Texas and the Southern Pacific Railroad, 1848-1860
his first message to the legislature he declared himself favorable
to the corporate system, but censured bitterly the speculators who
had promoted companies and set up claims to routes and land
without building the roads. He urged that these companies
should be held to the strict letter of the law and should be denied
relief." Very few companies attempted to obtain charters under
this series of unfavorable conditions.
Thus it is seen that the period before the Civil War was a time
of "loud profession and little deed" in Texas railroad history.
What is the explanation? The disappointing situation is to be
explained by the fact that Texas was very sparsely peopled. The
population of 212,592 in 1850 showed an average of less than one
person to the square mile, as has been stated. The largest town
in the state, Galveston, had only 4,177 people; San Antonio
ranked next with 3,488, while all others fell below 2,500 each.
Only five towns had more than 1,000 people each. There was a
rapid increase during the next decade, amounting to 184%o, but
the value of the growth was minimized by the fact that much of
it was negro population, the slaves having increased more rapidly
than the whites. In 1860 the total population was 604,215, or
2.3 persons to the square mile. But San Antonio, the largest
city, had but 8,235, and only four other towns had 2,500 or more
people. Almost one-half of the 243 counties of today were with-
out a single inhabitant in 1860.80 Obviously, the business of the
state could not be of sufficient magnitude to make even a South-
ern Pacific railroad a paying investment.
"House Journal, Seventh Legislature, Appendix, 3-14.
"United States Census, 1860, III, 598.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 35, July 1931 - April, 1932. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101092/. Accessed May 6, 2016.