View Full Version : Bankruptcy Question

06-30-2008, 02:29 PM
I am writing a film which takes place in mid 19th Century America. The protagonist is a banker and I need him to somehow have his entire life savings and financial assets stripped from him. Does anyone have any ideas?

I'd imagine there's some sort of stock problem or perhaps a corporate take-over of some kind - but I don't know the specifics of how it could happen. Any input would be appreciated.

Kathie Freeman
06-30-2008, 08:17 PM
There were a number of financial "panics" during the 1800's, any one of which could have wiped out your banker. Check out http://thehistorybox.com/ny_city/panics/panics_article9a.htm
or google panic of 1819, 1832, 1836, 1837, 1857, 1869, 1873, 1893, etc. Begining to get the idea? If you think the last few years have been unsettled, just be glad you didn't live in the days before the FDIC.

06-30-2008, 10:01 PM
Many people lost money and entire fortunes on "speculations" that were nothing but scams. In the days before government oversight and widespread news coverage, lots of people fell for what were nothing more than pyramid schemes. A lot of them revolved around railroad schemes in other countries. So people in the UK got taken in by people running railroad schemes in the US, where the railroad was never going to be built. In the US, people got taken in by swindlers who claimed to be building railroads in resource-rich South America or Africa.

Kathie Freeman
07-01-2008, 08:22 PM
Forget corporate takeovers, that is 20th century stuff. Most of the 19th century panics were caused by speculation, either in real estate of gold. Some dealings were downright fraudulant, in other cases large numbers of people simply got over extended on credit (like now). A lot of banks failed in 1857 when there was a run on deposits and a large shipment of gold sank in a hurricane.

Smiling Ted
07-01-2008, 10:05 PM
A bank failure would be appropriate.
No matter how cautious and prudent your character was, nothing would have protected him if the bank he'd stored the money in had failed.