Great Businessmen of the Civil War. J. Edgar Thomson, President -- Pennsylvania Railroad Thomas Scott-Vice President

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J. Edgar Thomson, President of the Pennsylvania Railroad, which by the end of the war was the dominant railroad company in America.​


Railroads were essential for the Union’s transportation of troops and supplies, especially the Pennsylvania Railroad, which ran the vital line through the state that connected Philadelphia with the Midwest. During the war, it doubled its profits and became the largest corporation in the world. As president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, Tom Scott wielded great influence over government war efforts and, in 1861, was appointed the assistant secretary of war by President Lincoln. The Pennsylvania legislature was so subservient to the railroad that the expressionscot freearose because it remained in session each year until Scott dismissed it.

Link The War saved some great businessmen from disaster from overbuilding.

Still another reason why the railroads proved adequate to the situation was the fact that they had been overdeveloped in the previous decade and at the opening of the war were not operating to full capacity. This is clearly brought out by the fact that, although their business increased enormously during the war, the railroads were able to handle it without a proportional increase in rolling stock. For example, the earnings of the Pennsylvania railroad jumped from five million dollars. in 1860 to seventeen millions in 1865; while the rolling stock, which had included 205 engines, 154 passenger cars, and 2,047 freight cars in 1860,17 had only been increased to 368 engines, 150 passenger cars, and 4,842 freight cars.18 Similarly, the New York Central doubled its earnings with an increase of only forty-two engines.19 The aggregate rolling stock of all the railroads in the state of Pennsylvania in 1860 consisted of 623 engines, 410 passenger, cars, 6,028 freight cars.20 In 1865, it consisted of 1,519 engines, 700 passenger cars, and 15,288 freight cars.12 The aggregate receipts had advanced from twenty-one to sixty-five million dollars.22 In each of these instances, with triple the business, it was only necessary approximately to double the number of engines and freight cars, clearly showing that the roads were not being used to capacity at the beginning of the war.​
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