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Abstract (Lang: English):
Although the Panic of 1819, the first nationwide economic catastrophe in U.S. history, was geographically, chronologically, and socially wide-reaching, the event has been largely overlooked by historians. In the twentieth century, there was only one monograph published on the subject. The recent boom in the history of capitalism has cultivated new interest in and publication on the panic. Inspired by a roundtable at the 2019 annual meeting of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic commemorating the panic’s bicentennial, the historians writing for this forum offer a dozen new ways of thinking about the hard times of the 1810s and 1820s. Inclusive and expansive, the forum’s brief essays explode previous assumptions about the subject’s people, places, periodization, and political economy. Above all, they demonstrate that the Panic of 1819 was no mere panic; the nearly decade-long hard times were not a singular, sudden, or senseless response by frightened people to the results of benign policies or neutral market forces. This essay, as an introduction to the forum, reviews the historiography of the panic and, with the goal of encouraging still more research into the topic, argues for the renaming of this event.