American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism, 1865-1900
In this grand-scale narrative history, two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist H. W. Brands brilliantly portrays the emergence, in a remarkably short time, of a recognizably modern America.
American Colossus captures the decades between the Civil War and the turn of the twentieth century, when a few breathtakingly wealthy businessmen transformed the United States from an agrarian economy to a world power. From the first Pennsylvania oil gushers to the rise of Chicago skyscrapers, this spellbinding narrative shows how men like Morgan, Carnegie, and Rockefeller ushered in a new era of unbridled capitalism. In the end America achieved unimaginable wealth, but not without cost to its traditional democratic values.
carried her critique of other aspects of life in the South. She didn’t hesitate to challenge black leaders when she thought they fell shy of their obligations to the race; her own criticism of members of the black clergy was what disposed her to congratulate Booker Washington for his efforts in that regard. The owners of a Memphis paper, the Free Speech and Headlight, offered her a regular writing position; she countered with the condition that they accept her as co-owner and equal partner. When
the trusts he proposed to revise the tariff. The objects of his attack—the producers of nearly every protected item on the list of thousands—screamed in pain, predicted the ruin of the economy, and vowed revenge at the ballot box. But Wilson and the Democrats plunged ahead, effecting the first serious reduction of the tariff in twenty years. As a third prong of his anti-capitalist offensive, Wilson rewrote the rules of antitrust policy. For all the symbolism of the breakup of Standard Oil, other
nervous enough already; Hayes wanted to calm things, not stir them up. “Tell the President a call for volunteers will precipitate a revolution,” a correspondent from Cincinnati wrote John Sherman, Hayes’s secretary of the Treasury. “Tell him I speak advisedly.” Besides, as the man who had just ended the military occupation of the South, Hayes hardly wanted to be known as the one who initiated the occupation of the North.30 So he bided his time. And as he did, the strike began to run out of
matters soon proved, saw the road as a speculation, Vanderbilt perceived it as an investment—a property to be held and improved rather than pillaged and sold. Vanderbilt’s interest in the Harlem helped drive the share price up. The price rose further when Vanderbilt persuaded—probably through bribery, the commonest mode of persuasion in the New York politics of Tammany Hall—the city council to let the Harlem extend its line south from Union Square, its previous terminus, to Wall Street and the
warning to us,” Powell wrote, “and we resolve on great caution.” But not great enough. With each hazard overcome, the men gained self-assurance, till the rising curve of their confidence intersected the constantly falling curve of the river bed. The boats were maneuvering to shore above another falls when one of the boats passed the point of no return. The current grew too strong for the oars of the crewmen and the vessel was swept into the maelstrom. Powell on the shore watched in helpless