Publication information
view printer-friendly version
Source: Harper’s Weekly
Source type: magazine
Document type: article
Document title: “The Effect on Wall Street”
Author(s): Lefèvre, Edwin
Date of publication: 21 September 1901
Volume number: 45
Issue number: 2335
Pagination: 946

Lefèvre, Edwin. “The Effect on Wall Street.” Harper’s Weekly 21 Sept. 1901 v45n2335: p. 946.
full text
William McKinley (death: impact on economy).
Named persons
William McKinley.


The Effect on Wall Street

WALL STREET abandoned all hope on Friday. The news of the President’s relapse, coming as it did, so unexpectedly, when the entire country had begun to look upon Mr. McKinley’s recovery as assured, caused almost as great a shock as the news of his death itself would have done. As the day wore on, and the bulletins from Buffalo showed how extremely slight the chances were that the President would live twenty-four hours more, the Street acted, so far as the stock-market was concerned, as though Mr. McKinley had passed away. Those who sold did so in that conviction; those who bought were prepared for the worst. On Saturday expressions of personal grief came before the discussion as to the probable course of the stock-market. At an early hour the news was received that while the Governing Committee of the London Stock Exchange had not taken any official action, the members unanimously decided not to transact any business, as a token of respect to the memory of Mr. McKinley. This in itself was a remarkable demonstration of the sympathy of the British financial world. The various Liverpool exchanges also closed. The Chicago Board of Trade, the New Orleans Cotton Exchange, and other exchanges in other cities, voted not to open. The governors of the New York Stock Exchange, before the opening of the business day, decided that the Exchange would adjourn until Monday, and also that it would close on the day appointed for the funeral.
     While there was every desire on the part of all the members to show a proper appreciation of the national calamity, a deep sense of responsibility and obligation toward the financial world had led to a determination to transact business during at least an hour. The action of the New York Stock Exchange in closing might have been misconstrued in Europe, and possibly even by some people in this country, inconceivable as this may seem. However, the suspension of business in London and elsewhere enabled Wall Street to follow the dictates of its heart. Not one share was bought or sold on the Stock Exchange. Such business as was transacted consisted entirely of the performance of indispensable clerical work.
     It is idle to speculate on how the stock-market would have behaved. The market usually “discounts” events bearing upon general sentiment as well as upon individual securities. There is no doubt, however, that prices would have felt the pressure of the selling by many people who had hoped against hope until the very last; but on the other hand, strong interests were ready to do everything in their power to prevent demoralization. Nor was there indeed demoralization in the minds of the people. A great man had passed away; the greater nation endured; and with it the prosperity his wisdom had done so much to promote.



top of page