A series of events in the 1890s shook the confidence of many citizens in the reigning political system. There was the severe economic depression that consumed the nation and lasted for five years. Many feared, while others hoped, that the entire political system would topple. By the spring of 1893, the nation, United States of America, was drawn into a depression that had been plaguing European nations since the late 1880s. The European market for imported goods, including those manufactured in the United States, sharply contracted. The stock market reacted with a dramatic plunge. Financial panic in England spread across the Atlantic, as European investors began to sell off their American stocks to obtain funds. There were other factors that helped to bring about the collapse of the U.S. economy such as tight credit, falling agricultural prices, a weak banking system, and overexpansion,especially in railroad construction. The business boom of nearly two decades ended, and the entire economy ground to a halt. The financial panic all began when the Reading Railroad declared bankruptcy. Soon afterwards, 24 businesses failed per day. The crisis sparked a four-year depression in which 15,000 companies and 600 banks closed, and over $1 billion worth of bonds were defaulted. Railroad construction had been the lifeblood of the U.S. economy since the end of the Civil War. Individuals, speculators, and banks invested heavily in railroads, with many of them investing beyond their means in the hopes that the payoff would cover the debts. Eventually supply outweighed demands, and the market could no longer sustain such a high volume of railroad construction on borrowed money. Construction and manufacturing ground to a halt, and the depression arrived in full force in June 1893. In some places it began before 1890, in a deep agricultural crisis that hit Southern cotton-growing regions and the Great Plains in the late 1880s. The Farmers’ Alliance and the Grange thought they could reinvigorate agriculture and agrarian policy. Grange was the National Grange of the Patrons of the Husbandry, a national organization of farm owners formed after the Civil War. Granger laws was the state laws enacted in the Midwest in the 1870s that regulated
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- Fall '17
- Cliff Tyndall
- History, Federal government of the United States, Populist Party, Sherman Silver Purchase Act, Panic of 1893