BUILDING THE FIRST TRANSCONTINENTAL RAIL Essay Research

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BUILDING THE FIRST TRANSCONTINENTAL RAIL Essay, Research Paper BUILDING THE FIRST TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILROAD From the time when locomotives first set their immense wheels onto the frigid iron of parallel rails, Americans longed for a means of transportation which would connect the separate regions of California and the Eastern states. This need for connection, fueled by manifest destiny led to the building of the first transcontinental railroad. Expansion of the railroads would have been postponed indefinitely without the unfair support the government provided to the robber barons. This unfair support came in the form of excess land grants, exceptionally low interest rates on loans, and loopholes in the wording of the Pacific Railroad Act. These were due in part to bribery and

the political power exercised by members of the Big Four and Union Pacific authorities. Although appropriate for this paper, the subject of Chinese workers will not be covered. The government certainly turned their cheek on this matter and a whole paper alone could be devoted to this subject. In order to understand the numerous complexities of the issue at hand, one must first comprehend the position of the aptly named ?Big Four? which was comprised of Collis Huntington, Mark Hopkins, Leland Stanford and Charles Crocker. These four were persuaded by Theodore Judah to put not just their heart and soul, but also their money into the construction of the railroad. Collis Huntington, the most despised member of the Big Four, also lived the longest. 2 Huntington was well known for his

uncommon combination of thrift, patience, and determination. When he left for California, he had twelve hundred dollars in his pocket. Upon landing, Huntington possessed nearly five thousand dollars, a true show of his business skills. Together with Huntington, Mark Hopkins owned a hardware store in Sacramento. This business was much more lucrative that actually mining for gold in the hills. This store was one of the most profitable and most well known in Sacramento. Hopkins finalized every decision made by the Central Pacific. Leland Stanford was a people person. This skill originally helped him succeed in politics, but would eventually also help out in the railroad business. Stanford originally left for California after a disastrous fire in his law office. Stanford was

frequently back east though. He had a tight-knit relationship with Abraham Lincoln. Historians point out this relationship most likely affected national policies regarding the West Coast, especially the railroad If anyone could be head of the work force, one would want it to be Charles Crocker. Similar to Stanford, he excelled in people skills. Crocker was revered by all who worked under him. He once delivered the worker?s weekly pay personally, holding a bag of gold high in the air. Bringing these four men together was no simple task. Theodore Judah accomplished 3 this task with an intuitive sense of how the group would relate with one another. It was his dream to connect the established east with the still forming west. Everyone in Sacramento thought old Ted Judah was crazy. It

was he who personally mapped out the Sierras with just a horse and some paper. Judah found a route that made it possible to cross this area. He was excited to be included in the Big Five, but it wasn?t to be. Judah wanted to build the road with honesty. As it turned out, the men he selected no longer fit this category. The new Big Four bought out Judah for $100,000. Judah still wanted a railroad for himself. He took the money with him to New York, but on the way back, he died of Yellow Fever. With that, the Big Four could start their unconstitutional building of the transcontinental railroad. When combined, the Big Four?s net worth did not total more than 1.5 million dollars. According to the Pacific Railroad Act, a full 40 miles of track needed to be in place before any