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Spreading fear, communicating trust: writing letters and telegrams during the Panic of 1873


Davies, Hannah Catherine (2016). Spreading fear, communicating trust: writing letters and telegrams during the Panic of 1873. History and Technology, 32(2):159-177.

Abstract

This article analyses how journalists and businessmen used and perceived the Atlantic cable following the failure of New York banking house Jay Cooke & Co. in September 1873, an event which sparked stock markets panics in Vienna and Berlin. It is argued that while bankers successfully used telegraphic cables to communicate intelligence such as price information, letters proved superior as a medium for establishing personal trust, as the case of New York banker George Opdyke shows. Journalists, too, were critical of the telegraph’s performance, blaming the paucity of information available on the technology’s supposedly inherent deficiencies. This criticism, it is argued, was ultimately based on the ‘imagined reception’ of cables by their senders, as well as on the persistence of earlier imagined uses of telegraphy. These, I argue, continued to inform contemporary expectations of telegraphy’s performance.

Abstract

This article analyses how journalists and businessmen used and perceived the Atlantic cable following the failure of New York banking house Jay Cooke & Co. in September 1873, an event which sparked stock markets panics in Vienna and Berlin. It is argued that while bankers successfully used telegraphic cables to communicate intelligence such as price information, letters proved superior as a medium for establishing personal trust, as the case of New York banker George Opdyke shows. Journalists, too, were critical of the telegraph’s performance, blaming the paucity of information available on the technology’s supposedly inherent deficiencies. This criticism, it is argued, was ultimately based on the ‘imagined reception’ of cables by their senders, as well as on the persistence of earlier imagined uses of telegraphy. These, I argue, continued to inform contemporary expectations of telegraphy’s performance.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of History
Dewey Decimal Classification:900 History
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > History and Philosophy of Science
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:29 Oct 2018 08:22
Last Modified:31 Jul 2020 02:52
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:0734-1512
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/07341512.2016.1217597
Related URLs:https://www.recherche-portal.ch/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=ebi01_prod000025924&context=L&vid=ZAD&search_scope=default_scope&tab=default_tab&lang=de_DE (Library Catalogue)

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