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The Men Who Built America

Discover how a steamboat captain built a railroad empire.


The Men Who Built America is a History Channel eight-hour, four-part mini series docudrama broadcast in Fall 2012. The series focuses on Cornelius VanderbiltJohn D. RockefellerAndrew CarnegieJ.P. Morgan and Henry Ford and how their industrial innovations and business empires revolutionized and, as alluded to in the title, “built” America. The series is directed by Patrick Reams and Ruán Magan and is narrated by Campbell Scott.


In order of appearance:

Episode list

Note: The series consists of four two-hour episodes.

# Title Directed by Written by Original air date
1 “A New War Begins” Ruán Magan David C. WhiteKeith Palmer October 16, 2012
Cornelius Vanderbilt grows from a steamboat entrepreneur to the head of a railroad empire, and gets into a heated rivalry with Jim Fisk and Jay Gould; the up and coming John D. Rockefeller founds Standard Oil and starts to expand his wealth by diverting his buisness from the railroads to a new innovation, oil pipelines.
2 “Bloody Battles” Patrick Reams David C. White, Keith Palmer October 23, 2012
Andrew Carnegie builds an empire around steel, but finds himself struggling to save face after the ruthless tactics of his buisness partner, Henry Frick, result in both the Johnstown Flood as well as the bloody 1892 strike at the Homestead Steel Works.
3 “Changing the Game” Patrick Reams David C. White, Patrick Reams October 30, 2012
J.P. Morgan proceeds to banish the dark with the direct current electric light of Thomas Edison, but the two soon face serious competition from the alternating current of George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla. As the 19th century comes to a close, the titans of industry must try to work together to stop a new threat in budding politician William Jennings Bryan, who threatens to dissolve monopolies in America.
4 “When One Ends, Another Begins” Patrick Reams David C. White, Keith Palmer November 11, 2012
Rockefeller, Carnegie and Morgan team up to help elect William McKinley to the U.S. presidency by paying for his 1896 campaign, to avoid a possible attack on monopolies. However, fate intervenes when McKinley is suddenly assassinated, and vice-president Theodore Roosevelt assumes the presidency and promptly begins dissolving monopolies and trusts in America. Meanwhile, Morgan buys out Carnegie Steel to make Carnegie the richest man in the world, and Henry Ford designs an affordable automobile with his Model A and starts his own business, Ford Motor Company, which sets a new buisness model for companies to follow. ℗ is your source to learn about the broad and beautiful spectrum of our shared History.