Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/171

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RAINFALL AND COMMERCE AND POLITICS.

occurred the severe financial panic of 1893 to 1894. This panic occurred one or two years before the greatest deficiency of rainfall and thus differed from the preceding panics which occurred one or two years after the greatest deficiency. But a very marked depression in business activity continued throughout the interval 1893 to 1897 inclusive.

It is thus evident that every severe financial panic has been closely associated with a protracted period of deficient rainfall, and there has been no period of protracted drought without a severe financial panic except a period, the effects of which were masked by the large disturbances attending our civil war. Hence, it is difficult to avoid the conviction that periods of deficient rainfall are the paramount causes of the periods of commercial distress, especially when the means by which the two are connected are so reasonable.

As another link in the chain of causation, it is interesting to trace the coincidences between the periods of deficient rainfall, deficient food supply and financial panics and the subsequent changes in political life.

Concerning the panic of 1837, I quote the following from a current history, "The panic of 1837 was a severe blow to Van Buren and his party. A slight return of the panic in 1839 completed the work; and though his party stood manfully by him and renominated him for the presidency, he was defeated by the Whigs. . . like Jackson, on a wave of enthusiasm, 'Tippecanoe and Tyler too' were triumphantly elected."[1]

In the presidential election following the financial panic of 1857, that of 1860, the Democratic party which had previously been in power was disorganized and broken into factions, and the new Republican party sprang triumphantly into power. However, it is probable that the great issue of slavery had a large share in these occurrences.

The first national election after the financial panic of 1873 was that of 1874, when the Republican majority of 107 in the House of Representatives was turned into a Democratic majority of 74, and two years later the Democratic party failed in obtaining the presidency only by the narrowest margin, although the country at the previous presidential election had been overwhelmingly Republican.

The political effects following the commercial crisis of 1893 to 1894 were very striking. The Democrats who were then in power, realizing that they were held responsible for the commercial distress, abandoned every important issue for which they had previously stood, and, even repudiating their former leader and his opinions, nominated a new leader, the champion of a new issue. But this in no way saved them from overwhelming defeat at the next election. The marked disturb-


  1. 'A History of the United States' by Allen C. Thomas, Boston, 1899.