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America In Crisis Essay

1329 words - 6 pages

As the new century approached, a national crisis began to develop in the United States. The nation faced a severe depression, nationwide labor unrest and violence, and the government’s inability to fix any of the occurring problems. The Panic of 1893 ravaged the nation and became the worse economic crisis of its time. The depression’s ruthlessness contributed to social unrest and weakened the monetary system’s strength, leading to a debate over what would be the foundation of the national currency. As the era ended, the US sought to increase its power and strength. America began expanding its oversees empires, eventually drawing itself into numerous war efforts and creating an anti-imperialist movement that challenged the government. At the turn of the century, America became engrossed in numerous economic and social tribulations, as well as foreign problems rooted in imperialism and the pursuit of the new manifest destiny.
The Panic of 1893 was one of the most grim and profound problems that plagued America at the end of the 19th century. The financial catastrophe began in May of 1893 when two companies – The Philadelphia and Reading Railroad and The Cordage Company declared bankruptcy after failing to fulfill payments on their loans. The joint financial failures of the companies sparked a crash in the stock market. This served as a catalyst for a surge of bank failures because many New York banks were big investors in the Stock Market. The financial disaster began in New York and soon permeated its way throughout the country. Over a six-month period, over 8,000 businesses, 156 railroads, 400 banks failed, and 20% of Americans were unemployed By July of 1893, there was massive unemployment in factories and extensive wage cuts. The combination of these factors brewed massive social unrest among the unemployed and in 1894, Jacob S. Coxey led an army of unemployed workers to Washington, D.C in protest of the widespread unemployment and massive inflation. By April, more than 40,000 workers were said to have been participating in approximately thirty strikes across the country. The most significant of these strikes was the Pullman Strike – a nationwide railroad strike that pitted the Pullman Company against the American Railway Union. The strike was a response the wage cuts and effectively shut down much of the nations railway travel west of Detroit, Michigan. Not only did the economic crisis create widespread social unrest, but also reduced the power of and trust in the US currency. Conflicting parties subsequently began to debate over what would become the basis of the US monetary system – silver or gold.
As the financial panic damaged the US monetary system, many citizens began blaming the US currency as the root cause of the depression. Traditionally, the US had followed a policy of “bimetallism”, recognizing both gold and silver as a basis for the dollar; however, a lack of flow of silver into the mint forced the mint to stop coining...

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