Trivia Question: Do You Know Me?


QUESTION: Do you know me? I am the subject of several books and in my day everyone knew my name. My father served in Congress, my portrait is on display at the Treasury Department, and several schools, parks and towns have been named in my honor.
A future President of the United States frequently visited my home, but I ended up supporting his opponent. When my large statue was unveiled, the dedication speaker said the war would not have been won without me. At the request of the White House, I raised today’s equivalent of $73 billion for the war effort.
I was a tremendous success as well as a spectacular failure. I was also a “comeback kid,” and I hope my experiences will benefit you. In September of 2008, the investment banking firm Lehman Brothers failed which instigated a global recession.
I can sympathize because I use to be America’s most prominent banker, and when my firm went under it started a chain of events which resulted in a prolonged depression. There are many parallels between my situation and the 2008 events.
I passed away a long time ago, and those of you alive today have never experienced panics similar to my era. They were a fact of life for my Dad, my son and myself. The catastrophe I am associated with began when my firm became the first of over 4000 to fail in a three month period.
The Wall Street crisis became a Main Street crisis. Factories were closed, farm prices dropped and over three million people were out of work. Three years later unemployment hit 15%, and in four years it was approaching 25%. The remaining workers had to absorb significant salary cuts, and thousands of additional businesses failed.
The salary reductions led to strikes in which over 100 people were killed, and this brought the transportation network to a halt. Major railway hubs were destroyed, and coal was not delivered to ships and trains. The distribution of food was halted, and the strikes meant cities did not have the ability to fight major fires so they burnt uncontrollably.
Federal troops had to be sent to seven states to restore order. The credit markets were frozen and we did not have a TARP program or a Federal Reserve system. Similar problems happened over and over again. There were 16 major recessions from 1850 to 1910. They averaged 22 months long, and during those six decades America was in a recession 60 out of every 91 months.
My company has a new name and it is a firm all of you recognize. Do you know my name? What is my major accomplishment, and with what catastrophe will I always be associated?
I am not in this photo. I missed the era of color photography and it is just an illustration of the Gilded Age.

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