THE situation in which the American community found itself, in 1901, was one which arises at intervals in all prosperous modern states; but its characteristics were emphasized, on this occasion, by the unusual incidents of the period. Such a situation has invariably, on all previous occasions, resulted, first in readiness of people at large to embark in all sorts of enterprises the wealth whose extent they have suddenly come to realize, and next in a rush into speculation.
This is a very old story, familiar to every business man and student of economics. It describes the financial movement between 1899 and 1901, but it describes it no more accurately than it does Germany's "industrial boom" of 1897 or England's "Kaffir craze" of 1894 or the "railway mania" of 1844 or the great American land speculation of 1836, or, for that matter, a score of incidents in the financial history of every modern state. The tracing of this chapter of causes and consequences is, however, specially in-