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Kauffman to discuss corruption in the Gilded Age at Community Lecture Series event

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Brenda Kauffman

Flagler College assistant professor Brenda Kauffman will uncover corruption during the Gilded Age when she speaks as part of the College’s Community Lecture Series.

April 2, 2013

Mark Twain once wrote of the Gilded Age that the gleam of riches hid a tremendous number of problems that many people were facing at the time. Flagler College assistant professor Brenda Kauffman will uncover those problems on April 9 when she speaks as part of the College’s Community Lecture Series.

“The politics of the era are marked by intense competition between the Democratic and Republican parties and despite the high voter turnout for elections, the presidency was not a real force of power and influence and the Congress was mired in corruption,” explained Kauffman. “On top of that, living conditions for many urban dwellers were dismal. Disease was rampart and city governments could not respond fast enough with necessary infrastructure to help alleviate the problems of the growing populations.”

Kauffman, whose lecture is titled "The Golden Gleam of the Gilded Surface and the Cheapness of the Metal: Political Corruption and American Policy Reforms in the 19th Century," will also discuss how the issues of the day brought about great change and advancement.

“This was a time of great technological advancement and the U.S. Patent Office issued 440,000 patents between 1860 and 1900,” said Kauffman. “We also had major reforms like the Pendleton Civil Service Act and anti-trust legislation as well as the recognition of many different civil and labor rights issues.”

Dr. Kauffman earned her Ph.D. in Political Science from Auburn University, a Masters Degree in Liberal Arts and Philosophy from Spring Hill College, a Bachelor's in Philosophy and Religious Studies from Georgia State University, and an Associate's Degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences from Penn State University.  Her areas of specific interest include environmental politics, international organizations and international political economy.

In honor of the 125th anniversary of the former Hotel Ponce de Leon, the 2013 Community Lecture Series will focus on “The Hotel Ponce de Leon Deconstructed: Building the Future for Modern America.”

The series will feature a lineup of historians and scholars discussing Henry Flagler’s vision for St. Augustine, social classes and American politics during the late 19th century, the influence of art, music and literature during the Gilded Age, as well as other exciting topics. 

This year, thanks to VISIT FLORIDA’s Cultural Heritage and Nature Tourism Grant Program, Flagler College will offer complimentary admission to the spring 2013 Flagler College Community Lecture Series for any St. Johns County tourism employee. Tourism employees interested in attending any of the five lectures offered will need to present their employee name tag or ID at the lecture series registration table.

Tickets are $5 per person. Active military personnel may attend at no charge. Lectures begin at 10 a.m. in the Flagler Room at Flagler College, 74 King St. The lecture will last approximately one hour and will be followed by a coffee and pastry reception.

Reservations for the lecture series are required due to limited space. Call (904) 819-6282 for reservations or more information. To watch a live stream of these lectures, visit