History That Doesn't SuckHistory

History That Doesn't Suck

History That Doesn't Suck

99: The Gilded Age’s Singer Sewing Machines & Dangerous Bananas w/ Dr. Ben Sawyer of The Road To Now

Mon, 11 Oct 2021
Did Singer Sewing Machines take over the world? And are bananas as dangerous as they appear in cartoons? The answer to both of these questions are a resounding “yes!” in the Gilded Age. Listen in as the Prof. discusses these and other Gilded Age topics with his esteemed colleague and fellow podcaster: Dr. Ben Sawyer of Middle Tennessee State University and The Road to Now Podcast (check them out here: https://www.theroadtonow.com/)!
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98: Silver & Gold: From Grover Cleveland to William Jennings Bryan & William McKinley

Mon, 27 Sep 2021
“You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.”

This is the story of the Gilded Age’s later presidencies.

Grover “the Good” Cleveland is known as a man of integrity and honesty. Those characteristics alone are enough to get him to the White House. But as Benjamin Harrison interrupts his terms, the frustration of farmers and factory workers is boiling over into more labor strikes. Soon, working-class Americans are rallying around one issue in particular: the minting of silver.

The issue is ripping the Democratic party apart. Should they continue to support the gold standard, as Democratic president Grover Cleveland does? Or should they support the working-class “silverites,” as a young Congressman from Nebraska named William Jennings Byran hopes to do? This question will be settled as the Dems pick a nominee to square off against the Republicans’ 1896 presidential candidate: William McKinley.
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97: The Gilded Age’s Robber Barons: John D. Rockefeller & Andrew Carnegie

Mon, 13 Sep 2021
“Someday, some-time, when I am a man, I want to be worth a hundred thousand dollars!”
This is the story of two of the United States’ most wealthy industrialists.
John D. Rockefeller is the son of a con artist; he teaches young John never to trust and leaves the boy wondering if food will or won’t be on the table. John will rise from his world of uncertainty to dominate the emerging oil scene.
The son of a Scottish weaver, Andrew Carnegie comes from absolutely nothing. But Pennsylvania Railroad exec Tom Scott sees promise in the lad. Tom’s mentoring will help Andy emerge as the king of the steel industry.
Both men overcome the impossible. But are they inspiring Titans of industry? Or monopolistic robber barons? The beneficiaries of their philanthropy see the former, while workers might see the latter—particularly those at a steel mill in Homestead, Pennsylvania.
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96: The War of the Currents: (Thomas Alva Edison v. Nikola Tesla & George Westinghouse)

Mon, 30 Aug 2021
“Tesla, you don’t understand our American humor.”

This is the story of opinionated inventors with very different views on electric lighting; a story of invention, genius, conniving, and even electrocutions. This is the War of the Currents.
Thomas Alva Edison believes in direct current. He’s convinced it’s safer. Freshly arrived from Europe, Nikola Tesla thinks alternating current has the potential to unleash indoor domestic lighting on a whole new level and can be made just as safe. The men differ, and when Nikola teams up with George Westinghouse, Alva finds his position as king of the electric hill threatened. But as Nikola and George will soon see: the Wizard of Menlo Park won’t take this threat lying down ...
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95: "Several Thousand Things that Won't Work:" Thomas Alva Edison and His Electric Light

Mon, 16 Aug 2021
“I have got so much to do and life is so short, I am going to hustle.”
This is the story of trial and error, of determination, and science merging with business.
Electric lights have been around since the early 1800s. Unfortunately, they’ve also been impractical. The energy it takes to operate an arc light makes it little more than a novelty. Likewise, newer lights called “incandescents” burn out far too quickly to be of value. 
But what if someone could make incandescents last hundreds of hours? What if someone could figure out how to power them safely and economically … on such a scale that an entire neighborhood could be electrified–like a major section of Lower Manhattan? 
It sounds like a pipedream, but one inventor with incredible business savvy thinks he can do it. All he’ll need is a large team willing to make every error in the book until they can figure out how to do it right. This is the story of Thomas Alva Edison and his electric light.
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