A crystal clear memory of a worksheet from my high school A.P. U.S. History class — a short description of an exploit belonging to an American industrialist, followed by two blanks, one column labelled ‘Captain of Industry’ and the other ‘Robber Baron.’ After completing the worksheet, we learned a valuable lesson — these guys could be heartless moneymen and lavish philanthropists. At the same time! Balance is the key to success, right?
Like many early Duluth millionaires, William A. McGonagle was certainly cut from that rarefied cloth. And because one side of his story’s more colorful, here’s a short produced audio piece outlining some of McGonagle’s union-busting and kidnapping hi-jinx:
See what I’m saying?
And as a ‘Captain of Industry,’ or at least the ‘Not Morally Bankrupt’ side of things, Heidi also shared a story-sketch about McGonagle giving a 1925 speech for the Knights of Columbus despite threats from the Ku Klux Klan. That story, as well as many others (including the union busting one above), are in a wonderful book I’ve been perusing since I arrived — By the Ore Docks: A Working People’s History of Duluth by Richard Hudelson and Carl Ross.