The Panic of 1873
The Panic of 1873 was the worst economic depression of the 19th century. It lasted from September 1873 until late 1878 or early 1879. Because the effects could be felt more strongly in Europe, historians place the end as late as 1897. It was referred to as the Great Depression until the 1929 depression when it was renamed the Long Depression.
The causes of the panic are varied but include wars and disasters putting a strain on bank reserves, inflation and over speculation.
“Banks,” the Library of Congress explains, “raised millions of dollars through selling bonds to finance construction. Speculators ‘bet’ on the railroad, gambling on the fact that settlement and opportunities to make money would follow behind the completed railway. However, construction expenses ballooned and outpaced financing. Efforts to raise more funding failed. When they could no longer pay the bills, … banking houses folded. The collapse of the railway financiers sparked high bank withdrawals, the failure of brokerage firms, and railway construction halted.”
The New York Stock Exchange suspended trading for the first time on Sept.20, 1873.
Overseas, the Vienna Stock Exchange crashed, unemployment rose while prices plummeted, the price of silver compared to gold dropped, people and businesses declared bankruptcy, and building projects were halted.
The Panic’s Toll on Canada
Some factories closed while others lowered wages. In other cases, adults were laid off and children took their place.
Thousands starved during the winter, and there were riots in Ottawa, Montreal and Kingston.
Montreal had the highest child mortality rate in North America. One in four died before their first birthday.
The cost of coal and wood skyrocketed.
Taverns located near factories offered cheap rum and whiskey, and alcohol consumption increases. This led to the formation of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union.
Where to Purchase The Unmarriable Kind
This post is a companion piece to Melina Druga’s historical fiction novella, The Unmarriable Kind.
Lucretia, an opinionated school teacher, wants no part of marriage. The new headmaster champions change. Will they ever see eye to eye? Available in eBook, paperback and hardcover. Full list of retailers.