24 October 1857, p. 53.
Bank Suspensions.–Money Easier.–Times Better.
There is a natural feeling in all men’s breasts, that it is always best to know the worst. During the past few weeks the whole commercial community seemed sinking into some unknown abyss of stagnation, and the working class appeared hurrying to starvation. A universal horror seized the public mind, little business of any kind was transacted, property of every sort depreciated in value, and specie to meet immediate demands was quickly swallowed up, without there being much hope of a fresh supply; banks refused to discount, and nothing but gloomy looks and despairing expressions were to be seen or heard from Wall street to Fifth avenue. Owing to the continual demand for specie upon our city banks during this period, their vaults were impoverished; nearly every one of the experienced what is called a “run;” and on Tuesday, the 13th, all of them, (with one exception, the Chemical Bank,) and nearly every country bank within five hundred miles of New York, suspended specie payments. This brought the crisis to a head, every one knew the worst, and the commercial world felt comparatively at ease again.
Little inconvenience has been felt from the general suspension; the banks continue business as usual, except that they make no payments in coin; they receive bills of other banks on deposit, and men go in and out of them with their usual elastic step. Business is again becoming brisk; and as we seem to have once more started on our old system of “business confidence,” and money is becoming much easier, we think we may safely believe, without being too sanguine, that our former prosperous position will be recovered by the New Year, and that we shall have a Spring trade of the usual activity. As an illustration of the improvement of the last few days, many stocks and securities (bank, State, and others) have risen ten per cent, and some even more than that; but we do not wish to overstate the relief that is felt on all sides. There is, however, little doubt that the Fall trade is ruined, and many merchants will have their goods on hand instead of in the market. As a kind of set-off to this, some of the larger dry-goods’ merchants, who were entirely wholesale in their transactions, are now offering to sell all their goods at retail, rather than have them remain on their hands.
We earnestly hope that we may be able, each week, to chronicle a progressive improvement; and we conclude by illustrating our recent pecuniary embarrassment by the similitude of an old fable:–The great wheel of our national prosperity has been in so deep a hole that we were nearly overturned; but we put our willing hearts and stronger heads and hands to it, gave “a long pull, a strong pull, and a pull altogether,” and we are now again traveling the road to national wealth and greatness, having shown ourselves, throughout this ordeal, as we have throughout many others, to be a living example of the motto–“Union is strength.”