961076 1869 gold panic picture 1 Zoom

Telegraph archive related to Black Friday 1869 (gold panic)

Telegraph archive related to Black Friday 1869 (gold panic)

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Amazing archive of 112 telegrams, telegraph tickers, hand-written letters for telegraph transmittal, etc., mostly to or from George S. Boutwell (US Treasury Secretary,) all related to the gold panic of 1869.  This “Black Friday” was the result of speculators Jay Gould and James Fisk, who manipulated the gold market.  It was one of several scandals that took place during the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant.

The archive starts on August 10, 1869 runs through September 30, 1869 (Black Friday was September 24) and includes a (mostly chronological) collection of messages related to the buying or selling of gold & bonds, the questioning of the government’s actions, and the issues caused by the rapid escalation then collapse of the price of gold.  It also includes several background/reference items (including a detailed 26 page photocopy from “Historical Essays,” 1891, detailing the events leading up and following Black Friday, and mentioning one of the telegraphs included in this archive!) 

A few telegraph excerpts from the collection: 

8/19/1869: “…on the same day Mr. Seligman obtained 200,000 on Treasury order, not for moving wheat crop, but for speculation.  You can scarcely realize the feeling this creates with the cities of populations of less than 1,000,000.  Fourteen million in gold is now locked up in Government, state and city treasuries.  If the same applies pro rate to the Eastern States then a financial crisis is inevitable.”

8/23/1869: “Your compromise is treason, assisting San Francisco repudiate of National Currency.  (Vice President) Colfax has been fooled.” (from G.F. Train.)

9/10/1869: “The branch mint is coining one hundred & twenty thousand each day but so much metal is in process of manipulation & payments on deposits have been so large that further payments must be suspended.”

9/22/1869: (from Jay Gould, actual ticker): “There is a panic in Wall Street engineered by a bear combination.  They have withdrawn currency to such an extent that it is impossible to do ordinary business.  The Erie Railway Company requires $800,000 currency to disburse to the employees between New York and Cincinnati each month; much of it in Ohio where an exciting political contest is going on and where we have about 10,000 employed.”

9/23/1869: “The excitement here in Gold is immense and is unsettling every branch of trade.”

9/23/1869: “You would honor yourself and save the business interests of our country from the ruinous effects of the nefarious New York clique by selling at once twenty millions gold.”

9/24/1869 (Butterfield to Boutwell): “I should be reinforced with currency for tomorrow by express tonight.  My balance is too small to execute orders under the rules of business here.”

9/24/1869: “I am requested to represent to you conditions of affairs here.  Gold is (150) much feeling and accusations of Government complicity.”

9/24/1869: “The gold clique are compelling the merchants to settle with them at one hundred & fifty for all their customs duties.  It will ruin many.”

9/24/1869: “Can nothing be done?  All business demoralized by clique operations in gold.”

9/24/1869 (11:30am). “Gold one hundred & sixty & a half (160 1/2.) Clique can carry it as high as they choose.  Immense alarm and anxiety among the merchants and bankers feeling growing very strong.  Business suspended.  No sales of sterling exchange possible.”  (M. H. Grinnell, NY Port collector, later NY Congressman.)

9/24/1869: “Danger now of the other extreme and consequent trouble.  Stock panic now setting in.”

9/24/1869: “There will be a great crisis if no immediate relief is given.  All legitimate mercantile business has already come to a standstill and the whole country will suffer terribly if nothing is done immediately.”

Fascinating reading and a “real time” archive of a speculative panic, even more interesting that it’s from the perspective of the Secretary of Treasury…

Additional Information

Additional Information

Item Number 961076
Large Lot Type Collection

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