Black Friday, the Poem


Arts & Culture

In honor of Black Friday, we bring you a poem and also deals. Everything in our store (except subscriptions and prints) is ten percent off with the code “NOVEMBER.” Who do you know who might like a Paris Review T-Shirt (or a baby-sized onesie) for Christmas?


“The New York Gold Room on ‘Black Friday,’ September 24, 1869.” —E. Benjamin Andrews 1895


While most of us know Black Friday as the nightmarish commerce-fest following Thanksgiving—a term coined in Philadelphia in 1961—in fact the nom de guerre dates back to the nineteenth century. In 1869, the robber barons Jay Gould and James Fisk attempted to corner the gold market, resulting in financial crisis and scandal.

E. C. Stedman, a poet and broker(!), wrote the following:

One Hundred and Sixty! Can’t be true!
What will the bears-at-forty do?
How will the merchants pay their dues?
How will the country stand the news?
What’ll the banks—but listen! hold!
In screwing up the price of gold
To that dangerous, last, particular peg,
They had killed their Goose with the Golden Egg!