The 19th century witnessed both the blessings, and horrors of Capitalism. The standard of living, and overall economic growth brought the United States into an age of prosperity, that wasn’t surpassed until a superior economic order surfaced in the post Worst War two era. Despite all of these gains our country experienced in the 19th century, most of them would eventually be wiped out by the onset of a economic panic. Economic panics were the 19th century’s term for a downturn in the business cycle, but their nature was more severe than any post-war recession, and their occurrence was more frequent as well. Henceforth the economic order of the 19th century witnessed tremendous growth rates and innovation, but at the same time experienced widespread hardships that are almost entirely absent in todays social system.
The economic panic of the 1870’s provides a good case example of the kind of financial turmoil that persisted during this chaotic century. Originally I had hoped to find a video on the economic panic of the 1890’s in order to provide a nice backdrop to the Pullman Strike, but instead I could only find a good video about a panic that was very similar in nature. The similarities of these panics lay in the fact that both were caused by speculation, and the collapse of the railroads. In addition to this both Economic Panics were not only fairly long, but also produced a massive amount of unemployment and deflation comparable to the Great Depression. Furthermore, both of these economic panics gave rise to the popular use of the general strike as a means to combat economic conditions, and challenge the status quo. For example the economic panic of the 1870’s gave way to “the great rail way strike”, while at the same time the downturn of the 90’s gave rise to the Pullman Strike. Hopefully this information will be enough to provide a nice backdrop for the following post which will focus on the Pullman Strike.