...harnessed America's vast mineral resources and tapped its long-stored capital to create needed industrial growth but who, to turn that growth into personal wealth, had stationed themselves at the "narrows" of production, the key points of production and distribution, and exacted tribute from the nation. They were the men who had blackmailed state legislatures and city councils by threatening to build their railroad lines elsewhere unless they received tax exemptions, outright gifts of cash -- and land grants so vast that, by 1920, the elected representatives of America had turned over to the railroad barons an area the size of Texas. They were the men who had bribed and corrupted legislators -- the Standard Oil Company, one historian said, did everything possible to the Pennsylvania Legislature except refine it -- to let them loot the nation's oil and ore, the men who, building their empires on the toil of millions of immigrant laborers, had kept wages low, hours long, and had crushed the unions. Their creed was summed up in two quotes: Commodore Vanderbilt's "Law? What do I care for law? Hain't I got the power?" and J.P. Morgan's "I owe the public nothing."
It's important to remember that it was during this same period, and in service to the railroad barons, that the doctrine of the "corporation as person" first took hold in the U.S. Supreme Court. (Mittens Romney verbally pays homage to that doctrine, but every other national Republican and Democratic candidate that we know anything about also worships at that altar, if less obviously, sad to say.)
The passage above, lifted from Robert A. Caro, "The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York," which is an exceedingly old (published 1974) and exceedingly weighty tome (over a thousand pages! yikes) but compulsively readable and instructive about the practice of politics in 20th-century America.