#368 Henry Bergh's Fight for Animal Rights in Gilded Age New York


Manage episode 298742945 series 1530999
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Interview with Prof. Ernest Freeberg, author of “A Traitor to His Species: Henry Bergh and the Birth of the Animal Rights Movement”

Today’s show is all about animals in 19th-century New York City. Of course, animals were an incredibly common sight on the streets, market halls, and factories during the Gilded Age, and many of us probably have a quaint image of horse-drawn carriages.

But how often do we think about the actual work that those horses put in every day? The stress of pulling those private carriages -- or, much worse, pulling street trolleys, often overloaded with New Yorkers trying to get to work or home?

In the book, “A Traitor to His Species”, author Ernest Freeberg tells the story of these animals -- and of their protector, Henry Bergh, the founder of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). He ran the organization from the 1860s to the 1880s, and was a celebrity in his day -- widely covered, and widely mocked for his unflinching defense of the humane treatment of all animals, even the lowliest pesky birds or turtles.

His story is full of surprising turns, and offers an inside account of the early fight for animal rights, and engrossing tales of Gilded Age New York from a new perspective -- the animal’s perspective!

Ernest Freeberg is a distinguished professor of humanities and head of the history department at the University of Tennessee.

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