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The Politicos, 1865-1896 Hardcover – June 15, 2008

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Hardcover, June 15, 2008
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About the Author

Matthew Josephson was born in Brooklyn in 1899. In addition to The Politicos, 1865-1896 (1938) and The Robber Barons: The Great American Capitalists, 1861-1901 (1934), he was the author of two other studies of American politics and society, The President Makers: The Culture of Politics and Leadership in an Age of Enlightenment, 1896-1919 (1940) and The Money Lords: The Great Finance Capitalists, 1925-1950 (1972), as well as biographies of labor leader Sidney Hillman (1952), Thomas Alva Edison (1959), and New York governor Al Smith (1969). Josephson was also deeply immersed in French culture, and wrote biographies of Zola, Rousseau, Hugo, and Stendhal. He died in Santa Cruz, California, in 1978 at the age of seventy-nine.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Commons; New edition edition (June 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0981457908
  • ISBN-13: 978-0981457901
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,607,314 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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This 1938 book provides a history of the late 19th century, the "era of purely capitalist revolution and growth" (p.vii). It shows what the Politicos did while observing "the theory and practice of democracy". "Reform laws are passed to prevent actual reform" (p.viii). The party system created during this time has dominated out government ever since, no matter who are the politicians. The party institutions were captured by the industrial capitalists who triumphed over landholders, small businesses, and proletarians. Social movements cause historical actions, not the reverse (p.ix). The speech of a political leader does not always match what he does. Josephson's point of view provides explanations that answer questions skipped in some history books. This 700 page book has a lot of details on history, it seems tedious at times. You will learn facts about politics that are censored from schoolbook histories.

Josephson said the Civil War was not over slavery or state's rights. After 1850 wealth lay in manufacturing rather than agriculture. Banking, shipping, and most of the white population were in the North. The slave oligarchy held power and office since 1828, then rebelled when they lost their advantage (Chapter 1). This allowed the Whig policies of pro-business laws, a national banking system, internal improvements of rivers and harbors, a protective tariff, Pacific railway subsidies, and free homesteads. This aided the industrialist and financial class, Northern farmers, and the new Republican party. But the new banks and the retirement of fiat paper money caused deflation and difficult debt repayments, government policy that oppressed most people. President Andrew Johnson spoke against government benefits for industry and tried to tax the interest on government bonds.
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