The Impact Of The Transcontinental Railroad

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The Transcontinental railroad was the most prolific tool for United States western expansion and acted as jet fuel to the fire of the United States economy. The railroad revolutionized transportation of goods and the freedom that Americans now had to travel from coast-to-coast. Western expansionism of the United States fulfilled itself with the completion of the Transcontinental railroad in 1869. The railroad had been a thought since the early 1800s, but that tree bore no fruit until President Abraham Lincoln signed the Railway Act of 1862. This piece of legislation was a landmark for the United States, as it gave the financial responsibility of the railroad to the federal government. The Railway Act of 1862 also gave two companies the task of constructing and operating the Transcontinental railroad, these companies being the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific, respectively. In an article written for The Journal of Economic History, author Xavier Duran states, ‘During the second half of the 1840s and most of the 1850s, trade with the Pacific area boomed. China opened to trade and California experienced a gold rush and was annexed by the United States. Entrepreneurs and governments in different parts of the world competed to facilitate transportation to the Pacific Ocean.’ (Duran, 2013) The discovery of gold and the ensuing gold rush of 1849 (still famous today as the San Francisco NFL team the ‘49ers) created vast wealth and entrepreneurial opportunities. President
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