The Reading Company was one of the most powerful corporations in United States history. They constructed one of the first railroads in the United States, which served Philadelphia’s coal industry.
In 1893, the Reading Company, also referred to as the Reading Railroad, went into receivership. Receivership is a fancy term for when a company and its assets are placed in the hands of a third-party, many times, government regulators. In response to its possible collapse, the numerous banks and companies that relied on the Reading’s business went into a state of terror.
That terror quickly corroded public confidence, sending stocks into a tailspin and ultimately scaring European investors into pulling their funds out of American business. People rushed to the banks to withdraw their money, fearing imminent collapse, which, oddly enough, only expedites and encourages collapse.