Learning Lincoln On-line



Goes with the Lincoln's War Politics #4


Abraham Lincoln affected the construction of the transcontinental railroad by pushing for and overseeing its construction. Prior to the Civil War, Southern delegates opposed the railroad's construction because they felt it catered too strongly to free states and would result in more free territories on the continent.








The right time, the right man: Abraham Lincoln and the Transcontinental Railroad       

       In Lincoln's mind, the railroad was part of the Civil War effort

       The new line would support communities and military outposts on the frontier. It would give settlers safe and dependable passage west. And most importantly, it would tie new states California and Oregon to the rest of the country.

       These states were rich with natural resources and trade potential, and their place on the flag was far from secure. Little more than a decade had passed since Oregon was claimed by Great Britain and California was part of Mexico. Even after becoming a state, California had its own secessionist movement.

       A transcontinental railroad, Lincoln hoped, would bring the entire nation closer together would make Americans across the continent feel like one people.


What do the abbreviations stand for?

UT=Utah Territory WPRC=Western Pacific Railroad Company CPRC OF CALIF.=Central Pacific Railroad Company

         The First Transcontinental Railroad (known originally as the "Pacific Railroad" and later as the "Overland Route") was a 1,907-mile contiguous railroad line constructed between 1863 and 1869 across the western United States to connect the Pacific coast at San Francisco Bay with the existing Eastern U.S. rail network at Council Bluffs, Iowa, on the Missouri River. The rail line was built by three private companies: the original Western Pacific Railroad Company between Oakland and Sacramento, California (132 mi), the Central Pacific Railroad Company of California eastward from Sacramento to Promontory Summit, Utah Territory (U.T.) (690 mi), and the Union Pacific Railroad Company westward to Promontory Summit from the road's statutory Eastern terminus at Council Bluffs on the eastern shore of the Missouri River opposite Omaha, Nebraska (1,085 mi)


Building the Railroad

The "Pacific Railroad Acts"

In 1846, the Polk Administration created a United States Treasury System that moved public funds from private banks to Treasury branches in an effort to stabilize the economy. However, there remained no national currency, a problem of increasing urgency to a wartime government strapped for cash.

One of the first attempts of the nation to issue a national currency came in the early days of the Civil War when Congress approved the Legal Tender Act of 1862, allowing the issue of $150 million in national notes known as greenbacks and mandating that paper money be issued and accepted in lieu of gold and silver coins. The bills were backed only by the national government's promise to redeem them and their value was dependent on public confidence in the government as well as the ability of the government to give out specie in exchange for the bills in the future. Many thought this promise backing the bills was about as good as the green ink printed on one side, hence the name "greenbacks."

In 1863, the Second Legal Tender Act, enacted July 11, 1862, a Joint Resolution of Congress, and the Third Legal Tender Act, enacted March 3, 1863, expanded the limit to $450 million. The largest amount of greenbacks outstanding at any one time was calculated as $447,300,203.10. The National Banking Act (ch. 58, 12 Stat. 665; February 25, 1863), originally known as the National Currency Act, and was passed in the Senate by a narrow 2321 vote. The main goal of this act was to create a single national currency and to eradicate the problem of notes from multiple banks circulating all at once. The Act established national banks that could issue notes which were backed by the United States Treasury and printed by the government itself. The quantity of notes that a bank was allowed to issue was proportional to the bank's level of capital deposited with the Comptroller of the Currency at the Treasury. To further control the currency, the Act taxed notes issued by state and local banks, essentially pushing non-federally issued paper out of circulation.

First National Bank, Philadelphia

The National Banking Act of 1863 was superseded by the National Banking Act of 1864 (ch. 106, 13 Stat. 99; June 3, 1864) just one year later. The new act also established federally issued bank charters, which took banking out of the hands of state governments. Before the act, charters were granted by state legislatures who were under an immense amount of political pressure and could be influenced by bribes. This problem was resolved to some degree by free banking laws in some states but it was not until this act was passed that free banking was established on a uniform, national level and charter issuance was taken out of the hands of discriminating and corrupt state legislatures.

The first bank to receive a national charter was the First National Bank of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Charter #1). The first new national bank to open was The First National Bank of Davenport, Iowa (Charter #15) Additionally, the new Act converted more than 1,500 state banks to national banks





A sod home used by pioneers who moved west for the Homestead Program. 






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