"The land has been shaken as by an earthquake, and the foundations of industry are dried, the arm of the worker is palsied, the cunning hand is motionless, and the hum and stir of a busy commerce are changed to the dejected silence of a day of national fasting and humiliation. Already it is computed, more than 15,000 laboring people, who live, and help still more numerous thousands to live, by their toil, are thrown out of employment in the metropolis alone.

And considering how, within only the past three weeks, the predictions and calculations of the most sagacious and cautious have been utterly falsified and confoundedhow those who now conceit that they feel, with their tiny plummets, the solid bottom of the deep, have been for eight long weeks heaving their little leads and crying out ‘bottom’ at every fresh ripple of the troubled watershow all-pervading are the stagnation of business and retrenchment of expenseswe most earnestly implore all who have hearts ‘to feel for others’ woes’ to think of these things, and of what is to be done." - Walt Whitman, on the Panic of 1857.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.