A number of hypotheses attempt to disentangle the “true” causes of the Panic of 1837 from domestic and international factors that came into play as the crisis approached. I analyze U.S. government documents and contemporary newspapers to reconsider the role of domestic factors. These sources place neither the official distribution of the federal surplus nor an international shock at the center. Rather, a series of interbank transfers of government balances and a policy-induced increase in the demand for coin in the Western states drained the largest New York City banks of their specie reserves and rendered the panic inevitable.
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