Economics for Nine-Year-Olds : The Mississipi Bubble

Chardin - Boy Blowing Bubbles
     We had a fun economics lesson today!  LizzieBee and I were reading one of my favorite chapters in This Country of Ours by H.E. Marshall titled "The Mississippi Bubble". I asked her if she knew what the Mississippi Bubble was and she replied, "No.  But when we're done, can we please look up a picture of it on your iPad, Mom?"
     "Ummm-sure.  That is, when we're through reading and narrating the chapter," I said, sporting a bewildered smile.  I smiled  because I knew she had no idea about the subject matter and that she was probably  envisioning a long, giant soap bubble in the shape of the Mississippi.  My bewilderment was because I had no idea what we would look up on the Internet.
     We read the chapter over a few days, talking and remarking about inflation, greed and gullibility.  In short, the Mississippi Bubble was a speculative bubble devised by Scotsman John Law for the economically disabled France.  Law promised amazing wealth for those who would buy shares in his company which would be trading all the wondrous, new-found treasures from across the ocean in the Louisiana wilderness.  Problem was, Louisiana didn't have any treasures.  No matter, people were desperate to get rich quick so the buying of shares went crazy.  So, more paper bank notes were printed.  Inflation skyrocketed and the rest, as they say , is history.
     Marit added her two-cents from reading Whatever Happened to Penny Candy and LeMoyne wanted to know if the run on the bank in It's a Wonderful Life had some similarities. I was then reminded that we were going to look it up on the Internet.  Thankfully, I found this excellent, informative and fun cartoon short on the Mississippi Bubble.

     There is also a living Landmark book on the subject called The Mississippi Bubble by Thomas Costain.

     I was curious about other examples of these bubbles.  Most fascinating is the speculative bubble "tulipmania" that hit 17th century Holland. If no one has written a piece of historical fiction on that - someone should!  There was also a South Sea bubble in 1720 and of course, our very own crash of 1929 which ushered in the Great Depression.
     That was our little economics lesson, tucked into our history lesson.  While some of the details may be a little abstract for the younger children, you can see it "tickling their brains" as they ask further questions and begin to make connections.  Before I homeschooled my children, I will admit that I was like LizzieBee and had no idea what the Mississippi Bubble was.  The only reason I was a step ahead of her was that I had been over it twice before with the boys.  Aren't bubbles fascinating?

GRATEFULNESSE GIVEAWAY! I'm so thankful for those who read and interact with my blog that I want to send a special little something out to two of you. The 100th person to "like" Sage Parnassus on Facebook will receive a humble gift from me. It is presently at 97. Also, the 100th person to "follow" my blog will get a snail mail treat. I now have 78 followers. What will it be? A book, of course!


  1. You find the most interesting connections and I've never heard of the Mississipi Bubble.
    I learned here too. Great rec. with the Landmark book. I never knew they had that one!

  2. My fascination with bubbles is at an all time low, I will admit. We just sold our house today and your post caused me to reflect on the recent housing bubble and it's affect on my family! I'll tell my husband about the Mississippi bubble and ask if he finds any comfort in knowing that many others have suffered a popped bubble before us!

  3. Very interesting. Wish it didn't remind me so much of our own economy right now, though. :( Cute and informative cartoon.

  4. Very interesting. I truly appreciate the quality of the cartoon. I do think cartoons are great ways to present these abstract things to children, they compliment very well the readings about it.
    I also have no clue about this, I´m truly looking forward to this.
    I´m glad you reminded me of a great connection my daughter made and I forgot. I will write about it here to remember about it.
    We read a book called A Consumer Guide for Children who was a bit outdated but with current content, and not just for children!
    The other day, passing by a nursery that closed, my daughter asked why they closed, if we had ever bought plants from them, if they asked for too much money for the plants... finally she said, maybe they did not advertised themselves properly... ha ha ha, she cracked me up. And the little one prior to that, from the example they show in the book with a lemonade stand, was asking me if it was summer already to sell lemonade... well, we have only one season here with two variants, torrid summer, and bearable summer, so I guess we can start advertising and preparing.

  5. I already liked you on fb, and about following, I read you in google reader, but now I´m honestly going to wait for the followers to get to 99, and then hit the button... ha ha ha. In your reader, if you click on show details (at least from google), it will tell you that you have 118 subscribers already!

  6. Sarah and Amber,
    Yes, the current housing situation is yet another example. The kids picked up on that, too, as I have a close relative who has been hit hard by it. Sarah - I hope things work out okay for you and your family!

    Love the connection made by your dd! And you are correct about the reader - I failed to account for that. So, send me your snail mail, girlfriend - I have something to send you for pointing that out!

    Ring true,

  7. I think the Alexander Dumas novel the Black Tulip is about the tulipomainia - I may have spelled his name wrong, but I mean the Three Musketeer's guy.

  8. Nancy,
    Hana in the Time of Tulips by Deborah Noyes and illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline (one of my favorite illustrators) is a picture book about Tulipmania in 17th century Holland.

  9. @ Christine - Thank you! I just got it for free for my Kindle app. I'll start it today!

    @eatwiss - Wonderful! I ordered it from Amazon and can't wait to read it to my children.

    Great recommendations - you guys are the best!


  10. I guess it would be hard to trade in po'boy sandwiches and muffalettas. A striking recent example of people throwing caution to the wind would be the dot-com bubble that burst in 2000.

    Great book recommendations.

  11. Yes, yes, you are quite brilliant!

  12. Your post reminded me of tulip mania. The subject of economics is one that was lacking in my schooling. Correcting such deficiencies is yet another benefit of home education.

  13. Fascinating!! So,... this book "This Country of Ours" - I looked at it on Amazon... is this REAL history told as a story?? If so, I'm ALL excited about that! =)

  14. I actually have a book called Tulipomania in my "to read" stack. It is certainly readable for high schoolers as well or aloud. I am excited to read it. I love Whatever Happened to Penny Candy for a good study in economics as well.

  15. Lizzie -
    Whatever Happened to Penny Candy is a great introduction to economics! Who is the author of your book, Tulipomania?

  16. Thanks for this. More evidence to prove the adage about those who don't understand history are doomed to repeat it. We'll be talking about the Mississippi Bubble at our house today.

  17. Love how you and your children chase the trail of learning!