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A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Just in Case You Thought It Was Something New

    War always brings with it an increased price of necessary living
commodities. The War of 1812 was no exception to this inflexible consequence.
Sugar reached thirty-five cents a pound, coffee was forty cents, and all classes
of cotton and woolen goods commanded prices as high in proportion. ...
  
    The era of speculation, however, was abroad through the country, the
extremely high prices received by the farmers for their products added to the
great abundance of paper money issued by corporations, and individuals all
attended to promote "get rich" schemes, to which the people fell easy victims.
In Northampton county the land speculations of Nicholas Kraemer, who resided at
Nelighsville, in Allen township, gained a wide field of prominence. He inflated
the value of lands from thirty dollars an acre to one hundred dollars an acre,
and so successful were his operations that many of the steady-going East
Pennsylvanians paid for a lot of land three times the price their own judgment
would approve. Swamplands and mountain lands were disposed of at fancy prices,
and so gullible were the people that Kraemer carried on successful operations
from 1802-16. The boom at last reached its height, then came the time when
Kraemer failed to appear at his headquarters at the Sun tavern in Bethlehem,
where he had dispensed his hospitality with the mighty punch-bowl. The sheriff
now became the presiding genius. Kraemer's fortune, if he ever had one, was
swept away, his land holdings were sold for one-sixth of the value so recently
placed upon them, and its promoter became an outcast from the business world.
  
    The amazing hallucinations of the hitherto sensible people of Northampton
and adjoining counties are hard to understand; the purchase of lands, often wild
and worthless ones, at five times their valuation was probably due to the
prosperity of the times and superabundance of paper money. This enabled Kraemer
to prosecute his schemes successfully, and the tightening of the money market,
which reached its climax in the panic of 1817, was the hurricane that capsized him.
  
 
from The History of Northampton Co, PA. 

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