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tv   William Jennings Bryan House  CSPAN  August 3, 2016 12:31pm-12:40pm EDT

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bowel of lash thbor this crown thorns. you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold. >> bryan had this huge voice that you request hear all over the hall because in those days of course there weren't any microphones and loud speakers, et cetera. he was in a huge hall. most speakers couldn't be heard by a lot of people but bryan had this booming voice. so they could hear him. he gave this rousing speech, the final line being, thou shalt not crucify mankind on a cross of gold. because it was again, the main issue in that election, was the monetary policy and whether we stay on the gold standard or add silver to the money supply. after he made that speech, people got so excited, they carried him out on their shoulders and lo and behold, he was nominated as presidential
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nominee at the age of 36. the impact that bryan had on public policy in this country i think very few people realize the impact he had, both on the democratic party and on just policy in general. because when he came on the scene, the democratic party was the more conservative party and bryan was very much a liberal in his politics, very conservative in his religion, but very liberal in his politics. and he turned the party on its head and it's never gone back. he was really the predecessor to franklin roosevelt's new deal, and president johnson's great society. and the "wall street journal" did a feature article comparing obama to bryan. with the income redistribution philosophy of government. our profile of presidential candidates continues tonight on american history tv with a look
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at william jennings bryan, a three-time democratic presidential candidate around the turn of the century. he also served as secretary of state under president woodrow wilson. that's at 8:00 p.m. eastern time here on c-span3. coming up next on american history tv, author edward o'donnell talks about the growing economic inequality of the late 19th century, also known as the gilded age. he explores the role of henry george, a newspaper editor and reformer, who took up the fight against the separation of the classes on behalf of the labor movement. the gotham center for new york city history hosted this hour and 20 minute event. thank you very much. thank you, suzanne, thank you to the gotham center. thank you to all of you coming out tonight. i know some of you are saying republican debate, or henry
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george, republican debate, henry george. so i'm pretty gratified that you chose henry george. hopefully you'll be glad that you did. as a great thrill always to come back to new york and to come back to the gotham center, a place that i've done other talks and people that i've worked with. it is a really wonderful event, and particularly wonderful because i finally get to talk about this henry george book. let me just jump right in by showing you a photo. getting a little personal here. but that's me when i started this book. you may -- you may see that i don't look quite that young anymore. a little bit hairier and all. when i decided to write in book in graduate school, someone mentioned there is a henry george tree in central park. i said i did not know that. five days later i'm weak walking through central park -- it's 840 acres. bigger than monaco. it is a large piece of land. i reach down to tie my shoe and
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i -- i'm not kidding you -- tied my shoe next to the henry george tree. i thought i don't really believe in these cosmic signs but this was a cosmic sign of some sort. i'm on the right track, i better do it. we actually happened to have a camera with us, too, which was funny. i've been working on this so long that one of my daughters, who's now 25, used to ask me, daddy, when are you going to finish that or have you finished your book on curious george? so it has been a while. it's been a bit of an odyssey. i will not tell you anything except that life is what happens when you make firm plans. my first book is now out as my fourth book. it's thrilling to have it out. it is also in a strange way a better time for it to have come out. i wouldn't have planned it this way but it is a better time for it to come out because of the relevance of the topic and henry george and these very big questions that are dogging our society right now. i'll get started with this question about living in a
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second gilded age. i always resist that idea that history repeats itself. i think that's too simplistic. i think that mark twain had it right when he said history doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes. right? this second gilded age is not a replay of the first but there is an echo, a rhyme, a reflection of that earlier period. we see this in literature. look at some of the titles of these books. all have the titles "second gilded age" in the subtitle. all coming out in recent years asking this question about are we in a second gilded age and what does it mean. it is a pretty depressing thought to think that we're back in a second gilded age. but there are reasons i think to be optimistic which i'll talk about in just a few moments. so another reason -- another way that i like to talk about henry george, this fascinating figure from the 19th century, again making a connection to the present, from a lot of ways he is the thomas pickedy of our
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time. essentially, he, if you just take this one quotation from this book, he's essentially argueing the same point henry george did which is that extreme inequality of wealth can be harmful to growth because it reduces mobility and can lead to police cal capture by the super rich of our democratic institutions. so there is a lot to worry about when it comes to inequality. it is just that some people have a lot of stuff and some people have less stuff. it actually has very, very large implications for our society. let's begin, talk about who this guy, henry george was. henry george was born in 1839 to a middle class, lower middle class family. his father was a book manufacturer, book salesman. george grew up in a fairly large family, fairly reasonably comfortable. lot of people think because he wrote his famous book on poverty and talked about poverty a lot that he must have grown up in poverty. he actually experienced poverty in his middle years, fairly
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extreme. so henry george was not a very good student. he left school about the seventh grade. his parents just got fed up with it. his father steered him into a trade where he would learn the craft of typesetting which was a very important trade and great opportunity. so george flourished pass a typesetter but he was very ambitious. in the middle 1850s he headed out to california. he is a very ambitious guy, guy who hopes to make it big. he is not sure what but he has this idea that he's destined for something great. once he gets out to california he's -- trying things and failing and living hand to mouth and sleeping in barns and really experiencing poverty full on. and often on. he would succeed at something, and then fail. but the good thing is the printing trade always guaranteed him some kind of work. and it also got him into the door in journalism. he went from the typesetting
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room to doing a little bit of spot writing and editing, and eventually became a very successful editor out there in california for a whole bunch of different newspapers. started his own newspapers and so forth. but his life was very smult with us. even though he got married and had children he was sort of constantly doing well, riding on top of the world, then, crash, his newspaper would fail. or he would sell his newspaper in order to do something else, then that would fall through. so he had a lot of -- i forgot to advance the slide. there he is looking in his younger years at age 25 when he's out there on the make in california. his rise and fall is emblematic of the boom and bust economy. he's trying to figure out. on christmas eve, 1864, he's writing in his diary.


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