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KC‑6.1.I.B.i (KC)
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Unit 6: Learning Objective D
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Video transcript

hello David hello Kim so I brought you here to talk about the Gilded Age which is one of my favorite eras of American history because everything was great and covered in gold no because it is the only era of American history I can think of that has a sarcastic name so what what's what's to be sarcastic about what's happening between so I see it's from 1865 to 1898 which is the end of the Civil War and then what happens in 1898 98 that's basically everyone woke up one morning and they were like yeah we're done with the Gilded Age now it's time for the Progressive Era hurray spanish-american war times more first the spanish-american war so the Gilded Age is kind of this period of really intense industrialization kind of focusing on America's development as an industrial and business power very inward looking whereas after the spanish-american war the United States takes a bigger role on the world stage the the sarcastic part of the Gilded Age is that this was a term coined by Mark Twain of all people in 1890 and he wrote a book called the Gilded Age and what would twine was trying to say was that the United States in this period wasn't experiencing a golden age right an era of prosperity and happiness but rather a Gilded Age oh so just like a thin layer of gold on top disguising the cheap tin beneath exactly oh snap train so what's going on in this era that earns this nickname like what is what is the appearance of you know fancy lovely gold that just turns out to be tacky and miserable well I think what people are talking about under the title of Gilded Age is that it's this time when immense wealth is accumulated by a number of individuals um you know many of whom still have their names on things today like Andrew Carnegie um Carnegie Mellon University or Carnegie Hall JP Morgan who was a banking magnate we still have JP Morgan as a fine Angell institution today and I would say a john d rockefeller is another he was the founder of Standard Oil so he was an oil baron Rockefeller Center right so these are the individuals who got enormous ly wealthy in the Gilded Age and they got wealthy by being the captains of these new expanding and industries items of industry titans of industry so steel and banking and oil but they got rich partly through political corruption so one one of the less than savory parts of the Gilded Age is that a lot of this was done through political kickbacks bribing of officials bribing of the vice president of the United States wait what the bribe the vice president that was a scandal that dogged the presidency of ulysses s grant credit mobili a was a construction company that had less than savory ties to some people very high up in government so this these fortunes of people like Carnegie and Morgan were built partly on political corruption and partly on the backs of waves of immigrant laborers like my ancestors like my ancestors and so you know during this time period in the eastern part of Europe in the southern part of Europe you know there were there were political eruptions there were just general poverty especially in Italy and in Russia there are a number of pilgrims which sent Russian Jews out of Russia and they came to the United States and you know they came from very bad situations so what they came to was a little bit better but it wasn't much better which is how they all ended up living in this one apartment in lower Manhattan and as you've detailed in this what is this a Jacob Riis photograph right okay so Jacob Riis was a photographer in the 1890s and he went around the Lower East Side of hatton basically just photographing what he called how the other half lives um and by the other half he meant immigrants the poor who were living in the Lower East Side of Manhattan which at that time was the most dense section of humanity on earth and you can see here that this is a photograph from a tenement that he took a picture of and what is it what does a tenement so tenements were these uh apartment dwellings which kind of sprang up often in the backyards of other normal buildings but they were sort of hastily constructed they had many rooms in them they weren't up to fire code I'm not even sure there was a fire code most of the rooms didn't have windows or electric lighting or ventilation it's like a great place to live one thing that doesn't have curb appeal Kim ah there are some pictures that can show you know most of them work next to giant rotting heaps of garbage oh boy one of my favorite things about the the story of Jacob Riis is that he was a pioneer in the field of photography because he used flash photography so you know you've seen in old movies those flash bulbs that go off right because that was the only way he could get these apartments to do there was no lighting in there there's no lighting in them so you couldn't take a picture of them without light so he brought his flash camera and he regularly set things on fire these apartments as he was trying to document what life was like so this this is a photograph by Rhys called five cents a spot and so you paid five cents a night to live in this apartment and if you count here there's one two three four five six I think this is somebody else's legs seven did I get everybody there might be somebody else hiding over here seven men sharing this room and they're just you know doing the best they can um and you compare that with this which is john d rockefeller mansion in New York it's called and I'm going to butcher this [ __ ] it so the real question of the Gilded Age is how is it that some people get so wealthy while some people are incredibly poor sure and whose responsibility is that right at one point so JPMorgan um decides he's going to buy out Andrew Carnegie he buys him out for more than four hundred million dollars he loans money to the US government so he is like the single biggest creditor to the US government at that point who has more power the federal government or JP Morgan so we're really talking about the the clash of like two great and terrible energies right like this immense wealth and this immense deprivation yeah how do they play out we'll get to that in some more videos