Among the more popular and successful of these was the creation of the Public Works Administration (PWA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), jobs programs which were modeled on similar programs in New York State. [Read more…] about Wall Street History: The Great Depression & A New Deal For Working People
Initially many thought the severe Wall Street crash of October 1929 was a temporary phenomenon and like many subsequent crashes (i.e. 1987, 2008) the stock market would recover in a few months or years.
Unfortunately, this did not prove to be the case. After some upward spurts, stocks on the New York Stock Exchange continued to fall for the next three years and economic conditions throughout the country continued to worsen, so that by 1932 the market closed at 41, a drop of 89% over its 1929 high of 381. Employment in Wall Street firms plummeted, as the once heady activity evaporated and the Great Depression took hold.
The response would require a great reset between Wall Street and working Americans. [Read more…] about The First Great Reset: Wall St, the Great Depression & the Pecora Commission
In this episode, Michael Witgen, a Professor of History and a Professor at the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University and a citizen of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, joins us to investigate the story of the Anishinaabeg and Anishinaabewaki, the homelands of the Anishinaabeg people, with details from his book, Seeing Red: Indigenous Land, American Expansion, and the Political Economy of Plunder in North America (Omohundro Institute & Univ. of No. Carolina Press, 2022). [Read more…] about American Expansion and the Political Economy of Plunder
Upon his election to the presidency, Abraham Lincoln inherited a country in crisis, including a Treasury that had run out of money. Amid the unprecedented troubles of the Confederacy seceding from the Union, Lincoln saw opportunity — the chance to legislate in the centralizing spirit of the “more perfect Union” that had first drawn him to politics.
The Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS) will host a presentation by Roger Lowenstein on his book Ways and Means: Lincoln and His Cabinet on the Financing of the Civil War (Penguin, 2022), on Wednesday, March 9th. In this program, Lowenstein will look at, through a financial lens, the largely untold story of how Lincoln used the urgency of the Civil War to transform a union of states into a united nation. [Read more…] about Ways and Means: Lincoln, His Cabinet & Financing Civil War
The break-up of Standard Oil and other monopolies during the Trust-busting Era, created somewhat greater competition, but did not significantly impact Wall Street, or its major players. For example, after the success of the Justice Department in the 1911 Supreme Court Case United States v. Standard Oil (in which the Court ruled that Standard Oil of New Jersey violated the Sherman Antitrust Act), the company was ordered broken into 34 ostensibly independent companies. *
The stock in each of these companies was distributed to Standard Oil Company shareholders (principally the Rockefeller family) and each company had separate boards of directors and separate management, but by and large they continued to operate on separate floors of the same building — 26 Broadway in Manhattan. [Read more…] about Wall Street History: Individual Investors & The Crash of 1929
As control of the American economy became increasingly centralized in trusts located on Wall Street after the Civil War, and the wealth of men like J.P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller grew exponentially, there developed an increasing backlash against such concentrations of wealth. In the 1880s, through an investigation by a committee of the New York State Legislature, Americans became aware that Standard Oil secretly controlled a number of supposedly competing oil companies. By 1910 almost 90% of the world’s oil supply was controlled from the company’s headquarters at 26 Broadway in Manhattan. [Read more…] about Trust Busting: William Jennings Bryan & Theodore Roosevelt
The period after the Civil War was one of significant economic and technological expansion in the nation and one in which corporations headquartered in Lower Manhattan and Wall Street would obtain a significant hegemony over the American economy.
This was a time in which individual entrepreneurs were running private businesses located on Wall Street. Men such as Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jay Gould, John D. Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan were major figures in the country and attained economic power and wealth on a scale previously unknown in United States history.
Much of their wealth was derived exploiting natural resources and technological innovations (notably steam engines, railroads, and oil). It was also largely dependent on the economy’s western expansion and African-American and immigrant labor. These men, who some call “Titans of Industry” and others “Robber Barons,” generally consolidated independent businesses into national enterprises, large monopolies, and multinational corporations. Many of these were headquartered in Lower Manhattan. [Read more…] about Wall Street History: Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Gould, and Morgan
With the demise of the Philadelphia based Bank of the United States, the financial center of the country shifted to the privately owned state chartered financial firms on Wall Street.
As the nation recovered from the severe depression in the Panic of 1837, President James K. Polk’s policy of Manifest Destiny took root and significant westward settlement of Indigenous land expanded in the 1840s. Fortified by the Erie Canal and its Canal Fund, Wall Street financial institutions became strongly influenced by four factors: the invention of the telegraph; the development of railroads; the discovery of gold and other precious minerals in the West (particularly the California Gold Rush of 1849); and the arrival of significant numbers of Jewish and Irish immigrants in the city of New York. [Read more…] about Wall St History: 19th Century Growth of Investment Banking
At the time construction of the Erie Canal was begun in 1817, Philadelphia (the second largest city in the United States) was the nation’s financial center. Although there were successful banks in New York, Philadelphia, one of America’s leading seaports, had been the capital during the American Revolution and of the nation (1790 to 1800), and so was considered the financial center of the country.
This is not to say there was not some rivalry between financial institutions located on Wall Street in New York and Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, but the latter was the site of the first bank established in the nation in 1781, the Bank of North America, and more importantly became the site of the First Bank of the United States, which Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton had promoted. [Read more…] about Wall Street History: The Bank War & The Shift of Financial Power to New York
Prior to the American Revolution, there were virtually no banks in the United States. However, Alexander Hamilton, who was George Washington’s key advisor on financial matters, was familiar with the central banks of England and the Netherlands which had been key factors in the growth of the economy of those countries.
Unlike some agrarian Virginian politicians such as Thomas Jefferson, Hamilton believed that banking and credit was the key to the nation’s future. In 1781 he encouraged Robert Morris, the recently appointed Superintendent of Finance for the Continental government, to form the Bank of North America in Philadelphia. For a time up, until the British surrender of New York, this was the only Bank in the colonies. [Read more…] about Wall Street History: The Politics of New York’s First Banks