Friday, February 27, 2009

1893 to 2009

I was reading an article the other day about a couple in Los Angeles who had to move out of their home and into an Airstream trailer in Oregon on their parents' farm. The couple, who lost their major source of income, had to decide what to do when they could no longer afford their expensive lifestyle. Remind you of anyone, maybe 108 years earlier? In 1891, Sam invested a large sum of money into an upcoming inventor and his typesetting machine. After putting his life savings into this invention, the whole enterprise went under and Sam lost everything. He and his wife, who relied on Sam's income, had to move out of their home in Hartford where they couldn't afford to keep their expensive lifestyle. They moved to Europe where Sam signed on to a year-long worldwide speaking tour. Now, living in European hotels isn't quite the same as living in an Airstream trailer on a farm in Oregon, but it's certainly a similar situation when you look at the time period and how the Clemenses had previously been living.

Whoever said that history repeats itself was a very smart person indeed. The United States suffered its first recession in 1797; since then it has repeated itself many times including 1807, 1837, 1893, 1929 and so on. The 1893 recession began with the failure of the Reading Railroad, costing people their jobs and costing the United States the trust Europe had in us. Banks collapsed (they didn't have billion dollar bailouts back then!) as unemployment rates rose higher and higher. Then and now recessions have had/has an affect on people from all over the country and the world, from all walks of life.

A story like this couple who lost their home in L.A. unfortunately isn't a unique one. While Sam's story was a bit different from most during his time, the underlying aspect of having to leave one's home to work off a debt wasn't.


"It is not worthwhile to try to keep history from repeating itself, for man's character will always make the preventing of the repetitions impossible." -Mark Twain

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