Don’t miss the ultimate foodie event, The Baltimore Sun's Secret Supper

Eagle Archive: Budget and the economy were worries in 1837 ... and still are

This is the time of the year when many citizens turn their attention to the budget processes of Carroll County government and its eight municipalities. No matter where you live in Carroll County, money matters.

Statewide, Gov.Martin O'Malleyhas announced that on Monday, May 14, the General Assembly will get together for a couple of days to raise taxes and enact more laws, rules and regulations. (For more on this read, "Delegation says county stands to lose $1 million in special session," on

The governor's announcement coincided with Chief Executive magazine's annual survey of CEOs in which Maryland was ranked 40th out of 50 states for its structural and macroeconomic approach to business.

Yes, that means that only 10 other states are considered to have a greater anti-business approach than Maryland.

Of course, the General Assembly is understandably upset that 40 states have a better business-friendly tax and regulatory environment. Perhaps by the end of the upcoming special taxing session, Maryland has a good chance at being the No. 1 most anti-business state in the country.

One must have goals.

Nevertheless, the economy, unemployment, taxes and quality of life remain at the forefront of concern for many Carroll County residents as this fall's statewide and presidential election looms on the horizon.

Historically, these issues are nothing new to our county. Somehow, Carroll Countians always rise to the occasion. The ability to overcome financial challenges may, in part, have something to do with the collective historic personality of Carroll County.

When Carroll was formed by an act of the General Assembly on Jan. 19, 1837, the country was entering one of the worst depressions in our nation's history.

Nowadays, many folks will utilize the Great Depression of the 1930s as a benchmark when measuring adversity - and by all accounts it was a harrowing experience.

However, for an economic historian, two depressions that were arguably worse were the Panic of 1837 and the Panic of 1893. It was not until after the Panic of 1907 that such economic upheavals were referred to as recessions or depressions.

There are strong arguments — not shared by me — that the Panic of 1893 was the country's worse.

It is my considered view that the Panic of 1837 was the worse, that is, since the nation was formed. It lasted approximately six years.

In many respects, that economic upheaval was very similar to the challenges of today, in that the origins was a lack of liquidity in the financial markets — or put another way, the problem was credit, and the inability to access the necessary capital to run the country.

In another way, it was different. For example, according to Carol Lee in "Legacy of the Land:"

"A bushel of wheat sold for $2.25 in 1836, but brought as little as 80 cents in 1843.

"Likewise, corn went down from $1.01 to 41.5 cents a bushel."

That, my friends, is an upheaval that hits you in the bread basket.

When is not keeping a wary eye on Annapolis, Kevin Dayhoff may be reached at

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad