Friday, November 20, 2015

This Day In History...The Cuban Missile Crisis (Nov 20)

On this day in history, we look back 50 years to the end of one of the more important events in our nation’s history-the “Cuban missile crisis”, a major event in the lives of most of our parents and grandparents in that it was really the first time American citizens were made aware just how vulnerable they could be to nuclear weapons.  For while the Cuban missile crisis primarily took place during October, it wasn’t until November 20, 1962 that President John F. Kennedy ended the quarantine of Cuba, effectively bringing a total end to the crisis.

Coming out of World War 2, in which the USSR and USA were the largest forces, working together to eliminate a common threat (Germany) there was a great deal of distrust and tension between the two superpowers.  The Soviets were put off by America’s refusal to consider them a real part of the international community, and by the delay in America entering the second world war, while Americans were distrustful and dismissive of communism.  Activists were hard at work, demonizing communism at home, and the perceived threat from those communists in the USSR grew into a nation wide fear that fueled foreign policy decisions.

In 1946, diplomat George Kennan wrote the now famous “Long Telegram”, essentially outlining the strategy of “containment” that the US would employ against the Soviets.  Over the next 15 years the US would quadruple it’s military budget, beginning an arms race with the USSR, both powers competing with the other to develop the more destructive, more dominant weapons and sabotage the others’ efforts in doing so along the way.

Following the atom bombs the US dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it was pretty clear to the world that nuclear type bombs were the route to dominance.  Throughout the late 40’s and early 50’s both countries worked feverishly to develop such technology, testing A and H bombs as part of their effort to one up the other.  Throughout this time in America, pop culture fed off the growing fears of the Cold War, with many movies and other forms of entertainment heavily focusing on the possibility of nuclear war, bombs going off, and even mutant creatures.  In response people built bomb shelters, drilled in preparation for such a conflict, and generally lived in a great deal of fear at times.  This all came to a head in late 1962.

The real beginning of the missile crisis, was in 1959 following the takeover of Cuba by Fidel Castro.  Castro promptly aligned himself with the USSR, and became extremely reliant upon the Soviets for economic and military support.  As the two nations grew closer, their relationship evolved through one common enemy: the United States.  In October of 1962, the US discovered just how deep those feelings and that relationship ran, when the pilot of an American U-2 spyplane took photos of a nuclear armed Soviet SS-4 medium range ballistic missile in the process of being assembled and installed.

Upon hearing of this discovery, President Kennedy immediately formed what was known as the “executive committee” or “ExComm” for short.  Over the next 13 days, President Kennedy and his team entered into the most important negotiations in American history, as he faced down Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, over their nuclear missiles, now being installed just 90 miles from American soil in Florida.

For 13 days negotiations continued between the two nations’ leaders.  Negotiations were tough, Soviets felt much more secure with missiles in Cuba, as the US had many sites in eastern Europe with their missiles, aimed at the USSR.  In what has become typical US fashion on foreign policy however, Kennedy felt that what was good for us, was not good for them and that the presence of Soviet missiles so close to US soil was unacceptable.  To that end, Kennedy ordered the US Navy to completely quarantine the island of Cuba, encircling the land and not allowing anyone in or out.  Although Soviet ships came, none ultimately tested that blockade, stopping just short and respecting the line drawn by the American naval forces.

With the quarantine set, JFK was able to turn his attention to the problem at hand-the missiles already in Cuba.  While negotiations continued, American and Cuban citizens alike grew restless.  Cubans of course, encircled by the American navy while Americans were on edge with the thought of nuclear war literally at their doorstep.  Ultimately however, a deal was struck-as was no doubt the idea in putting the missiles in Cuba to begin with from a Soviet perspective.

On October 26, 1962 Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev sent two successive messages to JFK and “ExComm”.  The first offered the deal that the US officially accepted: we’ll remove our missiles from Cuba if you promise not to invade Cuba.  The second was a less public-but still accepted-deal on top of the first; take our missiles out of Turkey and we’ll take our missiles out of Cuba.  JFK ultimately accepted both deals-although only the one publicly-and the crisis was averted.  Robert Kennedy delivered the message to the Soviet diplomats himself, and on October 28 the crisis came to it’s official end.  Nearly a month later, following the removal of the final missile JFK ended the Cuban quarantine, withdrawing US naval forces from around the island.

The aftermath of this crisis was-somewhat oddly-a closer relationship between the two superpowers.  In 1963 a hotline was established, creating a direct link between DC and Moscow, with the idea of avoiding future conflicts like we saw in Cuba.  While the Cold War would last almost another 30 years and outlast both Kennedy and Khrushchev, October and November of 1962 were perhaps the most important months in the 46 years (1945-1991) that are labeled as the Cold War.  50 years later, regardless of who was right and who was wrong, the US stands alone and the USSR as something most Americans see on an old map and think “what is that?”  One way or another, those two months in 1962 taught everyone in the world one thing: nukes are not something to play around with, and talking often ends with everyone happier than war does.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

This Day In History...The Palmer Peninsula (Nov 17)

On this day in history we’ll go beyond the borders of the United States, yet still bring you a piece of American history.  For on this day in history, Captain Nathaniel Brown Palmer became the first American to see Antarctica, forever earning his place in history and on our maps when the Palmer Peninsula in Antarctica was named after him following his discovery.  While that named was challenged by the British in later years, even the compromise bears his name: The Palmer Land.

Nathaniel Palmer was born in Stonington, Conn. on August 8, 1799 to a shipyard owner.  Growing up around ships and the sea, it was only natural Palmer would end up on a ship and so he did, signing on as a seaman on a blockade-runner in the War of 1812 at the age of 14.  By 1818 he found himself as the second mate aboard a sealing vessel whose primary hunting ground was located near the newly discovered South Shetland Islands.

As one would expect, Palmer’s career progressed quickly, and by 1820 he was the captain of his own 47 foot sloop Hero.  As a part of a sealing fleet under the command of Benjamin Pendleton, Palmer hunted in the area of the South Shetland islands and Deception Island for new seal rookeries, and while doing so rediscovered the peninsula that British captain Edward Bransfield had discovered and mapped earlier that year, in January of 1820.  The British had named the peninsula “Trinity Land”, but following Palmer’s discovery the Americans named it the “Palmer Peninsula”, setting up the conflict and ultimate establishment of “Palmer Land” as the name years later.

Palmer returned to Stonington following this expedition, where he put together a new expedition.  On that ensuing expedition on which he captained the James Monroe and searched alongside British captain George Powell the two discovered the South Oarkney Islands, which they charted originally as the Powell Islands.  On this expedition they charted a more specific portion of the Antarctic Peninsula as “Palmer Land”, although even today the entire peninsula itself is often referred to simply as the Palmer Peninsula.  Despite extensive hunting in the Drake Passage throughout the past couple centuries, the area remains vibrant with life, particularly the humpback whale, pictured here.

Palmer spent the remainder of his days at sea, building a very noteworthy career as a merchant marine.  He made at least one trip from Boston to Hong Kong, and put a lifetime of knowledge on the water to work as the co-developer of the 19th century “Clipper” style ship.  Today he leaves his mark on the world in many ways, from the Palmer Peninsula to his 16 room Victorian mansion that still serves as a tourist attraction and was named a National Historic landmark in 1996 in his hometown of Stonington, Conn..  The most aptly named remembrance of Palmer however, has to be an “Icebreaker” ship, an ice capable research ship currently in service to the US National Science Foundation.  The ship was built for the NSF by Edison Chouest Offshore, and was launched in 1992.  Edison Chouest still owns the ship, however it remains in the service of the NSF.

The Nathaniel Brown house can still be toured today, in
Stonington, Conn.
In a time when many ship captains made their mark transporting slaves and selling humans, Captain Nathaniel Brown Palmer was able to make an honest living as one of the most successful merchant marines of his time.  He grew up around the sea, lived on the sea, and died at the ripe old age of 77, just about 6 weeks short of his 78th birthday, on June 21, 1877.  In his later years Palmer was very active in pleasure yachting, and died after returning to San Francisco from one final trip to China.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

This Day in History...Georgetown University Opens (Nov 15)

Through now, all my contributions have been so focused on negative happenings “on this day in history” that I wanted to take this day to write about a positive change in history.  On this day in history, in 1791 the doors to the first U.S. Catholic College-Georgetown University-opened for business.

The American revolution paved the way for religious freedom in our country, and when the Treaty of Paris was signed near the end of 1783, a plans for Catholic University were picked up almost immediately.  John Carroll-newly appointed head of the Catholic Church in America-began putting clergymen together to work on the plans, and by 1789 Carroll was ready to act on those plans, purchasing property that would later become known as “Dahlgren Quadrangle”.

With the property purchased, and the plans approved it was a short two years before the school was ready to operate.  On November 15, 1791 they officially opened their doors for business, and accepted their first student precisely one week later; on the 22nd.  That first student would be the first in a long line of successful former students of the University, a Mr. William Gaston.  Gaston would later become a Congressman, elected to represent North Carolina.  One of the most amazing things about Gaston?  He was just thirteen years old on that day in 1791, making him an extraordinary student in many ways.  Gaston did not ultimately graduate from Georgetown however, as he was forced to leave shortly after his acceptance due to illness, and eventually graduated from Princeton instead.

Since opening their doors, Georgetown University has been home to some of the most successful and important people our country has seen, including 12 heads of state, and countless other politicians.  Six current Senators and 13 seats in the House of Representatives studied there, as well as many members of royalty across the globe.  One thing is for sure-even if indirectly, this day in history helped build and mold the characters for many more important days to come.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

This Day In History...The Tehran Embassy Takeover (Nov. 4)

Throughout this election process, American-Iranian relations have been a main topic of conversation.  Whether through an ad on radio or television, talk shows, conversation with friends, or from the candidates themselves we as citizens have heard no end of analysis, breakdown, and sometimes fear-mongering on the topic.  What we don’t often hear, is much about the history of the connection between the two countries.  On this day in history, 33 years ago however, ties between the two countries took a permanent turn, perhaps forever setting the stage for the strained relations we see now.

Hostages pictured here, from the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979
1979 was a chaotic year in Iran, and really the end of a chaotic decade in the area as a whole.  Since 1953, when “The Shah of Persia” Mohammed Reza Pahleri was put into power through a CIA sponsored coup over the democratically elected Mohammed Mossadegh, Iranians had grown increasingly weary of American support of the dictator.  In January of 1979-lead by Ayatollah Kyomenei from his exile in France-what had merely been protests exploded into an all out revolution, from which the Shah fled with his family.

With his countrymen seeking to put him on trial for crimes against his own citizens, the Shah was on the run-and would never stop running.  On October 22, 1979 the Shah was allowed into New York City in order to receive treatment for cancer.  After putting him in power in ‘53, and supporting his regime throughout the 26 years following that-including naming the Shah the primary guardian of US interests in the Gulf-Iranians had had enough of American involvement in their politics, and thus his acceptance into New York was just another expression of support, and the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Thirteen days later, the citizens of Iran would make their own statement.

On November 4, 1979 while several hundred thousand students were marching through the streets, in an effort to commemorate the deaths of students shot on the campus of Tehran University a year earlier, a group of a few hundred students broke off and headed for the American embassy.  Upon reaching the embassy, this group scaled the walls and forced the doors open.  When they found they met no resistance from the Iranian Republic Guard Corps (IRGC) men stationed there, or the local police, this group pressed on, determined to take the embassy.  US Marines shot tear gas into the crowd, but they were able to secure the compound, taking 52 American hostages in the process.

The takeover was by and large non-violent, and one hostage taker even interviewed with reporters over the phone, assuring them that the hostages were in no real danger, that the takeover was merely a display of power, and that the hostages would be released in just a few days.  Despite these assurances, American concerns were not alleviated, and as days turned into weeks it became more and more clear that these hostages would not be released in any timely manner at all.

Almost immediately following the takeover, Iranian revolution leaders Mohsen Rezaei and Mohsen Rafiqdast arrived at the embassy, catching employees in the act of destroying classified documents.  They were able to stop them from destroying everything, and later used some of these documents against members of the transition government.  The quick arrival of these leaders, coupled with the fact that 45 of the 79 hostage takers identified were current or future IRGC members made many suspect that the embassy takeover was more planned than spontaneous.  These suspicions were confirmed when it was learned that many of the crowd that took the embassy actually brought sandwiches for lunch-packed the night before at the canteen of the Revolutionary Guards.  This is also likely part of the reason there was no resistance at the embassy-as the IRGC was charged with it’s defense.

Amidst chants of “Khomenei struggles, Carter trembles”, “Death to America’, and “America is the number one enemy” from the thousands of supporters that now surrounded the embassy, the leaders attempted to open negotiations with the Carter administration, demanding simply that the Shah be returned from his hospital bed in New York to Iran to stand trial for his crimes.

The Shah never did return to Iran, traveling to Panama following his surgery, and then to Egypt where he died on July 27, 1980, and not on the gallows students had constructed outside the embassy, complete with a poster which read “For the Shah”.

The 52 American hostages were held a total of 444 days, throughout the entire 1980 election cycle, and released minutes after Reagan was sworn into office.  Many attribute Carter’s loss to the Iranian hostage crisis, and his inability to bring it to an end.  In Carter’s defense he did everything he could short of sending the Shah to his death in Iran, from negotiations to a botched rescue attempt that ended with 8 American lives lost, 2 planes destroyed, and one dead Iranian civilian, nothing worked to end the crisis.

On January 19, 1981 with the signing of the Algiers Accords in Algeria, the hostage crisis was finally over.  The chief points in the Accords were that the US would cease interfering in Iranian internal affairs, and would remove trade sanctions on Iran.  In return, the American hostages would be freed and any Iranian debts to US institutions would be paid.  On January 20, 1981 just a few minutes after Ronald Reagan was sworn into office as the President of the United States, the American hostages were officially freed, and the crisis was finally over.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

This Day In History...The Convict Lease

On October 31, most of us annually don masks and descend upon the neighborhoods of our city or town, seeking the answer to one question: trick or treat?  In eastern Tennessee in 1891 however, miners donned masks for a much more serious and worthy cause, freeing prisoners being forcibly used as free labor, and giving them the chance at a new life.  In today’s version of “This Date in History” I’ll remind you of events that touch on issues at the forefront of political battle today, such as unions, racism, and the free market.  I’ll also talk about how October 31, 1891 was a turning point in what became known as “The Coal Creek War”.

The "Convict lease" system was nothing short of legalized
slavery, and lasted for about 30 years after the Civil War.
“The Convict Lease” was an agreement originally worked out in Tennessee, which quickly spread across the south in the years following the Civil War.  With hundreds of thousands of freed slaves-many released with no more property than the clothes on their back-roaming the south, petty crime had spiked, and without the use of those slaves, production had declined.  The southern economy hadn’t yet figured out how to work without the use of forced labor, and in an effort to both rebuild the south and continue to grow, they turned to an old reliable tactic of production: forced labor.

“Convict leasing” really began for the first time seriously in eastern Tennessee, when Thomas O’Conner, a professional card player with a very deep wallet and some serious political connections negotiated (and by “negotiated” I mean bribed) the Tennessee legislation into a 5 year lease of what amounted to the state’s entire prison system for the price of $150,000.  By 1871, O’Conner had worked out an agreement with the Tennessee Coal Mining Company as the primary lessee of state prisoners for use as coal miners, and then additionally as railroad laborers.

Opponents to the system pointed out it’s similarity to slavery, with the judge and courts acting as traders, while wardens played the part of owners.  The program also used local police to feed them prisoners, as working conditions were hard, leading to a very high turnover rate-as high as 50% in some areas-due to death from incidents involving explosions (dynamite), landslides, cave collapses, and flooding.  Local police were happy to oblige, picking up sweeps for drunks and vagrants when the need for labor was high, who would then be sentenced to anywhere from 60 to 90 days of hard labor-if they managed to survive.

American historian David Oshinsky writes:
“Railroad fever was sweeping the state, and unskilled labor was in short supply.  After little debate and much bribery, the legislators turned over the entire prison system to a professional card gambler named Thomas O’Conner for $150,000 on a 5 year lease.  By 1871, state convicts were laying track and mining coal from Memphis to Knoxville.  Each morning their urine was collected and sold to local tanneries by the barrel.  When they died, their unclaimed bodies were purchased by the Medical School at Nashville for the students to practice on.”

Forced labor from convicts helped ease the pain of the Civil
War on the south's farming system, and was responsible
for a good deal of construction on the country's new railroad.
He goes on to talk about the flexibility of local laws, according to the company’s labor needs:
“The numbers ebbed and flowed according to the labor needs of the coal companies and the revenue needs of the counties and the state.  When times were tight, local police would sweep the street for vagrants, drunks, and thieves.  Hundreds of blacks would be arrested, put on trial, found guilty, sentenced to 60 to 90 days, plus court costs, and then delivered to a “hard labor agent”, who leased them to the mines.  In an average year, 97% of Alabama’s county convicts had “colored” written next to their names.”

Mine owners found convict laborers were not very cooperative, often sabotaging their own work, or the mines in an effort to get time off due to broken equipment, or poor quality of work and thus a decreased demand for their product. To combat this problem, many coal companies mixed in free laborers as well, hoping that with enough men whose jobs could be lost and who wanted to be there, they’d be able to better combat the issues with quality and sabotage.  Unfortunately, adding these free laborers into an abusive work environment introduced the ability to organize-or at least attempt to.

Throughout the 1880’s, free laborers organized to protest such issues as company checkweight men, who routinely underweighed their production to save money, payment in legal tender vs. “scrip” (basically a company credit, perhaps to the company store), and the Convict lease, which robbed free workers of any leverage negotiating fair wages, or the ability to strike, since they could be replaced by workers at ⅙ of the cost of a free laborer.

By the early 1890’s the struggle between workers and ownership in the coal mines and railroads of eastern Tennessee was flirting with real violence, having gone from protesting and lobbying to fire setting.  The workers’ frustrations mounted, and on July 5, 1891 the TCMC locked them out, replacing them with convict laborers; the straw that broke the already fragile peace between the workers and company.  Nine days later, on the 14th of July workers and their allies would raid the convict stockade in Briceville, breaking their fellow convicts out.  The convicts would quickly be returned, only to be released in another raid 6 days later, on the 20th.

Over the next few months, miners would attack the stockades in Briceville and Coal Creek, and Governor Buchanan would convene with legislators to discuss the convict lease, partly due to the rebellion, but also in part due to the company being 11 months behind on “rent” of the convicts.  On October 31, 1891 however, things took a real turn as the miners’ rebellion made a significant change to their strategy: they started actually freeing their comrades.

On the night of October 31, three days after mining leaders had resigned and issued statements officially endorsing and encouraging pacifism in the resolution of their problems, they donned masks and lead 1,000 armed workers in a charge on Briceville’s stockade and mine. After overcoming and disarming the militia stationed there, the miners freed their comrades, supplying them with clean clothes, and putting them on the train to Knoxville, effectively freeing them from the convict lease.  

Some prisoners remained behind and moved on with their liberators to Coal Creek, where they freed still more prisoners in the same fashion, resulting in 300 freed prisoners that night.  Over the next year the miners would continue with this strategy, freeing most of the forced laborers throughout the summer of 1892.  A few more attacks would follow as negotiations carried on, ultimately ending for good when Tennessee became the first state to abolish the convict lease, under the leadership of former pro-lease judge and sitting Governor at the time, Governor Peter Turney.

Looking back, it’s hard not to see the cycle created by greed, both through the government accepting bribes and a company purely seeking profit and let loose on the free market, completely unhindered by regulation.  First, society released these slaves with nothing, then when they had to steal to eat, or couldn’t find housing, would be locked up as vagrants and thieves, sentenced to months of hard labor which they weren’t likely to survive.  Stuck in this cycle, there didn’t appear to be much hope, and for 25 years this policy dominated most of the southern states, as they were reconstructed on the blood, sweat, and tears of the unpaid black worker in much the same way they’d originally been built in the first place.  Today, locals claim that on a quiet night, you can hear the screams of the miners who died in one of the greatest disasters of that time; the Fraterville mining disaster, which killed 184 of 187 men living in the area.  But that is a story for another day in history.

On this day in history, October 31, coal miners in eastern Tennessee struck a critical blow in a bloody war that began as a labor movement, and ended in the liberation of thousands of forced laborers.  This generation of Tennesseans were surrounded by war veterans; their fathers had fought in the Civil War, their sons would fight in World War 1, and their grandsons in World War 2.  This generation fought an important battle as well however, ensuring fair treatment for miners, railroad workers, and laborers all across the South, as the economy and country healed from the Civil War.

Labor unions have certainly grown, and evolved into colossal organizations that often forget their roots.  The dream of a “free market” dominates certain political airwaves, and most seem to have forgotten the origin of labor unions, and the difficult times that existed prior to some of the regulations that were instituted for a reason, in some cases, what seems like a very long time ago.

Friday, October 30, 2015

This Day in History: Battle of the Iron Bridge (Oct 30)

October 30, 637 CE, the Battle of the Iron Bridge, at Antioch in Roman Syria came to an end.  This was a battle waged between Muslims (The Rashiduns) and the Byzantine army-or the Eastern Roman army-the primary military force of the Byzantine forces, and direct descendant of the Roman army.  The battle was fought near a 9 arch stone bridge by the River Orontes, about 12 miles from the city of Antioch itself, with the Byzantine forces defending the city, and the Muslim forces on the attack.  While details of the battle itself were not recorded, it is known that Khalid ibn al-Walid (a companion of the prophet Mohammed) lead the Muslim forces.  The Byzantine forces ultimately surrendered, making just one of hundreds of victories al-Walid would pile up on his resume before his dismissal from the military in the year 638.

With two forces totalling 40,000-50,000 soldiers between them, the battle claimed more than 10,000 lives, and waged on for days, maybe weeks, finally ending in a siege laid by the Muslim invaders against the city itself.  Following this decisive victory, al-Walid moved his forces south, where he continued his victorious march, claiming most of north-western Syria with little difficulty.  Ultimately, al-Walid would unify all of Arabia under one single political entity: the Caliphate.  By the end of his career, al-Walid had achieved hero-like status in his community, due primarily to his military prowess, and earned the nickname "Sword of God".  This was part of the reason for his dismissal, which seemed to be due in part to jealousy of a cousin of his; Umar.  He lived his final years out in Emesa, dying just about 4 years after being dismissed from the military.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

This Day In History...Black Tuesday

As our country finds itself trying to scratch and claw our way out of the worst financial crisis in many of our lifetimes, I often find it useful to look back at historical times of hardship, both at the mistakes that were made leading up to it, and the actions taken afterwards to resolve those issues.  On this day in history, we’ll look primarily at the start of the Great Depression, in particular a day known as “Black Tuesday”.

On Oct 29, 1929 the stock market crashed
and sent the country's economy into a tailspin
The 1920’s were known as the “Roaring Twenties” for two reasons: a rise in organized crime in reaction to Prohibition, and a raging economy, primarily throughout the first half of the decade.  That rage however, was built off of optimism, not real success.  Following the first World War, a feeling of patriotism and optimism swept through the country.  Investors caught the optimistic feeling, pouring money into the stock market as prices soared, with the Dow Jones reaching 350 On October 10, 1929 for the first time in it’s history.

The market couldn’t bear the strain, and began to buckle.  The first hiccup came on September 18, 1929, a day originally labeled “Black Thursday”.  On this day, the market took a sharp turn downward-however the relatively new Federal Reserve System was able to stall the crash in the immediate time frame, however by the end of the next month things had taken a turn for the worse.

On what would become the real “Black Thursday” (October 24, 1929) the market took a sharp turn downwards at the opening bell, dropping 11% to start the day off.  A group of banks put their collective financial weight and buying power behind a man named Richard Whitney, who attempted a tried and true method of stopping the crisis by staging large purchases of certain “blue chip” stocks.  This method had worked in 1893 and 1907 to help pull the country out of potential financial tailspin, and for a moment it seemed like it would work again, as by the end of the day the market had regained some ground, closing at the end of the day down only 6%.

The following week however, the market would finish tearing the heart out of the American financial system, dropping 13% on “Black Monday” (October 28, 1929) losing 38.33 points.  The following day on “Black Tuesday” the market finished it’s plummet, losing 30 more points to shed another 12%.  This on a day that the Dow Jones set a record that would stand for another 40 years; trading a total of 16 million shares amidst wide speculation that President Herbert Hoover would veto the pending Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act.

The Glass-Steagall Act eventually helped pull the
country out of it's financial tailspin.
The market would experience a brief one day recovery on the 30th, but over the next several weeks it would continue to crash, ultimately bottoming out around 198 points (from that previous high of 350).  Over the next two decades the market would continue to slide, and then slowly begin to build itself back up.  In fact it would be more than another 25 years-November 23, 1954-before the market would fully recover and hit that pre-crash high of 350 again, as economists tried to figure out the best way to regulate things and avoid sharp crashes like that of 1929 again.

Such regulatory measures as the Glass-Steagall Act grew out of the experiences of 1929, in much the same way regulatory measures such as Sarbanes-Oxley or the Dodd/Frank has grown out of the financial failures our country has experienced over the last decade or so.  The question history forces us to ask today is the same that it forced economists to ask in 1929 however; will the same policies that have worked in the past work this time?  Only time will tell...