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This Month in Business History


Posada, José Guadalupe, artist. El fin del mundo es ya cierto todos serán calaveras; adiós todos los vivientes, ahora sí fue de deveras. 1899. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The Year 2000: Y2K

As the world approached the year 2000, there were concerns over how our computers, computer programs/software, integrated systems, etc. would react to the date change from December 31, 1999, to January 1, 2000. As the millennium approached, many wondered if the world's businesses and financial systems would crash. Would airplanes still be able to fly or could there be nuclear accidents? Would these systems be fixed in time to avoid catastrophe?

Salmon P. Chase, Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury Born

Salmon P. Chase, who in the course of his long public career served not only as Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury, but also as a Senator from Ohio, Governor of Ohio, and Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, was born January 13, 1808.

Alexander Hamilton, First Secretary of the Treasury

It may be a bit of a puzzle as to why Lin Manuel Miranda wrote a musical about a Secretary of the Treasury, but it may be a little more obvious why a Business librarian would write blog post about him—the first Secretary of the Treasury had a profound impact on the country and the economy then and now.

Albert Gallatin, 4th Secretary of the Treasury Born

Albert Gallatin was appointed Secretary of the Treasury in January 1802 and remains the longest serving Secretary. He served through all of Jefferson’s term and even continued as Secretary under President James Madison. While Secretary, he worked to reduce the national debt and was responsible for the federal expenses related to the Louisiana Purchase, the planning of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and financing the War of 1812. 

Prohibition Begins

Prohibition began with the ratification of the 18th Amendment on January 16, 1919. For more on Prohibition's history and ultimately its repeal in 1933

Standard Oil Company Established

John D. Rockefeller formed the Standard Oil Company on January 10, 1870 with his business partners and brother. The success of this business empire made Rockefeller one of the world’s first billionaires and a celebrated philanthropist.

Labor Leader Samuel Gompers Born

Samuel Gompers was a labor leader who founded the American Federation of Labor and was involved in many of the seminal labor events of his era.