1. The Panic of 1873: America Stops Horsing Around
During the late 19th century, the American economy relied on horses the way it depends on gas today. Horses unloaded cargo from ports, transported goods from city to city, worked the farms, supported the army, and served as the emergency vehicles of choice. Without them, the American workforce would have ground to a halt.
And that’s exactly what happened in 1872, when an estimated 99 percent of all horses in America contracted equine influenza. . . . At the height of the panic, as many as 20,000 businesses failed, a third of all railroads went bankrupt, and unemployment spiked to almost 15 percent.