Early Recessions

According to NBER, Recession is a decline in economic activities for two successive quarters. Technically, negative GDP growth for at least two consecutive quarters.

Recessions aren’t a new phenomenon in the western world. America had its first recession in 1785. Called as the Panic of 1785, it lasted for 4 years.

Copper Panic of 1789

After the American Revolution, many states started minting their own coins. The copper coins were widely accepted in the beginning. George Washington became the first president of the United States. French Revolution began in 1789.

Many states gave the rights to mint coins to private parties. The business became profitable to them only if lighter coins are minted. Soon coins started to become lighter. Many people started to make counterfeited coins and the market was flooded with debased coins. Citizens lost confidence in the coins completely.

Later Bank of Philadelphia began issuing paper notes to replace copper coins. The economy began to recover and slowly value of copper also rose.

Recession of 1807

The next major recession was in 1807.

US Congress had imposed an embargo against Britain and France in 1807. The main reason for this is the impressment of British-American seamen by the Royal army. Many businesses were hit due to the embargo. There were widespread protests in America against it. The Federalist Party that opposed the embargo gained in the next election. Finally, after 15 months, the embargo was revoked. This recession that happened during the presidency of Jefferson lasted for 3 years.

The Napoleonic wars were going on from 1803-1815. As the history says, wars bring economies to life as there is an increase in demand from various sectors. The country went through a mild recession in 1812 before the post-Napoleonic depression affected Europe and US.

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Would you like to read more about this topic? This book might interest you: History of Big Recessions.