Age of Betrayal is a brilliant reconsideration of America's first Gilded Age, when war-born dreams of freedom and democracy died of their impossibility. Focusing on the alliance between government and railroads forged by bribes and campaign contributions, Jack Beatty details the corruption of American political culture that, in the words of Rutherford B. Hayes, transformed “a government of the people, by the people, and for the people” into “a government by the corporations, of the corporations, and for the corporations.” A passionate, gripping, scandalous and sorrowing history of the triumph of wealth over commonwealth.
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|Title of History eBook: Age of Betrayal|
|Release Date: 04-10-2007|
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|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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Age of Betrayal
Chapter 1: Annihilating Space
There have been two great dispensations of civilization, the Greek & Christian and now comes the railroad.
southern textile mill owner, 1853
Julius Caesar regularized the calendar in 46 B.C. Pope Gregory XIII reformed it in 1582. King George III subtracted eleven days from the British calendar nearly 200 years later. On November 18, 1883, America’s railroad corporations stopped time.
In the 1850s Americans set their watches to eighty local times—thirty-eight in Wisconsin alone, twenty-seven in Indiana, twenty-three in Illinois. Noon in Chicago was 11:27 A.M. in Omaha, 11:50 A.M. in St. Louis, 12:09 P.M. in Louisville, and 12:31 P.M. in Pittsburgh. An 1883 railway gazetteer included time conversion tables for over 8,000 stations. Fingers plowed the ink off dark columns of type, plotting a route across the temporal Babel.
Yet, perhaps because few Americans traveled far, most of them tolerated this time quilt, to judge by the letters column of the New York Times, which printed seven letters of travelers’ complaints in fifteen years. Basically, Americans took nature’s word for time: Noon arrived when the sun looked nearest to being overhead, at times that differed with locations. (“A movement of one degree around the earth’s surface—about 48 miles due east or west in the United States—changes local time four minutes,” according to one authority.) Town clocks, to be sure, were set not by sundials but by almanacs that averaged the sun’s variations over months and years. A scattering of localities rented astronomically precise time from observat