PANIC OF 1819 LETTER. Baltimore, June 1, 1819. Stampless letter, Benjamin D. Hidgon (Benjamin Downing Higdon ) to John Liggat in Lynchburg Va. 11” x 8 ½”. 2 ½ pp pen manuscript. Good legible cond, some separation along a few fold lines, back page torn and missing a quarter of page, not affecting any text. (H.500);$120.
June 1 1819
From my letter a few days to you a few days ago you will have anticipated on some measure the calamity which now pervades our city – business is nearly at a stand still and confidence is lost among us. We are however undergoing a severe but I trust a salutary operation, and in a little time I have no doubt things will wear a more cheery aspect. From the malconduct of some of some of the officers of the United States branch bank at this place, it was thought expedient to examine with strictness the conduct of other officers of some of the money institutions.The result has been of disposal of Mr. Hagenbottom. William Burt and some others in the Union bank for the most outrageous conduct in squandering and almost giving away the money of the bank… These reports as you will readily conceive were well calculated to impair public confidence and a considerable run was on Saturday last. The City Bank was not prepared to meet the emergency but the others being so well prepared their counters literally covered with dollars, that on a short time the demand ceased in the crowd which was a few exceptions consisted of the lower class soon disbursed with satisfaction and I had been told that some were seen coming back carrying back the dollars to the bank from whence they had a short time previous received . So that confidence in our banks has once more resumed her station, except the City Bank, which from the statement I have seen must I think wind up its concerns, it has been most shamefully managed. ( Goes on for another half page regarding other financial issues).
Yours, Benj. D. Higdon
The Panic of 1819 was the first major peacetime financial crisis in the United States followed by a general collapse of the American economy persisting through 1821. The Panic announced the transition of the nation from its colonial commercial status with Europe toward a dynamic economy, increasingly characterized by the financial and industrial imperatives of laissez-faire capitalism