This week at In The Past Lane, the history podcast, we begin a multi-episode look at that fascinating period known as the Gilded Age. This seemed a good time to do it because PBS just aired its new documentary called The Gilded Age. I was lucky enough to be one of the featured historians. The premiere on Feb 6 drew a big audience and rave reviews. And it’s not too difficult to see why: there are so many parallels between the Gilded Age (1870-1900) and the era in which we now live. The nation then and now was consumed with intense debates over wealth inequality, labor unions, immigration, terrorism, women’s rights, family values, money in politics, voter disenfranchisement, Wall Street recklessness, political polarization and paralysis, religion vs. secularism, individualism vs. the common good, free market capitalism vs. regulation and wars of choice vs. diplomacy. Many people these days want to know: are we living in a second Gilded Age? Well, the best way to find out is to learn more about the first Gilded Age. So let’s do it.
Among the many things discussed in this episode:
What was the Gilded Age?
What were the positive aspects of the Gilded Age that led many Americans see it as an age of progress?
What were the negative aspects of the Gilded Age that promoted many Americans to worry about the future of the republic?
How Andrew Carnegie was the Bill Gates of the Gilded Age
Are we in 2018 living in a second Gilded Age?
Sven Beckert, The Monied Metropolis: New York City and the Consolidation of the American Bourgeoisie, 1850-1896 (2001)
Rebecca Edwards, New Spirits: Americans in the Gilded Age: 1865-1905 (2006)
Michael McGerr, A Fierce Discontent: The Rise and Fall of the Progressive Movement in America, 1870-1920 (2003)
Edward T. O’Donnell, Henry George and the Crisis of Inequality: Progress and Poverty in the Gilded Age (2015)
Nell Irvin Painter, Standing at Armageddon: A Grassroots History of the Progressive Era (1987)
Heather Cox Richardson, The Death of Reconstruction: Race, Labor, and Politics in the Post-Civil War North, 1865-1901 (2001)
Richard White, The Republic for Which It Stands: The United States during Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865-1896 (Oxford, 2017)
“The Gilded Age” PBS American Experience (premiered Feb 6, 2018)
Related ITPL Podcast Episodes:
Episode 44 with Richard White on the Gilded Age and Reconstruction
Music for This Episode
Jay Graham, ITPL Intro (JayGMusic.com)
Kevin McCleod, “Impact Moderato” (Free Music Archive)
Lee Rosevere, “Going Home” (Free Music Archive)
Jon Luc Hefferman, “Winter Trek” (Free Music Archive)
The Bell, “I Am History” (Free Music Archive)
Executive Producer: Lulu Spencer
Technical Advisors: Holly Hunt and Jesse Anderson
Podcasting Consultant: Darrell Darnell of Pro Podcast Solutions
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