American Consequences - June 2019

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Peninsula to Michigan. There is still debate about who got the worst of the deal. The Panic of 1837 interrupted Toledo land speculation, canal building, and happy hour in the 31 taverns lining the mucky track from the Maumee to the other side of the Great Black Swamp (a distance of 35 miles). The Panic brought, in the words of Scott, an “airy fabric into ruin.” Again, the government was monkeying around with our money. Andrew Jackson ran for president on a platform of contempt for East Coast establishment elites, sympathy with hard-working regular people in the heartland, and a promise to Make America... You get the idea. (He carried Ohio in 1828 and again in 1832.) Jackson may have been the worst economic nincompoop to have ever occupied the White House. (Although we’ll have to see how the current trade war with China turns out.) Jackson was convinced that East Coast establishment elites were making all their money by lending it to hard-working regular people in the heartland to buy land with loans from the Second Bank of the United States controlled by East Coast establishment elites. In June 1832, Jackson vetoed the renewal of the Second Bank’s charter. In June 1836, he signed the Deposit Distribution Act, requiring all federal revenues to be deposited in state banks... which were under the same kind of loose and stupid management that they had been in 1819. This deprived the East Coast establishment elites of capital. They quit making loans for land, or anything else.

Then in August 1836, Jackson issued an executive order, the “Specie Circular,” to forestall any tricky “financial instruments” that elites might create to keep ripping off hard-working regular people with the elite’s land speculations. The Specie Circular demanded that federal land purchases be paid for in hard money, of which, among regular people, there was practically none. The economy – especially the economy of heartland Jackson supporters – collapsed. Scott stubbornly held onto his Toledo land – and got rich. By the time he died in the 1870s, Toledo in fact had become something of a commercial center with a population of 31,500. Property Scott had bought for $12 an acre turned out to be where downtown Toledo was built and sold for $12,000 an acre.

Jackson may have been the worst economic nincompoop to have ever occupied the White House. (Although we'll have to see how the current trade war with China turns out.)

Scott became Toledo’s preeminent citizen. He was the editor of the daily paper, The Toledo Blade . He laid plans for the University of Toledo and donated its campus (a rather soggy patch by Ten Mile Creek a few blocks from where I grew up). But Scott had had something more splendid in mind. He was the author of a pamphlet about Toledo wonderfully, if rather lengthily, called:

American Consequences

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