In the 1790s, the Bank of New York and the Bank of the United States issued the first ever stock certificate creations of publicly traded stocks for American banks, water utilities, and railroads. Over 400 businesses were created in America’s first two decades of existence, and eighteen of them had their shares traded on a weekly basis (for the rest, you would have to physically contact the owners and get them to sign over their stock certificates to your own in exchange for cash. This was a massive inconvenience, although it came with the side effect of making people actually understood that buying stock meant ownership, and the inconvenience hopefully led to extra contemplation before buying just any old stock willy nilly).
In the lead up to the American Civil War, you had two tracks of stocks that dominated the marketplace—the insurance/bank stocks and the transportation/manufacturing companies. In a sign … Read the rest of this article!