Empire express : building the first transcontinental railroad



Transcription of Annotations

Front endpapers contain references to Asa Whitney's trip to China in 1842 and his subsequent proposal for building a railroad, several other railroad resolutions, none of which were acted upon, then, in 1853, Congress' decision to give authority for building a railroad to Jefferson Davis, the Secretary of War. Other notes provide statistical information on the Mexican War in 1847 and include a list of influential people - politicians, businessmen, writers, and native people - who played a role in bringing about the railroad. More detailed information is provided for Theodore Dehone Judah, "who made the dream a reality", Rep. Erastus Corning of New York who was also the President of the New York Central Railroad and was in favor of a 4' 8 1/2" gauge; Leland Stanford, Governor of California and President of the Central Pacific Railroad; Judge Crocker, who gave free railroad passes to members of Congress; and Rep. Ignatius Donnelly who was given money by Huntington through an intermediary, as well as 12,000 laborers who made the railroad possible. There are also references to the passing of the Central Pacific Bill and the Pacific Railroad Act in the middle of the Civil War in 1862, and Lincoln's impending decision on the width of the gauge and the location of the Eastern terminus. Back endpapers contain references to Crédit Mobilier of America - originally the Pennsylvania Fiscal Agency - which allowed individuals to obtain credit based on personal property and real estate, General Dodge and his friend Tecumseh Sherman, Thomas C. Durant, Leland Stanford, Mark Hopkins, and Collis P. Huntington. Also mentioned are secret hearings in front of the Poland Committee in 1873, which ended with two congressmen - Oakes Ames and James Brooks - being censured, but not expelled; the Wilson Committee, and the death dates and ages of Huntington, Stanford, and Hopkins. Other notes refer to the completion of the railroad - the last spike on May 8, 1869; the Piedmont-Aspen summit, where 300 workers surrounded trains and demanded back pay, to Chinese laborers who asked for a pay increase and a shorter work day and their bosses who then decided to "import black freedmen", to a violent incident involving Brigadier General Patrick Edward Connor and a group of Arapaho Indians which left 63 of them scalped and murdered, and to the acrimony between the union and the railroad which - according to the author - was caused by too much corporate influence both in federal and state governments. -- Annotations by Brian Lamb in the margins and underlining of pertinent phrases throughout the book. -- Example: p. 711: "Perhaps, as was the case with so many other moguls of the Gilded Age - those once-ragtag peddlers and shopkeepers and apprentices with names like Vanderbilt, Morgan, Carnegie, Frick, and Rockefeller, who came to be the heedless royalty of the developing republic, crushing enemies, exploiting the powerless, building empires - the solid new walls of culture at San Marino began to polish off the taint from the millions hauled in by the Empire Express, just as would the university in Palo Alto and the art gallery in Sacramento"..."The libraries, lecture halls, and galleries would remain, perhaps even lowering the temperature being applied to the souls of the departed empire-builders." -- White sheet of paper laid in listing 16 names for which stills were included in the broadcast.


Bain, David Haward, “Empire express : building the first transcontinental railroad,” One Book. One Author. One Hour., accessed March 21, 2023, http://booknotes.gmu.edu/items/show/468.



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Empire express : building the first transcontinental railroad


Bain, David Haward


Program air date: March 5, 2000


Chronicles the events that took place in the thirty years it took to complete the first transcontinental railroad, profiling the key players in its development, the major setbacks the workers faced, and the public objections to the railroad's completion.


"Railroads--United States--History."


Brian Lamb Booknotes Collection
Gift of Brian Lamb, 2011.


George Mason University. Libraries. Special Collections & Archives


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