The Transcontinental Railroad Essay Research Paper On

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The Transcontinental Railroad Essay, Research Paper On May 10, 1869, one of the most important achievements in the history of transportation was born. In Promontory, Utah, the completion of the transcontinental railroad marked the beginning of a new era in moving the nation. Two rival railroad companies, Union Pacific and Central Pacific, with the help of the government, worked together and completed the famous route in just less than seven years. The development of the transcontinental railroad that connected the United States significantly supported the urbanization and development of the West. In 1818, Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton, then editor of the St. Louis Enquirer, wrote a series of editorials proposing a network of roads and canals to connect the Missouri and

Columbia Rivers. This was the first idea of a transcontinental transportation system. Besides the economic benefit to the coast and the states in between, promoters hoped to capture European and Asian trades, especially China and Japan. What the U.S. government was more interested in, however, was final confinement of the Indians. It figured the railroad would hasten this along. The government also wanted to reduce the cost of sending mail and supplies to the west. It wasn t until 1853, that Jefferson Davis, Secretary of War, authorized army engineers to explore the five best routes to the Pacific. No one could agree on an eastern starting point because whatever state it was would most likely gain an economic and political advantage. They also couldn t agree on a route. The

Southerners didn t want the route to go through the north, and vice-versa. All routes were viable, but the southern route on the 32nd parallel would be the cheapest. Instead Theodore H. Judah, an engineer in the Sacramento Valley, surveyed the final route. The Bidwell-Bartleson party that traveled through Utah and Nevada in 1841 used part of this route. Judah was obsessed with building a transcontinental railroad and convinced merchants Leland Stanford, Charles Crocker, Mark Hopkins, and Collis P. Huntington, forever known as The Big Four, to invest in a railroad. The Big Four incorporated the Central Pacific Railroad Company of California, on June 28, 1861. Jefferson Davis was the 10th and last child of Samuel Emory Davis, a Georgia-born planter of Welsh ancestry. When he was

three his family settled on a plantation called Rosemont at Woodville, Miss. At seven he was sent for three years to a Dominican boys’ school in Kentucky, and at 13 he entered Transylvania College, Lexington, Ky. He later spent four years at the United States Military Academy at West Point, graduating in 1828. Davis served as a lieutenant in the Wisconsin Territory and afterward in the Black Hawk War under the future president, then Colonel Zachary Taylor, whose daughter Sarah Knox he married in 1835. According to a contemporary description, Davis in his mid-20s was handsome, witty, sportful, and altogether captivating. In 1835 Davis resigned his commission and became a planter near Vicksburg, Miss., on land given him by his rich eldest brother, Joseph. Within three months his

bride died of malarial fever. Grief-stricken, Davis stayed in virtual seclusion for seven years, creating a plantation out of a wilderness and reading prodigiously in constitutional law and world literature. In 1845 Davis was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and, in the same year, married Varina Howell, a Natchez aristocrat who was 18 years his junior. In 1846 he resigned his seat in Congress to serve in the war with Mexico as colonel in command of the First Mississippi volunteers, and he became a national hero for winning the Battle of Buena Vista (1847) with tactics that won fame even in the European press. After returning, severely wounded, he entered the Senate and soon became chairman of the Military Affairs Committee. President Franklin Pierce made him secretary