Big business critics have long warned of the dangers of economic consolidation, but so, too, have business leaders. Since the Gilded Age, vilified financiers like Jay Gould set the tone that prompted historians to term an entire generation of business leaders "robber barons." Professor John's lecture will show how in the nineteenth-century, American merchants, promoters, and industrialists popularized an antimonopoly tradition that still retains relevance today.
Professor John is a historian who specializes in the political economy of communications in the United States. He is the author of many essays and two books-- Spreading the News: The American Postal System from Franklin to Morse (Harvard, 1995) and Network Nation: Inventing American Telecommunications (Harvard, 2010). John has been a fellow at the Newberry Library in Chicago and the Smithsonian Institution's Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D. C., and has served as a visiting professor at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris. He is currently the president of the Business History Conference, an international professional society dedicated to the study of institutional history.
The Business History Forum is co-sponsored by Columbia Business School, Columbia Journalism School, the Herbert H. Lehman Center for American History, and the Rare Book & Manuscript Library. The Forum features speakers who address the past, present and future of industries that have been and, in many cases, continue to be important to the development of New York City, including accounting; finance; law; media; real estate/development; theater; and trade. It brings together academic experts, industry practitioners, students, and the public.