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Profs and Pints presents: “Make America Gilded Again?” with Allen Pietrobon, adjunct professor of modern American history at American University and visiting professor at Trinity Washington University.
Income inequality. Corporate monopolies. Technological change. Immigration. Deregulation. The working poor.
Nope, it’s America from 1875 to 1900, the period otherwise known as “The Gilded Age.” A crucial era of industrialization, it turned the United States into the most economically powerful country in the world. Its demand for unskilled workers attracted the largest wave of immigration in American history, with new arrivals from Europe and Asia pouring into rapidly expanding major cities.
Many enterprising Americans took advantage of economic “disruption” to succeed, with one result being an explosion of new consumer products. Others were left behind, ill-equipped to compete in the new economy. The wealth gap between the rich and the poor grew astronomical as industrial tycoons like the Rockefellers and the Carnegies built unthinkably large business empires and used their monopoly power to hold down wages, shut down competitors, and buy politicians. Strikes, labor violence, and protests and counter-protests bloodied the streets. Both domestic and foreign anarchist terrorists spread fear with waves of bombings and killings that the U.S. government seemed helpless to prevent. A nativist backlash led to calls to ban certain “dangerous” immigrant populations. New community organizations devoted to the preservation of “American values” sought to teach immigrants to shed old habits such as their consumption of “ethnic” foods like hamburgers and spaghetti.
Join award-winning professor Allen Pietrobon as he discusses the tumultuous Gilded Age and how it compares to today. The bar will be serving drinks from the Gilded Age. (Advance tickets $12. Door: $15, save $2 with student ID.)