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tv   Coachmen Culture in the Gilded Age  CSPAN  November 4, 2018 9:45pm-10:01pm EST

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he made his way across the torn and bloody ground. he turned the tide of battle. the fight -- the price he willingly paid one him victory and a place in the memory of soldiers yet to come. the centennial of world war i, all weekend november 10 and 11th here on american history tv. history tv wasan at the organization of american historians annual meeting in sacramento, california. are we spoke with historian car olee klimchock. explores how relationships between coachmen and their passengers resulted in public scandals. this is about 15 minutes.
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an independent scholar living in texas and your panel today, an interesting title. "romance, reverence and renegade: scandals as you'll did history." >> it was a variety of different scandals. one of them that connected to mind was one that had to do with scandals with reverence. mine was scandals with coachman, but we talked a bit about why study scandals. it is not just what you might sort of think of. it is a moment of immorality or something that people are outraged by. i think of scandal as something we can look at historically were people are having changing views about something. some people are outraged, others are practicing those scandalous
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behavior, whatever it might be. to call a i like social hotspot and culture. studying scandal brings us into something that we may not otherwise look at. it is easy to overlook something that seems like it might be trashy gossip, but there is a people andeaching making have binds everywhere. these were things that were making headlines and that people were talking about. they have been forgotten a lot so it is something to think about of why was it so popular. >> are there parallels to what we saw in the clinton white house are what we are seeing today with the trump administration? >> absolutely. i was thinking of the clinton impeachment scandal where newt gingrich was simultaneously having his own affair with a congressional aide. of people example being outraged by one thing but
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practicing something different in private and there being some ambiguity there. we seem -- we see that same social hotspot where there are mixed feelings and some people are outraged and others are secretly accepting of the practice that is going on. >> if you look at what has been referred to as the gilded age and the rockefellers and the carnegie's. in your area of research what have you learned about the coachman and other scandals? >> the coachman were a symbol -- a status symbol. status was important to these people. often had the most expensive uniform. they presented themselves on top of the carriage, so a lot of people would show up to a ball and it would be preceded by their coachman. people would recognize, that is the vanderbilt coachman or the carnegie coachman. they would hire her these men in part for their look. they wanted them to be handsome with a good physique.
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there were hiring people almost as male models/coachman. there was a lot of -- surfaces were important. debutante balls in the newport mansion. the coachman was another aspect of status. covetedhman was a very position among the household staff and often the highest paid. >> so affairs were going on? >> yes. while they drove around the young women, often alone, and they got to know the coachman. parents assumed there would be no relations between a servant and their daughter, especially when the servant was sometimes african-american. it did not occur to them. these young women became friendly with these coach drivers. they also saw that there other marriage options might be arranged marriages with his miss partners of their fathers. they got to know these young
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handsome men who were spending time with them on a daily basis. sometimes they went horse riding together. they really had a personal relationship with these coachman and many of them blossomed into romance. >> today we have tmv or national enquirer, where there papers like this? journalism was at the height of this time. all papers were trying to sell by having the most outrageous titles for the most wild stories. mainstream papers were covering the stories. they had headlines that indicated that this was a pattern, such as, a lot of titles had to do with the coachman. or, another coachman scandal. we get a sense that this was going on over and over and newspapers were assuming that their readers had read this before. we could tell by the title and
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by the fact that there was a lot of humor going on about these coachman and the scandals. >> this is prevalent in the 19th century? >> yes, late 19th, early 20th century. >> why did you decide to pursue this area? >> i sort of stumbled upon this project. i was curious about what a coach driver does. i thought it might lead me to a few hours of googling and finding something out and then moving on to whatever else i was researching. i realize there were all the scandals no one had ever written about. the other scholars i talked to had not heard of it. it seems to be this massive phenomenon in the gilded age. there was an editorial writer who wrote that the coachman is becoming one of the most important personages of our age. so the coachman was a major figure in the gilded age. he has been very forgotten. got onto this.
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>> it was more than single young women. whether separations, affairs within a marriage? it was marriages that also broke up because of the coachman. a lot of affairs we will not know about because they were kept out of the papers. family strategy these stories out of the papers. a lot of them we may never know about. were the relationships news, people change their names, they moved away. i am having a hard time even finding where does the story end . there is a lot more research to be done to figure out what happened to all of these people. i know the answer to some of them but a lot of them remain a mystery. it is part of my ongoing project to figure that out. children out of wedlock as a result of these relationships? >> the stories i am looking at
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.re a local man's -- eloping i am not just looking at affairs but people who legally got married. i make contact with one descendent of one of these relationships. yes, they had children and they are out there. hopefully i will find more. difficultasy or a area to research? >> it is very difficult. i look at the archives of andrew carnegie. .is niece married a coachman cornelius vanderbilt's granddaughter married a coachman. when i look at the archives of , it is a race. they are embarrassed by the story so they purposely take it and do not include it in their stories and in their family histories. erasure there that is hard to follow. the newspapers are really the main source of keeping the
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stories going as they were developing. >> as we moved into the 20th century we had automobiles. so did the coachman become obsolete? >> he did. the chauffeur did not have the same cachet as a coachman. he was inside of a car rather than outside in this fancy uniform. horses were used in world war i, so there was -- the horses were less prevalent in social interactions. there was less horse riding. cars really did away with this. i think there are other examples relationshipsng with people outside of their own class or race. that keeps going and all sorts of directions throughout times. but the phenomenon does seem to have an end date and automobiles is probably the most finite point that we can see where that
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happens. terms of relationships outside of one's race, the norms have changed significantly today versus the turn-of-the-century. >> yes, but i kind of think there is this moment where these were having these affairs that might have been unique in that time that may have waned a little bit before it became more prevalent in recent years. that thetion is really gilded age might have had unique interactions between these women and men of other classes and other races that was somewhat trendy. coach drivers talked about how they read about this in the newspaper and then they considered that maybe they had feelings for each other. there were copycat cases. it was ok for many people, especially for these young people who were thinking
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differently about romance and these coach drivers who are very highly esteemed in culture. i think that in some ways there was a waning in this kind of interracial relationship for some time. nature,ategory of human to paraphrase come the more things change, the more things stay the same. thanng is really different what you saw in the gilded age to what we see today. >> absolutely. when i think of the marryn-american men who these white women, it was very dangerous to be african-american in these days. it is something resonant today. these men took a great risk to marry a white woman when men in the south were lynched for fabrication of co-hurting with a white woman. to actually wed a white woman and live with her was to risk your life.
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is a really interesting part of the story that these men were brave and probably lived in fear at times for their lives. book, whenut your will it come out and what has surprised you the most as you researched this topic? >> perhaps what surprised me the what willo do with eventually be an epilogue, which is that people practice gilded age coach driving today as a hobby. inre are people who dress up gilded costumes, drive gilded age carriages with the horses and with passengers and costume. this is coming to the present. this epilogue part has been the most surprising to me. i have met with some of these coachman, i have driven with them, i have talked to them and i am amazed and shocked that we know about civil war re-not rinse but there are gilded age
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coachman reenactments going on today that are quite fascinating. very expensive hobby to have that many horses and carriages and staff, there instance, afor rockefeller descendent who is a gilded age reenactor. we have a interesting gilded age reenact going on. that is the epilogue. i am working on it. i don't have a date yet but i will keep you updated as to when it might come out. >> are their paintings are pictures from that time? there are no but pictures of the couples together, which i would love to see. inre are images of coachman carriages with women. you can see the proximity of how they might have a conversation, how they might get to know each
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other. there are pictures that you can tell the kinds of relationships that might grow from that level of intimacy they had on the carriages. >> good luck on the book and thank you for being with us. >> thanks. ♪ get your gun take it on the run ♪ >> >> this year marks the centennial of world war i, which ended in 1918. has tors ofn3 battlefields and cemeteries in france, archival films, and discussions with historians. the centennial of world war i, all weekend of november 10 and
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11, here on american history tv. >> washington journal, live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. university of, michigan computer science and engineering professor joins us to discuss voting machine security. real clear politics talks about key races to watch on election night. washington journal, live at 7:00 eastern, monday morning. join the discussion. >> on september 26, 1918, the american army and france launched the meuse-argonne offensive, the largest battle in one history with over million troops engaged. french and british forces also attacked along the western front.


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