The financial crash of 1855

The San Francisco business failures of 1854, mostly a result of over speculation, were merely a preamble to the failures of 1855. In retrospect the first year could be seen as profitable compared to the second. In 1854 the total monetary yield was sixty-four million dollars while in 1855 it came to only fifty-five million. Mean while forty-eight thousand immigrants came to California in the first of these two years and only twenty-nine thousand the second. The departures from the city in 1854 were twenty-four thousand for a gain in population of twenty-four thousand while the next year the departures were twenty-three thousand for a net gain of only six thousand.

The Golden Gate and Angel Island

But the coming financial storm, already underway in 1854, would increase in size and violence until it finally dissipated with the unrest and upheaval of affairs caused by the resurfacing of the Vigilance Committee of 1856 and everywhere along the way there could be found destroyed firms and bankrupt individuals. There had been seventy-seven insolvencies in that first year of 1854 but the next year the number more than doubled to a high of one hundred and ninety-seven with liabilities of over eight million dollars. But the most stunning part of the crash was the failure of the banks that represented the largest and most numerous depositors in the state.



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