“Preaching Confidence: Portsmouth’s Panic in 1837” Lecture by Professor Jessica Lepler
Friday, June 14th, at 6 p.m. in the Wentworth-Gardner House warehouse, Professor Jessica Lepler will give a talk about the Panic of 1837 and how the financial repercussions hit home for the residents of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. In the spring of 1837, the worst financial crisis in the first century of U.S. history destroyed credit markets, banks, property values, and jobs. Panic began in the international trade centers of London, New Orleans, and New York. But before long, economic woes spread throughout the nation, including to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. As unemployment escalated and investments vanished, individuals turned on one another. Creditors sued debtors; debtors absconded. Husbands chastised wives’ consumerism; wives blamed husbands for risking their families’ futures. Some panicked people even took their own lives. Sensing an opportunity to redeem souls, many ministers interpreted panic as divine punishment and called for a revival of faith. But not in Portsmouth. On May 14, 1837, as banks throughout the nation shut their doors, the Rev. Andrew Peabody exhorted his Unitarian parishioners in Portsmouth’s South Church to renew their confidence not in the divine but in capitalism. But could confidence be Portsmouth’s savior? Jessica M. Lepler is an associate professor of history at the University of New Hampshire. Her first book, The Many Panics of 1837: People, Politics, and the Creation of a Transatlantic Financial Crisis (2013), won the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic’s James Broussard Best First Book Prize. She is currently researching and writing a book about an 1820s attempt to build a transoceanic canal through Lake Nicaragua. To reserve your seat, please call (603) 436-4406 or email Jennifer King at email@example.com. Please include your name, contact information, and total number of attendees. Donations are welcome in support of the Wentworth-Gardner Historic House.