A Look At The History Of Wall Street Protests with Beverly Gage

Historians in the News

Guy Raz talks to Beverly Gage, associate professor of history at Yale University and author of the book The Day Wall Street Exploded: The Story of America in its First Age of Terror, about the history of protests on Wall Street.

MELISSA BLOCK, host: This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

GUY RAZ, host: And I'm Guy Raz.

The so-called Occupy Wall Street Movement is in its third week of protests, a block from the nation's financial center in New York. The daily demonstrations carry echoes of a century ago and the decades leading up to the Great Depression. It was a time when protests were a regular feature on Wall Street and powerful financiers, like J.P. Morgan, were pilloried in song.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Singing) My name is Morgan but it ain't J.P. There's no bank on Wall Street that belongs to me...

RAZ: This is a popular tune in 1906 called "My Name Is Morgan, But It Ain't J.P."

For more now, I'm joined by Beverly Gage. She's an associate professor of history at Yale, and the author of "The Day Wall Street Exploded: The Story of America in Its First Age of Terror."

Beverly Gage, welcome.

BEVERLY GAGE: Thanks, Guy.

RAZ: When did Wall Street become a place where protesters gathered?

GAGE: Wall Street really began to consolidate its power as the center of American finance in the years around the Civil War. And then, almost immediately after that, it became a target for protesters, really from a variety of places on the political spectrum. But throughout the late 19th century into the early 20th century, you had very regular demonstrations on Wall Street.

And, as you were suggesting, figures like J.P. Morgan were loved in some circles but were mostly hated by many segments of the American people, who spent a great deal of time talking about and criticizing Wall Street....

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