United States History

Robber Baron Mock Trial:


The 19th century in the United States was a time of incredible prosperity and progress:  often lifting themselves on the social ladder from rags to riches, American business tycoons dominated global markets and built mountains of wealth.  But to do so, these “Robber Barons” often bankrupted their opposition with aggressive price wars, they drove their beleaguered workforce to produce products, food, and materials in incredibly dangerous conditions for pitiably low pay.  When workers banded together to protest and strike, they were mercilessly crushed by those whose empires had been built upon the backs of the poor.

Your task will be to defend the work of the entrepreneurs who built American industry, or to make them pay for their crimes against the working man.

Questions for consideration:

    Does it matter how an individual makes their money?

    If a wealthy individual uses their money to benefit the community, are they forgiven for any “crimes” committed in acquiring their wealth?

    In our capitalist-based economic system, we seem to place great value on -- and to honor -- the making of enormous sums of money for its own sake.  Since wealth can often be acquired through cutthroat tactics and scandalous actions, should we continue to do so?

    Should personal morality and ethics play a role in business practices?


    1. Sign up for one of the assigned roles listed on the ROLES page.

    2. Conduct research based upon your given perspective.

    3. Complete the research notes and complete the writing assignment on the CONCLUSION page

    4. PRINT and submit your paper by the assigned date of the trial.  This must be turned in upon completion of your testimony in the trial.

    5. Come to the trial and present your case before the judge and jury.