In 1882 Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act suspending any further

In 1882 congress passed the chinese exclusion act

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In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, suspending any further Chineseimmigration for ten years.On May 10, 1869, Leland Stanford, the for-mer governor of California and president of theCentral Pacific Railroad, traveled to PromontoryPoint in Utah Territory to hammer a ceremonialgolden spike, marking the finish of the firsttranscontinental line. Other railroads went up withless fanfare. The Southern Pacific, chartered by thestate of California, stretched from San Francisco toLos Angeles, and on through Arizona and NewMexico to connections with New Orleans. TheAtchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe reached the Pacificin 1887 by way of a southerly route across the RockyMountains. The Great Northern, one of the fewlines financed by private capital, extended west fromSt. Paul, Minnesota, to Washington’s Puget Sound.Railroad corporations became America’sfirst big businesses. Railroads required huge out-lays of investment capital, and their growthincreased the economic power of banks andinvestment houses centered in Wall Street.Bankers often gained seats on the boards ofChinese immigrants, like thesesection gangworkers, provided labor and skills critical to thesuccessful completion of the first transconti-nental railroad. This photo was taken in Promontory, Utah Territory, in 1869.The Denver Public Library, Western History Collection.
594CHAPTER 17RECONSTRUCTION, 1863–1877directors of these railroad companies, and their access to capital sometimes gavethem the real control of railways. By the early 1870s the Pennsylvania Railroadstood as the nation’s largest single company, with more than 20,000 employees. Anew breed of aggressive entrepreneur sought to ease cutthroat competition byabsorbing smaller companies and forming “pools” that set rates and divided the mar-ket. A small group of railroad executives, including Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jay Gould,Collis P. Huntington, and James J. Hill, amassed unheard-of fortunes. WhenVanderbilt died in 1877, he left his son $100 million. By comparison, a decentannual wage for working a six-day week was around $350.Railroad promoters, lawyers, and lobbyists became ubiquitous figures inWashington and state capitals, wielding enormous influence among lawmakers. “Thegalleries and lobbies of every legislature,” one Republican leader noted, “are throngedwith men seeking . . . an advantage.” Railroads benefited enormously from governmentsubsidies. Between 1862 and 1872, Congress awarded more than 100 million acres ofpublic lands to railroad companies and provided them more than $64 million in loansand tax incentives.Some of the nation’s most prominent politicians routinely accepted railroadlargesse. Republican senator William M. Stewart of Nevada, a member of the Committeeon Pacific Railroads, received a gift of 50,000 acres of land from the Central Pacific forhis services. The worst scandal of the Grant administration grew out of corruption involv-ing railroad promotion. As a way of diverting funds for the building of the Union Pacific

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