tv Unrest and Reform in the Gilded Age CSPAN May 29, 2016 3:00pm-4:01pm EDT
>> on lectures in history, talks about the reforms that tried to combat discontent. he describes did -- between the governor him -- tensions between the government and workers. he also discusses how all levels of society sought to alleviate fears about rapid societal changes of the gilded age. return to nature movement as evidenced by the creation of urban park. begins with aes brief example of music. his class is about 50 minutes . ♪
>> welcome back, everybody. as you know we have been in the gilded age for some time now. we've already seen the technological innovations that made this economic expansion possible. we saw the economic transformations and the effect of those changes on the economy as far as lifestyles both for the very ritzy opulent robber baron lifestyles and also the very poor. whether it was the people living in the shacks of the new england mill towns or whether it was the increasing problems of housing
in the sanitation that came with this rapid and in many ways chaotic growth of the cities in the late 19th century. all of it accompanied by problems going along with immigration. we saw in particular there was some frustration with this new gilded age regime. as we talked about the farmers in this. that could have been called discontent in the gilded age part one. today we turn our attention mostly back towards industry and in some ways back toward the city as well. i want to look at different types of frustrations with this new order in america. we started with the song eight hours which was a popular labor anthem in the 1880's. you're the chorus eight hours
for work eight hours for rest eight hours for what we well. in some ways that song speaks what we will be talking about today. eight hours for work and eight hours for rest. we are talking about labor relations. we're talking about more broadly speaking clinical economy. we are talking about the potential for state regulations and these arguments over that. that is somewhat straightforward. what about eight hours for what we will. they say we want to feel the sunshine. we are not machines, we're human beings. we want to have a life outside of work.
even those on the top of this new gilded age are also in many ways growing anxious over this new world that is coming about. we look at economics. as with so much else, a lot of our story starts with the railroads. you have seen how much the transcontinental railroad changed the west. it didn't stop in 1869 when they drove the golden spike. they continue to build by the end of the century. there were four transcontinental railroads by the end of the century. there were all kinds of tributary lines to connect to different parts of the west to those main corridors. it seemed like a really good investment. the lion's share of the stocks on the new york stock exchange were not industrial stocks, they were railroad stocks. a lot of people scramble to get in on the ground floor. one of those projects was the northern pacific railroad.
the fellow who won the right to be the chief fundraiser for that project was jacob. a very well respected financier. he'd been a major financier of the union effort during the civil war. problem was this. investors were starting to realize in the 1870's that perhaps in our zeal for railroad building we had gone too far. maybe we are overbuilt. maybe the railroad bubble is about to first. all of a sudden jay cooke had trouble raising money. he had trouble getting a loan. people found that he was overextended. on september 18, 1873 he and his company declared bankruptcy. when cook went under a drag down under businesses and banks with him. a panic hit wall street. beginning september 20 the new york stock exchange which was heavily populated by railroad stocks closed for 10 days and
over the next two months 55 railroads went bankrupt. it didn't stop there. by 1874 25% of the nation's railroad's bonds were in default. it wasn't just railroads that were affected. over the following two years they were over 18,000 businesses that failed. many people including this cartoonist clung to the traditional view that ultimately this was a necessary evil. failure is part of the capitalist system and so we should see the panic as the cartoonist does as a sanitation officer cleaning all of the trash out of wall street. maybe so but in the meantime a lot of people have to suffer. in the meantime railroad
construction ground to a halt. unemployment skyrocketed in many sectors and in some cities unemployment was as high as 25%. joblessness remained rife for the next five years. at the same moment. people were starting to ask questions about whether or not the railroads should have so much power. within this new national economy. we saw the farmers asking these questions very loudly. here we see railroad tycoon william henry vanderbilt pictured as the modern colossus of railroads. along with some of his
colleagues cyrus field in the notorious jay gould. farmers considered their great control over the economy to be extortion. other groups were starting to feel this way as well. the political efforts of frustrated farmers and some allied industrialists led to early attempts at state intervention. in the early 1870's some states passed what we call the granger laws. they set maximum freight elevator rates. for bidding rate discrimination
against shortfalls. any urban consumers felt that the railroads were overcharging them. it was not just farmers who were frustrated. they created state railroad commissions to supervise and enforce this new regulatory regime. this happened in places like mile -- minnesota and iowa and illinois. it was there that the law was challenged by the firm of monday and scott. who were confused -- accused of having overcharged customers of the grain elevator in chicago. they challenge to the $100 fine and it went to the supreme court and 1877 by a seven-two majority the court under chief justice waite said that when private property was devoted to a public use is subject to public regulation. the doors open for the states to step in. don't consider this a long-term win for state regulation. in 1886 a 6-3 majority at the supreme court declared that under the commerce clause of the constitution states were forbidden to impose direct burdens on interstate commerce. illinois regulatory regime was considered a direct burden on a railroad which was considered interstate commerce and therefore state-level regulation was severely hampered moving forward after the wabash case. this along with a couple of other cases in the late 1880's extended the 14th amendment protections to corporations.
it acted to undermine the state regulation. that doesn't mean the public stopped being frustrated with the abuses of the railroads. public outrage over the wabash case led to the passage of the interstate commerce act by congress in 1887. it created the interstate commerce commission and it made its forbidden to have special rates for powerful shippers. you remember rockefellers scheme from a few weeks ago. there would be no rate discrimination against shortfalls. public inspection of rates. if you abuse the regulations, you could face up to a $5,000 fine. take that, vanderbilt. they weren't through. in 1890 growing public
frustration over the strength of the trust led congress to pass the sherman act of 1890. by 1890 several states have passed antitrust laws and now congress was joining the parade. the sherman act is important for us moving forward because it outlawed every contract and combination or conspiracy in restraint of trade again imposing a $5,000 fine. potentially also a year in prison. i don't want you to be misled. this hardly represents the foundation of a robust regulatory regime. for one thing, the president of the gilded age were generally uncomfortable with this stored at state intervention. they held to a more traditional
laissez-faire view. benjamin harrison sign to the law because it was in accord with public opinion but he didn't do too much to enforce it. the same could be said for his successors whether a democrat like grover cleveland over republican like william mckinley. in moments when the federal government did try to enforce it, they were smacked down by the courts. in 1895 the course defanged the sherman act when it came to industrial combinations. the court declared 8-1 that the sherman act did not apply to manufacturing monopolies. the company controlled more than 90% of the sector. certainly this is consolidation. they say production is not interstate commerce. that is something different.
they have narrowly defined the powers given to enforcement under the sherman act. it would be until the 20th century that the sherman act was used successfully against industrial monopolies, something we will talk about in a later lecture. it wasn't only the government and public opinion also workers who were growing frustrated with the demands of gilded age businessmen. like the public and the legislature, labor would be largely frustrated and its protests. the hard times of the agency of the meant less availability of work and less stability and at times harsh measures by management to try to keep their companies afloat. railroads in particular had tried to respond to the crises of the 1870's by cutting their
own rates in trying to outdo their competitors. how do they make up for the losses of these rates? they cut the workers wages. that led to a decade of mounting frustration by the workers. there were a series of strikes in 1876 and 1877. resenting the wage cuts, and the public opprobrium it was often heaped on the workers as they stood up for themselves, it was seen that railroads were a good and so if you strike against the railroad you are doing something especially evil. the workers began to resent all of this. it exploded in the summer of 1877. a new group struck against the baltimore and ohio railroad beginning in july 18 77. baltimore police broke up the first round of strikers.
then they took control of the key railroad junction in martinsburg west virginia. a battle between police and the mob required intervention by the militia. and eventually federal troops had to restore order. within days these kinds of schemes were wrapping around the country. in baltimore a mob tried to trap the militia in an armory. the militia fired and killed 10 people. in pittsburgh rioters burned railroads and destroyed the depot. while exchanging fire with troops. strikers in indianapolis seized control of the depot and halted all cars and trains except for ones carrying mail. by july 25th all the lines outside new england in the south are being affected one way or the other. you could feel the tension on streets around the country.
in chicago businessmen patrolled the streets cheering a potential revolution. in buffalo the revolution was underway. crowds swarmed the yard of the new york central. ultimately this great railroad strike of 77 collapsed. first of all the depression was still going on and was easy to find desperate people to work as strikebreakers. unemployment was still around 8%. some companies were fearful of continued strikes and continued chaos and were willing to negotiate. ultimately we can't call it a win for labor. if anything the press became increasingly indignant over this outburst of street action and they called on the states to
beef up their militias to put down future agitation. state-level militia units were enhanced and armories were constructed to prepare for the next events. meanwhile, conflagrations like those in the late 1870's caused many workers to ask a fundamental question. wouldn't this be more easily accomplished if we had some better organization? many of them turned to a fledgling organization the knights of labor. it started as a kind of secret society.
he was obsessed with all sorts of rituals and secret posts. after 1877, many workers became interested in organization and they looked to the knights. this was often spontaneous. they were never particularly effective recruiters. people were looking for organization so by 1882 they had 14,000. they were taken over by new leadership. he moved to the group away from ritual and toward reform. they began stressing monetary reform as we discussed last time. they began discussing an eight hour day. organizing for cooperatives among the workers. trying to gain state and local political influence. many within the knights of labor
again embracing the ideas of henry george who called for a single tax on land. what is interesting is their broad membership. this group was anomalous especially within labor. they were highly inclusive. they reached across lines of craft, scale, it was skilled and unskilled workers. immigrants and nativeborn workers. catholics and protestants in this organization. black members as well as white members. female members as well asmen. a very large and inclusive organization and they were building a lot of momentum in the 1880's.
they will have a precipitous decline however. a totally different ideal in labor will come to the fore. that is craft unionism. that is the american federation of labor, founded in 1886. their leader is samuel gompers. his papers are held in our library. they were not inclusive. they were focused on elite craftsman. this is strategic. the skilled craftsman have a little bit more leverage when it comes to negotiation. unskilled craftsman are replaceable but skilled workers are a little more valuable. they had much narrower goals.
the phrase the gompers spoke of was pure and simple unionism. we are going to get a better wage and shorter hours. were not trying to change the world. this more conservative elite unionism. they could survive the chaos we're going to talk about now. in the meantime, the 1880's would see recapitulations of many of the troubling themes of the 1870's. a major economic panic, this one in 1884. followed by an industrial downturn and labor troubles. the great upheaval. a sporadic series of events. as successful strike by unorganized railroad workers against the union pacific railroad. the railroad capitulated within two days. workers said now that we are on a roll let's join the knights of labor. let's make this a permanent fixture.
in june 1884 we saw the beginning of a major mine strike. 4000 workers went out on strike and it lasted six months. what noteworthy is that once again taught them the usefulness of coordination. if you go on strike you don't get paid. the strike doesn't last very long because you have to eat. they were able to organize a strike fund. it enabled them to keep this fight up for six months. the value of organization. then came a major strike against the missouri pacific railroad. they were trying to have a pay cut. most of that network was owned by our friends jay gould and
others. the governors of nebraska and kansas intervened on behalf of the workers which tells us more about jay gould that it does about the governors. jay gould gave back the pay cut. once again workers saw value in the organization. this led to growth for the knights of labor. by 1886 they had 700,000 members. this would be their highwater mark. the first of several very famous the very telling episodes within american labor relations. an explosion in the gilded age. that is the haymarket affair. there was a strike at the mccormick works on may 3, 1886.
they were calling for an eight hour day. at least two workers were killed by police. there were anarchists in chicago. they said this violence to us is a wonderful example of our broader critique of american capitalism and we want to take advantage of this moment to use this tragedy in order to demonstrate to people the validity of our arguments. so they called for protests. beginning may 4. protests were well attended by the working classes especially german immigrants. there was a large turnout. it was peaceful by all accounts. the rhetoric was relatively tame. according to the relatively tame mayor of chicago, carter harrison, a lot of people were deciding that things were ok and
it was time to go home. but it wasn't. what happened next at the rally, someone through a pipe bomb. a policeman was killed. the policeman began to fire. a shootout ensued. six police and four protesters were killed in the crossfire. we never figured out who threw the pipe bomb. we knew who to blame. the anarchists. these germans, these radicals. four of them were executed. others received long prison sentences. one committed suicide. in the 1890's john peter altgeld the new governor of illinois and
himself german born pardoned three surviving anarchists. basically saying the whole thing has been a travesty of justice. we still don't know who threw the pipe bomb. we know it wasn't them. the resulting fear of radicalism led to increasing anti-labor sentiment nationwide. 1892 was a. we could've picked any number with many major incidents. in new orleans there was a general strike that went on and on. 25,000 workers.
dozens of different organizations. lack workers and white workers in new orleans. a major incidents in the coal mining fields of eastern illinois. the coal creek wars. tennessee miners protested against the use of convict labor is being used to undermine their wages. they protested by arming themselves and burning down the stockade where the convicts were being held. releasing a lot of the prisoners. the militia came in. homestead pennsylvania. and andrew carnegie's steelworks. they are trying to organize and to join a national group known as the amalgamated iron and steel workers.
at one point in his career andrew carnegie had favored the principle of collective bargaining but it was hitting a little too close to home now. and so he changed his mind. he did not become a great innovator and billionaire but -- by being a fool. he prudently decided this battle was not for him. he left it to henry clay frick. he declared that he would not negotiate with his union. he fortified the steel plant. but this was not the end of the story. the workers armed themselves, captured the plant, argued themselves inside. -- barricaded themselves inside. frick had another move to make. he hired a notorious group known as the pinkerton guards. they are politely referred to as a detective agency but they were really mercenaries.
they came lumbering up the monongahela river on their barges. it didn't quite work out. when they arrived a brawl ensued. nine workers and one guard were killed. the people of homestead were on the side of the workers. these are our families, our customers, our neighbors. they chased them out of town. they couldn't sleep by their barges because they burn to the barges. the haymarket affair, local law enforcement had ultimately been effective in stopping the radicals. this could be the case this time because the mayor, the sheriff, they are on the side of the workers. in fact, public opinion by and large was on the side of the workers. that is not the end of the
story. in the meantime, an anarchist named alexander berkman brewed -- broke into frick's office and shot him twice and repeatedly berkman, however, is one of the great failures in assassination history. not only did he fail to kill frick, he also undermined the strikers for whom he was professing sympathy. because in many ways, public opinion saw this outburst of radical violence as a discredit to the union movement. and while some public opinion remained with the workers, there was enough shift that there was political cover to move up in the level of government. not local, but state. so the governor of pennsylvania had the state militia go in, and workers were extricated from the plant, strikebreakers were brought in, and there would not
be successful long-term unionization of the steelworkers until the late 1930's. episode 3, two years later, pullman illinois. , the context is the depression. we talked about it in the context of the farmers last time. it started in 1893. 1894,at meant is that in there was a lot of labor frustration. almost 1400 strikes, and a record-breaking 505,000 workers out on strike that year. pullman, illinois, is one of these company towns and we've talked about company towns. as company towns go compared to , the unheated shacks with little water supply that we have seen in mine country or the
textile towns in new england, pullman was a relatively nice company town by all reports. the housing was decent standard, there were libraries and parks. mr. pullman saw himself as sort of a patriarchal figure. indeed he referred to his , workers as his children. this ended up being a problem. in the town of pullman, what do they make? they make pullman cars, sleeper cars for trains. so you work in his factory, you live in his town, where he owns everything, you shop in his stores, you pay rent to mr. pullman, and, all right, it all seems relatively decent standard of living as killed it age stand -- gilded age standards of living go for the working class. but then came the depression.
mr. pullman decided he needed to help the company's bottom line and he called for a major wage cut, up to 30%. the rent was going to remain the same. he is your boss, but he is also your landlord. so how are you going to argue? the rent was already exorbitant because compared to similar rental properties in that region, he was charging about 15% to 20% more. not only is he not lowering the cost, he is also cutting their wages. he said this was for the good of the company. but consider this. they paid $2.8 million worth of dividends. they were supposed to be losing money. the dividends they paid that year were higher than the dividends they had paid in the previous year. so while there was a real problem and production was down, it is not as though the company
was on the verge of collapse. so the workers tried to negotiate. they sent in a grievance committee. mr. pullman listened to what they have to say. he said, that is very interesting, you guys are fired. this offended the workers, as you can imagine, and it led to a strike. a walkout beginning may 11. this would have been one of the thousand-plus strikes of that year, except it got bigger, because the workers of pullman were aligned with a national group, the american railway union, and they had the support and sympathy of its president, debs and thes, and union called for a secondary strike. switchmen, railroad workers around the country, will refuse to switch any pullman cars into a train. you have 40,000 plus rail
workers around the country saying this, it starts to get serious. train networks were being shut down around the country they tried not to obstruct female, because they did not -- they tried not to obstruct the mail, because they did not want to run afoul of the federal government. but management was quite smart in how they handle this. they said simply if the train is , not complete, we are not running it. then they went to the federal government and explained that the unionists were being obstructionists and the federal government started to take notice at the action going on. in chicago at haymarket, it was local authorities. this was too big to be handled by local authorities. at homestead, it had been the state. in illinois, the governor is sympathetic to labor.
this time, it was going to be federal intervention. the justice department went to court, they got an injunction against the strikers. the strike continued. debs was arrested for contempt of court. meanwhile, the president had to act because the strike continued. the president is still grover cleveland. we got to know him last time. the mail is being disrupted. management tells us it is the fault of the workers. george pullman is a friend of mine, by the way. don't forget cleveland is like the other gilded age presidents pro-business, , pro-management. they get the injunction based on two matters. they are interrupting federal
delivery of the mail. this is viewed by the courts and the justice department as an illegal conspiracy in restraint of trade. these fellows are in violation of the sherman antitrust act and so the injunction is granted and the union does not back down and we have to send in the army. thousands of u.s. soldiers. the fighting took place, dozens were killed. the supreme court -- the strike got broken up, obviously. the following january, the supreme court ruled that the government was right. they were violating the law. so this gives great power to those seeking injunctions from courts against labor in the future. in all of these cases, a lot of americans knew who was to blame.
it was the workers, the radicals, but also groups we talked about a week ago. it was these outsiders, these newcomers, these immigrants. so it is not just that we can blame the immigrants in the city for undermining american democracy. it is not just that we can blame the immigrants for challenging american religious traditions or challenging the cultural standards with their saloons and beer halls. but also, who is to blame for a crime and for anarchists and socialists, the answer is quite clear if you read this cartoon. it is the russian anarchist the , german socialist, the polish vagabond, the irish pauper, and so forth and so on. so class and ethnicity, not for
the first time in american history, but to an increasingly powerful extent, were being conflated, intertwined, and this was going to be very potent weaponry. against both the foreigners and the labor activists, for decades to come, as you'll see. in the meantime, i started out saying this was not all about the workplace, not all about the economy. some of the discontent in the gilded age was social in nature. you can understand this. when you work in a factory, you have no control. right? no control over what your work schedule looks like. in the mill towns, they literally ring bells to drag you out of bed in the morning, and
again. they control your life. you don't set your schedule the way you did when you were a peasant back in europe before you emigrated. you don't get to spend much time out of doors. you don't get a lot of access to nature. you don't make your own schedule. you don't have any sense of craftsmanship in what you're doing. when you combine this in many cases with living in a very large city, where entire life, though probably fascinating, could be confined in a world of a few dozen blocks, and remember that the world, as we have read and observed, could be a very dark, dirty, diseased world, frustrating, stifling world, you start to understand why people would grow discontented with this arrangement. so there were certain solutions that were proposed.
one response to this was a push for recreation. saidmers in the gilded age -- and we will get to know them well in future lectures -- they said they believed urban dwellers would benefit immensely from access to playgrounds and parks and beaches, like this beach we see here being enjoyed by some of the immigrant textile workers we met in previous textures -- lectures. so one response to the discontent, or the potential discontent of the cooped up urban dweller, was the rise of recreation and urban parks. it had been going on for many decades. they didn't invent parks in the gilded age. the most famous of those parks, central park in new york, began construction in its modern form ,n the frederick olmsted completed in 1873.
more parks would follow. this push for outdoor breathing spaces for the urban masses would become even more vehement. while we have green spaces, we also need to make sure we're keeping everybody fit and active. if they are physically active, that will keep them out of trouble on the one hand. and if they are physically fit, -- if they are morally fit, that will help them avoid the saloon potentially. sought all sorts of means of keeping the masses from getting bored and lethargic and of encouraging them to stay healthy, both physically and morally. this, in turn, led to the increasing popularity of athletics.
sports were a way to bring order to people, to organize people not only into community organizations, but also to keep them fit at the same time and to develop a sense of pride in your group, in your church, in your union. in your town's team, or in your school's team, which is very important then and now. this is a transnational phenomenon. this is not only american. historians can tell you the same story about soccer clubs in britain and europe, cricket clubs and so forth. arising in the same period. in our case, it is very important. this is a time when baseball in its modern form starts to get organized and formalized in the years after the civil war. and basketball is invented in -- by dr. james naismith in 1891 at a ymca in springfield,
massachusetts. we start to have college football. the first college football game took place in 1869 between princeton and rutgers. rutgers won 6-4. if that ever comes up. was game, like our game, very violent, but theirs was far worse. no helmets, plenty of unnecessary roughness, no notion of unnecessary roughness. the game came close to being banned a couple of times. but there was a presidential commission to discuss the carnage taking place on the college football fields. indeed, carnage is the right word for it. in the year that the president held this commission, 1905,
there were as many as 45 deaths on college football field. one historian estimates that in -- that was in the five years leading up to the commission. in 1905 itself, it was estimated that college football games produced 18 deaths and 159 catastrophic injuries. so he needed to do something to organize this and make it less bloody. they worked on that. it wasn't only the working classes who found the modern society banal. and sought outlets for their constrained energy. the upper classes and intellectuals in the gilded age became increasingly disenchanted with their -- the weightlessness of their society. many of them suffered from an
incredibly vague but increasingly popular disorder called neurasthenia, which consisted of anxiety, fatigue, depression, stress, impotence, headaches. the diagnosis depended heavily on who you were. if you were of the working you are whining about these things, you were either lazy or insane. dissolution either way was for you to star for the institutionalized -- starve or be institutionalized. if you were a woman, you are hysterical and you need to be locked up in as plaintiff a room as possible -- plain room as possible. you read about this in "the yellow wallpaper." from 1892. but for a lot of people, male and female, these symptoms might mean you are suffering from nerve weakness. there was a neurologist named
george miller beard and he identified this order as a symptom of modern life. it was caused by this faster pace. this unnaturally fast pace. many things, but especially above all it was caused by , modern technology. technology was not natural, and it is degrading us in our biology. beard's solution was a regimen of electrical shock. happily other physicians called , for bed rest or isolation. to a lot of intellectuals, if this burnout is a symptom of modernity, our solution is to embrace anti-modernism. so they wanted something more than the superficial consumerism, the secularized drive for material gain.
so many of them rejected modern society in favor of any number of more basic alternatives. simple return to "the life," a return to craftsmanship, a return to in some cases medieval style religious devotion, a return to ancientnew turn to the religious practices of the far east. things,icization of all as they would have said at the time, "oriental." so they turned to alternatives to their modern society. oftentimes in a bizarre way. but it gives you insight into their frustration with the society. for many of them, including the president i did not name but was referring to in the football discussion, for many of them self exertion was the tonic of choice. theodore roosevelt was a young,
sickly, delete old money -- elite of money boy. his solution to all this was the vigorous life, particularly time spent in the great outdoors. so in his very famous attempts to invigorate himself and his class, theodore roosevelt would hike mountains, hunt big game, engage in cattle ranching in the badlands, lead military units, and encourage his fellow white man to procreate as much as possible. these were some of his solutions, this vigorous life. the neurotics from elite or confused, overwhelmed intellectuals, they may seem trivial when compared to the labor strikes and economic turmoil of the late 19th century. indeed, to a large extent they
are. but the point here is that elites were just as interested in using central park and other parks for themselves as they were in creating the park as an outlet to prevent discontent among the lower sort. we see them enjoying central park here. the point, in other words, is that during the gilded age there was disenchantment coming from all directions. from those who needed a break, from the monotony of industrial the, from those who feared moral or social implications of an increasingly restless working-class, from businesses who found themselves abused by monopolies, from states who found themselves powerless to stop monopolies, from workers
who were constantly finding themselves being crushed by monopolies, and other companies as well, and also from those gilded agetop of the social hierarchy, who found their society increasingly vacuous and unsatisfying. we're not done with the gilded age yet. we have been away from the south for some time now, so next time, when we will return we will turn our gaze back to dixie and observe their peculiar version of a gilded age. have a wonderful weekend. .urn your papers in have a wonderful weekend.
>> interested in american history tv? visit our website, www.c-span.org/history. you can watch recent programs -- american artifacts, lectures in history, and more at www.c-span.org/history. >> with congress in recess next week, american history tv programs are airing in prime time on c-span3. look for history features each night, including a three-day vietnam war summit from the lyndon b. johnson presidential library, a 50th anniversary retrospective on the conflict. monday, the first major engagement of the war. then, the soldier's battle after the war with physical and psychological trauma, and a conversation with henry kissinger. >> as the administration went on, a president who all his life as concernedn
primarily with domestic policy was engulfed in a division of the country that in a way has lasted to this day. authors and historians on how america was divided over the war, and then a conversation with filmmakers ken burns and the novak. time we got to where the historical triangulation could take place, when we got to the distance necessary not to just make a reactive or journalistic response, but something that is hopefully greater than the sum of its parts, you begin to realize almost everything you thought you knew was not true. >> wednesday, a look at the war from the perspective of those who fought it, and u.s. foreign relations after the war and those with vietnam. our "real america" series looks at the 1975 church committee
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friends i have made the previous summer,ers, the next the summer of 1965, and once again i was sitting in the outer thece of senator cooker's, reception area of senator cooker's office, hoping to get a chance to see him. he walks out, grabs me by the arm and says, i will take you to something really important. we come over to the rotunda, and there i am, in the back of the room, watching linden days johnson -- lyndon baines johnson signed the voting rights act of 1965. i had a better seat than i did for the martin luther king speech. one more anecdote you might be interested in. rotunda.i was in the we were celebrating the 100th
anniversary of the birth of lbj, and i met lucy johnson, who i had never met before. i said, lucy, i was here on the day your dad signed the voting rights act. she said, i was, too. i'm sure nobody knew i was here, but everybody knew that you were there. she told me, your dad said, get in the car, i will take you to the capitol. on the way down, she explained to her that every person will be beside him when they signed the bill. she said, daddy, why would you want a republican here for this? he said, it is important the american people understand this was done on a bipartisan basis, and the american people will be much more likely to accept what we are doing if we know both sides are involved.
that is the story that lucy told me on lbj's 100 birthday. >> you have talked about your internships in the house and senate. when did the interest in politics could started for you? >> probably high school. i ran for president of the student body in high school. if i lost, i might have done something else. >> and was it, was there a mentor? or you following politics? >> i just got interested. my fifth grade picture, you know those mugshots every year, my fifth grade picture i had a "i like ike" button on. >> you were in kentucky? >> i was in georgia. there were not many republicans. my father served in world war ii as a foot soldier under eisenhower, and decided to vote for eisenhower. obviously he did not carry any southern states, but my dad was a great admirer of his commander, so i sort of began to
identify with republicans a little bit. four years later, we were in kentucky, and, you know, even though it was a democratic state, republicans occasionally won i began to identify with republicans, and i decided to for a shot at it, running president of the student body in college. >> you can watch this or any other american artifacts program at any time by visiting www.c-span.org/history. we are in today effect catching up with the 20th century. we have been the invisible half of the congress the past seven years. we have watched our house colleagues with interest. at least i have with interest. coverage members of our colleagues in the house. >> today as the u.s. senate comes out of the communications dark ages, we create another
historic moment in the relationship between congress and technological advancements in communications, through radio and television. >> 50 years ago, our executive branch began appearing on television. today marks the first time when our legislative branch in its entirety will appear on that medium of communication through which most americans get their information about what our government and our country does. >> the televising of senate chamber proceedings also represents a wise unwarranted policy. broadcast media coverage recognizes the basic right and need of the citizens of our nation to know the business of their government. >> thursday, c-span marks the 30th anniversary of our live gavel-to-gavel senate floor coverage on c-span2. special programming features key moments from the senate floor from the past 30 years. >> i would show to you the body
of evidence from this question. do you trust william jefferson clinton? >> we have just witnessed something that has never before happened in all of senate history. a change of power during a session of congress. >> what the american people still don't understand in this bill is those three areas in this bill that in the next five years will put the government in charge of everybody's health care. >> and an interview with senate majority leader mitch mcconnell. >> i'm sure i made a number of mistakes in my political career, but voting against having c-span televised was one of them. >> and remarks from donald richie and parliamentarian emeritus alan truman. the senate on of television. to see more, go to www.c-span.org.