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The Real Story Behind Black Friday

There is a lot of confusion surrounding the real history of Black Friday. Some believe that it was founded by Protestant missionaries who wanted to create a day of sales to bring people closer to Christ. While that is true to some extent, there are many other reasons behind the name and origin of the day.

 The real history of black Friday goes back to 1896, when the two notoriously ruthless Wall Street financiers, Jay Gould and James Fisk, figured out that if they could corner the gold market, they could effectively control the nation’s economy. So they started working together to buy up as much of the nation’s gold as they could, and then, corner the market on the precious metal -  this operation was technically legal at the time.  And, in order to sell all the gold they had acquired, the two men orchestrated a scheme to artificially inflate the price of gold by announcing a "gold speculation" on a certain date. The date they picked was Friday, September 24, 1869.

On that Friday, the trick at last unraveled, sending the stock into free-fall and bankrupting everybody, sending them from Wall Street barons to farmers. The price of gold soared, and by the close of trading that day, the price had increased 20%. This conspiracy was finally revealed and that Friday was known as Black Friday.

Although Jay Gould and James Fisk profited immensely from their scheme, they did not live to enjoy their success for very long. Both ended up dead within two years of the transaction. Their shady scheme was finally exposed in 1902 when a man named Louis Schreiber published an article in the New York World newspaper about the collusion between the two men.

After that, Black Friday took a completely different road. In 1961, retailers attempted to rebrand the day as "Big Friday", but the move failed and the "Black Friday" name survived. Since then, Black Friday became the day that many retailers begin to turn a profit for the year and is the last day of the holiday shopping season before the holidays.

In addition, in 2005, Walmart began advertising "Black Friday" deals before Thanksgiving  to get shoppers into their stores early in the week. This created a significant spike in sales and traffic at big box stores such as Walmart and Target on Black Friday. In recent years, smaller stores and online retailers have also begun promoting special deals on Black Friday in an effort to draw in more customers.

Some retailers have even attempted to trademark the term "Black Friday" to prevent others from using it but have failed thus far. The term is still widely used by consumers to describe the day after Thanksgiving when retailers begin their holiday sales.


Therefore, over the years the meaning of Black Friday has changed, and many Americans have forgotten its original purpose.

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