Lectures on the Gilded Ages vs the Internet Age

1. The railroad connected every region of the United States as a network of commerce, communications, and transportation. Areas of the country that were once seen as nearly impossible to reach were now intimately connected to the more populated areas of the country. The Internet Revolution similarly connected the globe as one network of information, entertainment, and communication. Areas that once were devoid of reliable sources of information/communication to the rest of the world are now connected.

2. The railroad changed perceptions of time and distance, with the speed of the train cars far exceeding that of the traditional horse and buggy or wagon train. The Internet changed perceptions of time, distance, and breadth of knowledge. Internet access broke the barrier of distance in attaining knowledge, but also opened minds to areas of study and resources that were not conceivable in the past.

3. The railroad created disorientation and psychological disorder among the passengers of the rails. The speed of the train cars, along with the uncertain safety of the cars themselves and the configuration of the car’s seating, created many cases of psychological and physiological disorders. The Internet has created a similar disorientation, with the overwhelming speed of internet connections overwhelming many and creating isolation from traditional social relationships.

4. Financial strength in the 19th century was held in the hands of a few monopolies (Standard Oil, US Steel) and smaller business within major industries that tried to imitate these monopolies. In the late 20th century, while monopolies were not legal, many companies toed the line between legal business and the monopolization of industries like computer software, pharmaceuticals, and electronics.

5. The term millionaire came about during the Gilded Age only because there were people who could fit into this category. A significant few made a majority of the wealth on land deals, railroads, oil, and construction in the West. Billionaires were made of the tech stock craze, with the massive growth of the computer software industry and related technology industries.

6. Gilded Age farmer and laborers were exploited by the new millionaires, having been conned into bad land deals, deep debt, and a state of political alienation. Internet Age employees and laborers also were exploited by those involved in bad market management, stock manipulation, and general accounting ineptitude.

7. Businesses became involved with politics in the Gilded Age, beginning the modern age of politics in America. Presidents and Congressmen relied on businessmen to fund their campaigns as well as to provide financial support to a government that was in financial trouble for many years following the Civil War. The Internet Age has seen the massive increase in special interest lobbying and funding by groups with vested interest in political elections at all levels of economic development.

8. In both the Gilded Age and Internet Age, slanderous campaigning and negative campaigns against political opponents had become common place. In the Gilded Age, it was mostly by newspaper editors and writers who satirized Presidents and Congressmen for their ineptitude and physical attributes. With the expansion of television networks and the increase in availability of news access to the general public, politicians have attacked each other based on past comments, voting histories, and errors in personal life.

Industry Comes of Age: 1865-1900

1) The Gilded Age versus the Internet Age

2) Consequence of the Railroad Revolution
a. Continuance of industrial failures in the South
i. Economic Mason-Dixon Line
ii. What industries worked in the South?
b. Loss of the Jeffersonian Ideal
c. Change in quality of living
i. Increased wages, increased excess, better economic situation for the upper and middle class
ii. Increased dependence on corporations and real wages, dependency on work schedule in shaping life, decreased job security
d. Increase in environmental damage, beginning of conservation movement
e. New opportunities for women
i. Portrayals of women in press
ii. New technology that provides white collar work

3) Labor and the Movement toward Solidarity
a. Why unionize? Why now?
i. Loss of jobs to machines
ii. Loss of jobs to increased immigrant labor pool
iii. Inability to exact change individually against high powered corporations
iv. Attempt to educate the public on the plight of the industrial worker
1. Unionization was seen as unpatriotic, foreign, socialist, ungrateful, and irresponsible (personal responsibility, according to the wealthy 1%, affected economic status)
b. The Three Phases of Unionization
i. Infancy- The National Labor Union (1866)
ii. Adolescence- Knights of Labor (1869)
iii. Adulthood- American Federation of Labor (1886)
c. Leaders of the Unionization Movement
i. Terence Powderly, the Idealistic Visionary
ii. “Mother” Jones, the Fiery Activist
iii. Samuel Gompers, the Pragmatist
d. Response to Labor
i. Industry
ii. The General Public

Populism: The Last Gap for Rural Reform Politics

1. The Populist movement started in Texas around the time of the 1873 Panic, in the form of the Farmer’s Alliance. The Alliance was seeking to respond to: a) the economic problems inherent in the Panic, b) increasing mortgages on farms and reliance on the dubious credit system, c) lack of sympathy by either of the major political parties.

2. The Farmer’s Alliance attempted to circumvent the credit system by collective purchasing of goods, form a voting bloc to encourage one of the major parties to hear their pleas, and spread the message of farmer solidarity through a lecture system, which spread from coast to coast but stayed mostly in the Southern part of the United States (industry and the labor movement remained separate from the farmer’s movement for the most part)

3. 1886-1890- Alliances throughout the South hold conventions, begin move from nonpartisan lobby group towards establishment of a third party (locally and nationally)

4. 1890- Populists (name of the coalition of Farmer’s Alliances and smaller state farm groups) take Republican seats overwhelmingly in several states, gaining four Senate seats and five House seats in the US Congress among the thousands of seats gained in state legislatures.

5. 1892- People’s Party established nationally, General James Weaver nominated, attempts to travel to every state and make thousands of speeches, places third in general presidential election, getting 22 electoral votes

6. People’s Party falls apart quickly following 1892, dying out with the infiltration of old Democratic and Republican ties and the argument between party loyalists (“midroaders”) and those who wanted to make agreements with the old parties in order to get some of their platform into law (“fusionists”)

7. 1920 census- Urban population more than rural population for 1st time ever, perceptions start to change about place of rural America in national politics.

Lecture: Cold War/Problems in Global Context

1. Number of geopolitical issue came to the forefront following World War II
a. European colonization in Africa, Asia (colonization or revolution)
b. Russian Revolutionary Politics (revolutions of 1905, 1917)
c. Arab nationalism against Europe (rebellion against League of Nations mandates)
d. Diverse nature of Latin American politics
2. Yalta Conference of 1945- Russia promises self determination for Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Poland); US takes strong stand on Japan but gives in on Manchuria
-fault lines set up for ideological conflict in World War II (United States and Russia uneasy relations during postwar conferences, including the veil of nuclear weaponry and the issue of Eastern European control)

3. Issue of Berlin-Russians try to force out Allies by stopping resource, Berlin Airlift allows four power occupancy until 1990

4. Marshall Plan (1947)- US rebuilding of Europe, allows US hand in building lasting democracy and securing allies against Communism

5. NATO (1949) and Warsaw Pact-rival defense schemes

6. Korea (1950)- US and Russia set up rival governments, North Korea crosses 38th parallel; begins war, US participates in police action, July 1953 Panmunjam armistice

7. Fall of Dienbienphu (1954)- French defeated and sent away, Geneva conference splits Vietnam at 17th, North is communist under Ho Chi Minh, South under Ngo Dinh Diem

8. Suez Canal Crisis (1956)- President Nasser takes over French-English owned Suez Canal, cutting off oil to Western Europe; Communists were in line to acquire canal but conflict force Nasser to hold control

9. Castro Revolution of Cuba (1959)- close threat to US and Western powers for communism, influence of Latin America

10. Eisenhower Doctrine (1957)- aid to Middle East threatened by communism

11. Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile Crisis (1961-62)

Lecture: American Domestic Policies of Truman and Eisenhower

1. Harry Truman
a. reluctant politician, humble background
b. Truman’s frustration with labor and economic issues
-strikes of 1945, high war debt, high defense spending
c. Truman’s Program
-increased minimum wage
-projects similar to Tennessee Valley Authority
-desegregation of armed forces
-permanent Fair Employment Practice Commission
(All proved to be failures)
d. Successes outside the program
-Presidential Succession Act
-22nd Amendment

2. Election of 1948
a. Thomas Dewey-Republican
b. Strom Thurmond- State’s Rights (Dixiecrats)
c. Henry Wallace- Progressives
d. Truman defied expectations and won first full term

3. Presidential Election of 1952
a. Eisenhower becomes standard bearer for war-weary Americans
b. Adlai Stevenson-Democrats
(GOP was going to win because of disfavor with Democrats (Truman 32% final approval rating)

4. Eisenhower Domestic Issues
a. Civil rights movement-Brown versus Board of Education
b. 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott
c. 1957 Little Rock integration
d. 1957 Civil Rights Act
(Eisenhower lukewarm on civil rights-state rights issue, need to have stability in leadership during Cold War)
e. Highway creation and improvement

Lecture: The 1970s

1. Richard Nixon 1968-1974
-Vietnamization (1969)
-withdraw US troops, keep advisors and supplies but allow Vietnamese to fight war
-Visit to China (1972)
-brought detente (relaxed tension) about slow warming of relations with China for future
-Watergate (1972-74)
-failed break in at Democratic Party HQ, “enemies list,” revelation of Nixon Oval Office tapes, resignation of VP Spiro Agnew to impropriety as governor of Maryland, resignation of Nixon on August 8, 1974

2. Gerald Ford 1974-76
-pardon of Nixon
-collapse of South Vietnamese defense in 1975, question of how United States came out on war (lost or won war? What influence on development of region thereafter? What effect of public protest of war?)
-Helsinki Conference (1975) (35 nations)
-recognition of USSR-set East European boundaries
-liberalized exchanges of ideas and information
-grain and technology traded to USSR
-many complaints by US, but everyone else felt satisfied, cooled US relations to USSR

3. Jimmy Carter 1976-80
-Camp David Accord (1978)-Israel and Egypt promise further peace talks, recognition of pre-1967 borders
-Economic Problems and Energy Issues
-OPEC major increase in price of oil-increased foreign expenditure, start of nation as net consumer of oil (could not practice economic isolation)
-massive increase in deficit
-increased interest rate
-Carter diagnosed as issue of oil dependency
-Iranian Hostage Crisis
-Muslim fundamentalist revolt January 1979
-November 4 1979 militants take hostages at embassy in Tehran
-USSR invades Afghanistan
-Carter-1st tried economic sanctions, tried and failed
-rescue mission, one of the last acts under Carter was negotiating release of hostages

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