Monday, September 17, 2012

The Panic of 1873

A year ago this week, Occupy Wall Street began as a relatively small protest in a park in New York City’s Wall St. Area. It is now an international movement that stands against financial greed and the “corrosive power” of major banks they feel led to our recent economic collapse.

A place not unaccustomed to financial panic and discord, Wall Street was also one of the earliest areas hit in the beginning of the original Great Depression in 1873. That year, the New York Stock Exchange was forced to close its doors for the very first time on September 20 during what was known as the Panic of 1873.

Much like our most recent economic disaster, the Panic of 1873 was sparked by the collapse of a large financial institution: Jay Cooke & Company, a brokerage firm and a major investor in railroad construction. Their failure led to a chain reaction and the country suffered economic despair for years, resulting in history’s worst financial crisis until the second Great Depression came along in the 1930’s.