Anxiety in the Marketplace: The Perceived Coal Shortage of 1907–1909


In the late 19th century, the United States, like the rest of the industrialized world, was heavily dependent on coal to power railroads, steamships, and factories. Without plentiful amounts of affordable coal, the industrial economy of the United States would have slowed down considerably. In around 1907, despite the country’s immense known recoverable coal reserves, coal industry experts began to voice their concern about the future of affordable coal in the United States. This case study explores the many different factors that contributed to increased anxiety about affordable coal reserves from 1907 to 1909. That anxiety was reflected in the comments of government officials, conservationists, and business leaders who feared the negative impact of decreased supply and increased prices of coal on the U.S. economy in the future.

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