Panic of 1866

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The Panic of 1866 was an international financial downturn that accompanied the failure of Overend, Gurney and Company in London, and the corso forzoso abandonment of the silver standard in Italy.

In Britain the economic impacts are held partially responsible for public agitation for political reform in the months leading up to the 1867 Reform Act. The crisis led to a sharp rise in unemployment to 8% and a subsequent fall in wages across the country. Similar to the "knife and fork" motives of Chartism in the late 1830s and 1840s, the financial pressure on the British working class led to rising support for greater representation of the people. Groups such as the Reform League saw rapid increases in membership and the organisation spearheaded multiple demonstrations against the political establishment such as the Hyde Park riot of 1866. Ultimately the popular pressure that arose from the banking crisis and the recession that followed can be held partly responsible for the enfranchisement of 1.1 million people as a result of Disraeli's reform bill. [1]

The Panic decimated shipbuilding in London, and the Millwall Iron Works collapsed.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Malcolm Pearce and Geoffrey Stewart, British Political History 1867-1990, published 1992
  • Charles P. Kindleberger. Historical Economics: Art or Science? University of California Press, 1990, p. 310. [1]
  • Robert Baxter. The panic of 1866 with its lessons on the currency act. London, Longmans, Green (1866); New York: B. Franklin (1969).