The Long Depression Begins
“Father has not yet returned. We are a little interested to know whether he had any money in the hands of Clews & Co. whom we hear failed yesterday, or I should say, suspended, but I suppose it amounts to the same thing.” As Blanche Butler Ames wrote his brother in September 1873, he had no idea of the economic downfall to come. The failure of Jay Cooke & Co, one of the United States largest investment firms, and other banks, like Clew & Co. in September 1873, set off a tidal wave of bankruptcies, foreclosures, and job layoffs. In fact, John Dobson states that “before the year was out, over 5,000 commercial firms failed.”
The Panic of 1873 officially started in the September of 1873 and “set off the nation’s first full scale industrial downturn as well as set off the first nationwide labor confrontation.” At the time Blanche, like most people, felt that the Panic would only last for a couple of months; however, the Panic would last for seven years and become known as the “Long Depression.”
- John M Dobson, Bulls, Bears, Boom, and Bust: A Historical Encyclopedia of American Business Concepts (Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 2007), 178-180.
- Blanch Butler Ames, Letter from Blanche Butler Ames to Adelbert Ames (Clinton, MA: Privately Published, 1957).