Of course, there were more than just Rockefeller and Carnegie, but J.P. Morgan who bought Carnegie Steel, Cornelius Vanderbilt, another railroad guy, George Pullman, the Chicago king of train cars, and countless others, but as usual, not everyone was rich.
How did you become a Rockefeller or Carnegie? How do you dive into a pit of money Scrooge McDuck style? This was a question that plenty of people had.
There of course was inheritance, you just sort of wait around and wait for your rich relative to die.
There was also the idea of 'Social Darwinism', or survival of the fittest.
Charles Darwin was a scientist who did a lot of work with the origin of species and evolution.
His theory is that certain species survive because they are the best suited, they were the strong ones so they could thrive and live.
Since Darwin also believes that humans were descended from apes then natural selection would apply to humans as well. Some people believed that the people who were the most successful had the necessary traits, education, talent, determination, and jazziness to rise to the top.
Social Darwinists also believed that like animals, the weaker members of society would die out, only leaving the supreme genes and thus, monster truck rallies would never come to be....
Then....there was a 3rd idea, the American Dream.
American Dreams was a wonderful show on NBC about an Irish Catholic family facing the changes and challenges of the 1960s, but NBC cancelled it, AND I HAVE SO MANY UNRESOLVED QUESTIONS!!!
Anyway, umm...ok..the American Dream, a guy named Horatio Alger was the biggest fan of the American Dream.
Alger wrote novels geared towards immigrants. In these novels he told the new Americans the secret to success: hard work and luck.
With a little luck and a lot of hard work, anyone could become rich and successful and achieve their dreams!!!
So, what was the way to become rich and successful?
Was it only a few select people who were chosen? Was it hard work? Was it sheer luck?
I suppose if I knew this answer, I wouldn't be living with my parents and driving a car that was brand new when Clinton was president...