" but I definitely will back the J.P. Morgan recommendation. The man single-handed saved the economy two times. He is essentially doing what government is doing now (trying to save a dying financial system), except all by himself. That really says something in my opinion.

Morgan,_Sam.jpg

Edit: And as a side note, I hope to have my name on these lists one day!

Edited by Mammon
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