The merger occurred just as the gilt was wearing off the gilded age. Like the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, the American economy in the 1890s was suffering from overexpansion - in farming, railroads and credit. In Kansas, for example, where new communities had sprung up overnight as more and more farmers bought land on credit, farm prices collapsed. Half of the farmers who had trekked there from the East moved back in the early 1890s, in wagons sporting the motto: "In God we trusted. In Kansas we busted."
In 1893 the collapse of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad and the National Cordage Co. triggered a financial panic that rolled West, leaving in its wake shuttered banks, business failures and lengthening unemployment lines.
Blaming the panic on the drop in gold reserves, President Cleveland repealed the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, which pulled the rug out from under the price of silver and effectively turned many of the boom mining towns of the Rockies into ghost towns overnight. Deflation followed.
Against this background William Jennings Bryan won the Democratic nomination for president in 1894 and ran on the platform of free silver, intoning, in his famous speech: "You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns; you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold."
Horrified, Dodsworth, a staunch advocate of the single gold standard for the currency, called Bryan "the ass of ignorance, reaction, cupidity and communism." He continued to blast Bryan in the pages of the JoC up until the day William McKinley won the election for the Republican Party. The JoC's Nov. 4 headline was: "Victory for Sound Money: Overwhelming Verdict against Free Silver Coinage."
Soon after the election, Dodsworth retired because of declining health and turned the paper over to his four sons. Upon the elder Dodsworth's death, John Dodsworth became president and editor. Under the Dodsworths, the paper grew in size and influence. It expanded its business news, domestic and foreign. Editorially, it opposed monopolies, but also opposed government regulation. It stood, as ever, for free and unfettered markets, and a sound banking system.
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