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Capital and Labor
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The Elections of 1896 and 1900 Key Events Maps Transcript Webography

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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 world."

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.

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