Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
James E. Fickle
Charles W. Crawford
Scott P. Marler
Andrei A. Znamenski
This dissertation takes an in-depth analysis of five causes of the Nineties Depression which are varied, but occurring simultaneously during a four-year period from 1893 to 1897. The study of this economic period is important because these causes played a key role in producing the financial upheaval that brought on the Depression of 1893-1897. Much of the regulatory environment of the various banking reform acts and the railroad acts of the early twentieth century resulted from this catastrophic depression which have given importance to its time frame. This investigation begins with a descriptive analysis of how silver coinage authorized by the Bland-Allison Act of 1878, created parity problems between gold and silver in the U.S. currency system.These monetary parity problems ultimately led to causes that brought about the depression of the 1890s. The four years from mid-1893 to 1897 are unique in American economic history, in that up to this time, no other financial panic or prolonged economic depression caused such sweeping monetary ruin for such a broad population of Americans. Cotton farmers of the South suffered from depressed prices with cotton reaching as low as five cents a pound, corn and wheat farmers of the Midwest suffered from periods of drought during the economic downturn, and there were bank failures that imposed untold financial ruin upon the merchant and industrial classes as well. This dissertation and research has expanded upon and contributed to a much-needed financial focus on America's late nineteenth-century monetary and economic transformation. The industrialization of America with an inadequate monetary supply during the 1890s was part of the economic process that led to the economic depression. The research has also offered a greater analysis of the global economic interrelationships involved and the existing global influences which compelled countries on the gold standard to maintain adequate reserves. Global influences would not allow the standard parity of a 15 to 1 ratio of silver to gold established by a January 1837 currency bill to remain in place. As more European countries adjusted their monetary standard to a primary gold standard, the United States was under constant pressure toward maintaining the convertibility of its bank notes into gold upon demand while continuously maintaining an adequate U.S. Treasury gold reserve. The five major economic problems that created the "perfect economic storm" for the Depression Nineties are addressed within a global contest as well.
dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.
Williams, Walter Franklin, "Monetary Policy and Railroad Overcapitalization: Their Role in the Depression Years, 1893-1897" (2016). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1507.