That's not really an accurate representation of the facts. People who cheat often become rich if nobody calls them on it. However, our country as a whole did not attain the level of overall wealth it did as a result of such acts.
Our current tax system confiscates money from one group and gives it to others, along with a massive amount of borrowed money, and our overall quality of life is not increasing at nearly the rate it had over the previous 100years.
Slavery was most certainly wrong, but hardly free. The economics of it certainly played to the plantation owner's advantage, but a weak/nearly dead (or dead) slave was of little use to the plantation owner. In reality, he had to decide how much to invest in the care of his slaves. Much as government run healthcare does. Like the government, once the ROI on the slave/citizen goes negative you stop investing in them. The plantation owner, however, had to go buy another slave, so the model breaks down there.
As for patents, the idea is, and was, to protect intellectual property so the person who created/invented/discovered whatever was patented can have a window of time to recoup their investment and gain some reward for it. That, along with a very small and limited government, is what made our country take off.
Unfortunately, it seems the patent system has become so abused that very minor variations of an existing patent suddenly become "new". In other cases similarities can often appear to be infringements. It seems to me this is a trial lawyer issue. In the end, it's the attorneys and accountants that profit from the legal battles.