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FANCY CITIES - William Leggett, Democratick Editorials: Essays in Jacksonian Political Economy 
Democratic Editorials: Essays in Jacksonian Political Economy, Foreword by Lawrence H. White (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1984).
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September 14, 1836.
Title added by Sedgwick. Text abridged.
The vast and sudden increase which the paper money circulation of this country has undergone within the last eighteen months is the cause of the feverish thirst of riches which the community now exhibits; and whatever shall check that circulation, and turn it back upon the banks, will arrest the disease, but arrest it with a violence that to many will prove fatal, and give a fearful shock to all. Paper money is, to the people of this country, the insane root that takes the reason prisoner; and they can be restored to sanity only by withholding such stimulating and dangerous aliment. As it now is, their appetite grows by what it feeds on. The demand for money increases with each succeeding day; and every new loan of bank credit but gives rise to new projects of speculation, each wilder and more chimerical than the last.
The effect of this pervading spirit of speculation (or spirit of gambling, as it might with more propriety be called, for it is gambling, and gambling of the most desperate kind) on the morals of the community is dreadful. Its direct and manifest tendency is to blunt men’s moral perceptions, and accustom them by degrees to arts and devices of traffic which an honest, unsophisticated mind would shrink from with horror as frauds of the most flagitious dye. It creates a distaste for the ordinary pursuits of industry; it disinclines the mind from gradual accumulation in some regular vocation, and kindles an intense desire, like that expressed in the prayer of Ortogal of Basra, “Let me grow suddenly rich!” To this gambling spirit of the age we may directly trace the most of those prodigious frauds the discovery of which has recently startled the public mind. “Startled the public mind,” did we say? The phrase is wrong. The public were not startled. They heard the stories with the most stoical indifference; and if any exclamations were uttered, they conveyed rather a sentiment of commiseration for the criminals, than one of detestation for their stupendous crimes.
But the day of the madness of speculation is drawing to a close. The time must come, nor can it be remote, when some financial or commercial revulsion will throw back the stream of paper circulation to its source, and many a goodly vessel, which had ventured too boldly on the current, will be left by the reflux stranded on its shores. Circumstances may yet defer the evil day for awhile, but it cannot be far off. A failure of the cotton crop, a slight reduction of prices in Europe, or any one of the thousand contingencies to which trade is perpetually liable, will give a shock to the widely expanded currency of the country, which will be felt with ruinous force through every vein and artery of business. Wo unto them in that day who do not now take timely caution. Their cities and towns and villages, which they are now so fertile in planning, as if they thought men might be multiplied as rapidly as paper money, will remain untenanted and desolate memorials of their madness, and the voice of sorrow and mourning, instead of the din of present unreal prosperity, will be heard through the land.