American Colossus : The Triumph Of Capitalism, 1865- 1900 by H W Brands
View book: American Colossus : The Triumph Of Capitalism, 1865- 1900
From the award-winning historian and author of Our First Civil War comes a compelling account of the rapid transformation of America from a rural society to a global powerhouse. American Colossus chronicles the pivotal years between the Civil War and the early 1900s, during which a handful of immensely wealthy individuals reshaped the nation’s economic landscape. Through captivating storytelling, the book explores how figures such as Morgan, Carnegie, and Rockefeller spearheaded a revolution in capitalism, propelling the United States into unprecedented prosperity.
Intriguingly, American Colossus delves into pivotal moments in American history, including the discovery of Pennsylvania oil fields and the rise of towering skyscrapers in Chicago. It presents a vivid portrait of how these ambitious titans of industry leveraged their power and influence to shape a new era of unchecked capitalism. Yet, their accomplishments came at a price, as America’s traditional democratic principles were challenged by the immense wealth accumulated by a select few.
Overall, American Colossus offers a captivating narrative that illuminates the remarkable journey of America’s transformation into a global economic superpower. With meticulous research and compelling storytelling, this book provides valuable insights into the triumphs and trade-offs associated with one of the most defining periods in American history.
The Gold Panic: Jay Gould’s Attempt to Corner the Market
**The Gilded Age: An Era of Speculation and Corruption**
Glad to have you here! Last night, I was talking about the Gilded Age, an era in American history that spanned from the late 1860s to the 1890s. It was a time of significant changes and rapid growth in the country. If you look at photographs from that period, you can see that America looked very different than it does now.
One of the major themes during this time was the manipulation of the American money supply. Until the 1860s, the American currency was based on gold and silver. But during the Civil War, the government began to print paper dollars, also known as ‘greenbacks.’ These greenbacks were not backed by gold or silver like the previous currency, they were simply printed by the government. People could no longer exchange these greenbacks for gold or silver at the banks.
This dual currency system caused a lot of speculation in the market. People could bid up or down the prices of gold and greenbacks, depending on their predictions about the war and the economy. This speculation was especially intense during September 1869. Jay Gould, a young Wall Street trader, and Jim Fisk, the director of the Erie Railroad, attempted to corner the gold market. They wanted to drive up the price of gold to boost exports and business. However, this plan led to a financial panic, known as Black Friday, when the price of gold suddenly fell.
As a result of the panic, the stock market also plummeted, and the economy took a nosedive. There were investigations by Congress into the manipulation of the money supply, and it was discovered that Gould and Fisk had been selling gold behind each other’s backs. The panic had far-reaching consequences and revealed the flaws in the financial system at the time.
The story of Jim Fisk doesn’t end there. He was involved in a love triangle with Josie Mansfield, who eventually left him for Ned Stokes. Fisk sought revenge on Stokes by ruining him financially. The complicated love affair and subsequent murder trial make for an intriguing story that will be covered in my upcoming book.
The Gilded Age was a time of immense speculation and corruption. It showcased both the successes and flaws of capitalism, and the challenges faced by the young democracy. The era shaped American history in significant ways. However, despite its flaws, the period also brought about great progress and marked the beginning of the modern America we know today.
Stay tuned for more updates on my book and the fascinating story of the Gilded Age!