The BEST Episodes of The Men Who Built America

Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!

Last Updated: Apr 12, 2021

Network: History

John D. Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford and J.P. Morgan rose from obscurity and in the process built modern America. Their names hang on street signs, are etched into buildings and are a part of the fabric of history. These men created the American Dream and were the engine of capitalism as they transformed everything they touched in building the oil, rail, steel, shipping, automobile and finance industries. Their paths crossed repeatedly as they elected presidents, set economic policies and influenced major events of the 50 most formative years this country has ever known. From the Civil War to the Great Depression and World War I, they led the way. Using state of the art computer generated imagery that incorporates 12 million historical negatives, many made available for the first time by the Library of Congress, this series will bring back to life the world they knew and the one they created. The event series will show how these men took a failed experiment in democracy and created the greatest superpower the world has ever seen. We see how their historic achievements came to create the America of today.

Oil Strike

#1 - Oil Strike

Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired Oct 23, 2012

Vanderbilt expands his enterprises, realizing that oil is the nation’s next crucial commodity. The demand for oil is high and Vanderbilt knows that it will be an important item for his trains to transport. He turns to a young oilman from California named John D. Rockefeller to make a deal that will work for both businessmen, but rivalries emerge between them. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil has become one of the nation’s first monopolies. A financial panic in 1873 shows that the American economy is on shaky ground even as it expands.

star 8.01
213 votes
Directors: Patrick Reams
Blood Is Spilled

#2 - Blood Is Spilled

Season 1 - Episode 4 - Aired Nov 11, 2012

Carnegie hires Henry Frick to help him achieve his goal of dominating the steel industry and besting Rockefeller. The partnership seems promising, but Frick is pushing workers to a breaking point. Meanwhile, the Johnstown flood of 1889 leaves 2,000 people dead, and Carnegie’s South fork fishing & Hunting Club faces blame. Worker unrest culminates in a massive strike at the Homestead Steel plant in 1892. Violence ensues when Frick calls in the Pinkerton security agency. The strike is a major turning point in American labor history, showing how workers would fight for fair wages and conditions when faced with injustice. Carnegie is determined to make up for these scars on his reputation.

star 7.98
248 votes
Directors: Patrick Reams
A New War Begins

#3 - A New War Begins

Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired Oct 16, 2012

Out of the turmoil of the Civil War, America enters an age of enlightenment that will change the landscape of the country forever. The growth is driven by five insightful men who will change the world forever.

star 7.92
353 votes
Directors: Patrick Reams
A Rivalry Is Born

#4 - A Rivalry Is Born

Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired Oct 30, 2012

Andrew Carnegie is an immigrant from Scotland who arrives in the u.S. with his parents and starts working at age 12. He finds a patron in railroad executive Tom Scott who teaches him about the business. Scott hires him to build a bridge over the Mississippi River to link East and West. Carnegie agrees even though the project carries risk. He finds his answer in steel. The bridge opens in 1874. Before Carnegie realizes the full potential of steel, his mentor Scott dies in a state of humiliation over the success of John D. Rockefeller’s oil pipeline. Carnegie vows to have his revenge and best Rockefeller. With the steel industry thriving, U.S. cities start to grow. But can Carnegie stay at the top of his game?

star 7.90
268 votes
Directors: Patrick Reams