Program 17: Capital and Labor
Donald L. Miller
Miller: America at the end of the century. The world seemed to agree,
the 20th century would be the American century. This one Frenchman goes into a
packing plant, and he looks around. And he comes out, and he says to his fellow
passengers when he comes out--he keeps a diary; this is the 1880s, and he's in
Chicago--and he says, "You know, these people are going to capture the
These observers saw this country as different. They didn't actually like it.
The guy I was quoting from is Paul Voiget. He's a conservative, and he has
great trepidation about what's happening, the same kind of trepidation that
Jefferson had. He said, "This is coming." He even uses the words, "The next
century will be the American century, and I don't want to live in it, because I
don't want to live in a world with these gigantic corporations, and I don't
want to live in a world where capitalists are heroes."
They're not heroes to everyone, not to John Mitchell and the coal miners, who
took on the mightiest capitalist in the world, J. P. Morgan. Today, on A
Biography of America, the making of things gives rise to the making of
money, and to bloody conflicts between capital and labor.