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many of the land grant roads and these grounds were urged for a renewal.59 The same extension of the grants to ten and twenty miles was made as in the other acts, on the same plea of the taking up of the lands. The interest taken in the bills may be seen in a remark of Senator Morrill, who said that he did "not know that anybody takes any interest in them except as a matter of locality.”
50 "The financial trouble of 1857, and then the war coming on, prevented the construction of many roads." Speech of Hendricks in House, May 25, 1866. Globe, 1st sess. 39th Cong., 2820.
60 Globe, 1st sess. 38th Cong., 1034. 61 Ibid., 1744.
THE PACIFIC RAILROADS.
Projects for a railway from the valley of the Mississippi to the Pacific coast followed not long after the exploration of the vast tract of land purchased from France in 1803. The western and northern limits of that purchase were long in dispute, but this seems to have furnished a stronger motive for hastening its settlement.
The first public advocate of such a road seems to have been one Hartwell Carter, who, in 1832, presented his plan in the New York Courier and Inquirer. He proposed to build a road from Lake Michigan to the mouth of the Columbia and to San Francisco, on condition that he should receive a strip of land for the whole distance and the privilege of buying 8,000,000 acres of public lands at $1.25 an acre, to be paid for in the stock of the company. During the early forties, John Plumbe presented a plan to Congress for the building of a transcontinental road. This included a grant of alternate sections of land on each side of the road, a plan similar to the other grants which were being urged at this time?
The most prominent of all the advocates of a Pacific railroad was Asa Whitney. His first plan, as set forth in a memorial to Congress in 1845, involved a grant to him of a strip of land 60 miles wide, extending from Lake Michigan to the Pacific. On this he would build a railroad, selling the land as needed, and retaining for his own use that which might remain after the completion of the railroad. The next year he repeated his requests
1 Bancroft, California, VII, 498-9. ? Ibid., 500. 8 Reports of Committees, 1st sess. 31st Cong., No. 140, p. 23.
accompanied by an account of his exploration of the proposed route during the previous summer. In 1848 he presented a modified plan by which he was to be allowed the lands along the line at 16 cents an acre, which he was to receive in alternate five mile sections as each ten miles of the road were finished. In 1850 Whitney secured a favorable report from the House Committee on Roads and Canals. This advocated his plan as the most practicable one that had been advanced, gave preference to the northern route, and based the constitutionality of the land grant on the ground that it was not an appropriation of the public lands or their proceeds, but an acceptance of an offer to buy lands otherwise unsalable. The bill accompanying the report authorized Whitney to construct a road from Lake Michigan to the Pacific. The lands for thirty miles on each side of the road were to be sold to Whitney for ten cents an acre. Deficiencies in lands along the road were to be made up from such lands as he might select.?
The opposition to Whitney's plan came largely from the advocates of a "National” road, that is, one built by the general government. In 1849 Benton advocated a bill setting aside seventyfive per cent. of the money received from the public lands in California and Oregon, and fifty per cent. in the other states and territories, for the construction of a road from St. Louis to San Francisco, and a branch to the Columbia. A strip of land one mile in width was to be set aside for the road. The advocates of a "National” road opposed Whitney's plan on the grounds that it was too great for private management, that individuals could not treat with the Indian tribes, and that the government should not assist in a “stockjobbing” enterprise. On the other hand Whitney also cited the magnitude of the work as an objection to gov
• Ibid., p. 27. * Ibid., p. 36. * Ibid., pp. 1-19. ? Ibid., p. 43. 8 Globe, 2d sess. 30th Cong., 473-4. . See speech of Benton, Ibid., 472.
ernment control and claimed that there was danger of party domination and clash of sectional interests in the National” plan.10
Neither Whitney's nor the “National” plan received much attention from Congress. The matter of a Pacific road was not so simple in 1850 as it had been in 1815. When Whitney first brought forward his plan, our Pacific coast did not extend south of latitude 42°. Only Puget Sound and the mouth of the Columbia, both necessitating a northern route, were available as western termini of a Pacific railroad. But in 1848 California was added to our territory, San Francisco and Monterey entered the field as candidates for the terminus of the road, and a southern route became a possibility. The natural economic rivalry between the two sections was increased by the question of slavery and the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. It is small wonder, to one familiar with the history of the country from 1850 to 1860, that a project which meant so much for or against the prosperity of one section or another failed to receive the assent of Congress.
From 1850 on, the question of a Pacific railroad was one of route, not of constitutionality. The northern route, from the Great Lakes to the Columbia, received also the support of the East. The central route, from Memphis or St. Louis via the South Pass to San Francisco, had many supporters among the central and southern states. The southern route ran from Texas via the valley of the Gila.11
In 1853 the projects came most prominently before Congress. Rusk, of Texas, had introduced a bill for a road on the southern route with branches northeast and northwest. Alternate sections for forty miles on each side of the road were granted to aid in its construction. As the road was only within the territories, grants were made to Iowa, Missouri, Louisiana, Arkansas, and California for extensions through those states.12 Gwin, of California, in
10 Bancroft, California, VII, 507-8; citing Whitney, A Project for a Railroad to the Pacific.
11 See Davis, Union Pacific Railway, Chicago, 1894, 38-42. 13 Globe, 2d sess. 32d Cong., 280.
troduced a bill for a line from San Francisco to Memphis, via Fulton, with branches to Dubuque, St. Louis, Matagorda, New Orleans, and Fort Nisqually. The odd numbered sections for forty miles on each side of the road in the territories and California, and for twenty miles in the other states, were to be granted.13
The latter bill was an attempt to satisfy and harmonize all the conflicting and sectional interests. Rusk's bill had been referred to a select committee which reported a bill which attempted to solve the matter by leaving the selection of the route to the president, and providing for a grant of alternate sections for six miles on each side of the road in the states, and for twelve miles in the territories, together with $20,000,000 in bonds.14 The bill reported by the committee was discussed at some length but no action was taken. The land grant feature of the bill attracted little attention, being overshadowed by the question of location and by the question of the power of Congress to create a corporation. In 1855 a bill providing for roads on all three routes and making a grant of lands of alternate sections for twelve miles on each side of the lines passed the Senate by a vote of 24 to 21.15 There was little discussion of the land grant. Indeed, the power to grant lands in aid of the Pacific roads seems to have been assumed even by the opponents of grants to the states. Niles, the persistent enemy of the state grants, was an advocate of Whitney's plan.18 In the House a bill providing for a Pacific railroad was passed but the vote was immediately reconsidered. Nothing was done with the Senate bill.17
Sectional differences increased as the war drew near, yet there
13 Ibid., 281.
16 June 27, 1818, he introduced a bill granting lands to Whitney for a railroad to the Pacific (Globe, 1st sess. 30th Cong., 875). July 29 he endeavored to secure the consideration of his bill (Ibid., 1011), and on August 8 he moved it as an amendment to a land-grant bill (Ibid., 1031). On January 29, 1849, he again moved to take up his bull (Globe, 2d sess. 30th Cong., 381). Davis, p. 32, says that the article in Hunt's Herchants' Magazine for July, 1849, on Whitney's plan wag by Niles. I have found nothing to confirm this statement. 17 Davis, Union Pacific Railway, C4-6.5.