Our Public Debt: An Historical Sketch with a Description of United States Securities

By Harvey E. Fisk | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
Liquidating the War Debt

THE sudden cessation of hostilities; the return of a great army of men to the pursuits of peace; the adjustment of business to a class of conditions essentially different from those prevailing before the war and during the war, involved many sacrifices. The speculative fever raised by the war subsided but slowly, and was followed by much distress and a period of reaction which tried men's souls perhaps more effectually than the dreadful, but exciting, war times.

The great expansion of the currency from a bank circulation estimated at about two hundred million dollars and specie two hundred and forty-eight million ($13.85 per capita) in 1861, to a bank and treasury circulation of seven hundred and fifteen million dollars, in 1865, practically all paper ($20.58 per capita), accompanied by a suspension of specie payments. wrought a vast change in the business methods of the country. Industry, in all its phases, had been wonderfully stimulated, Fortunes were quickly made, quickly lost. Speculation, gambling, belief in luck were the order of the hour. The whole country was exhilarated.

When the war stopped manufactures of military supplies of all kinds suddenly ceased. The commercial activity aroused by the war sought new fields, and found them in great schemes for developing the country.

Capital poured into all forms of fixed investment.

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