When I think of the second half of the 19th century I think of two things, and in regards to this course I put faces on them just because of who delivers the lectures.
1. I think of Reconstruction, extended period of Republican domination, rise of corporate welfare, and the roots of Progressive era policies getting hearings at the state level. Brion McClanahan does a great job highlighting some of those things.
2. I also think of dropping commodity prices, rising standards of living, technical innovation, and Tom Woods’ excellent destruction of the left’s myth that the late 19th century was a period of evil capitalism’s exploitation and growth of the poor class.
I may just be trying to put my history eras into too many well-defined boxes, but it just seems odd in my mind that at first glance it looks like the corrupt and corporatist era coincided with massive economic growth. And I may be answering my own question in suggesting that the massive of economic growth was simply in spite of the corrupt corporate welfare…. but any input/commentary on the possible tension is welcome.