rhe rexas and Pacific Railroad
SCompariso of Zad rat Policies of the
11ited States a#d Zexas
RALPH N. TRAXLER, JR.
THE DEVELOPMENT Of land grant policies by the United
States government and the state of Texas designed to aid
railroad construction was long and involved. The United
States Congress began to discuss the problem in the 1840's. From
then until the enactment of the General Forfeiture Act in 189o,
the subject of land subsidy was debated frequently. All told the
federal government granted over 31,000ooo,ooo acres.' In Texas the
first land grant was made in 1852. Others were to follow, until in
1882 land subsidization was brought to an end, with Texas having
granted over 32,000,000 acres to aid railroad construction.2 In
many respects the policies established by Texas followed those of
the federal government. In other respects definite contrasts are
noted. The Texas and Pacific land grant makes a good case study
to show comparisons and contrasts between United States and
Texas policies in giving aid to railroads.
The land aid policy of the United States government was
initiated by the grant made to the Illinois Central Railroad in
1850o. This legislation provided for a subsidy of six alternate sec-
tions per mile made directly to the various states through which
the line would be built. Indemnity limits were to extend fifteen
to twenty miles on each side of the main line in case previous
lAnnual Report of the Commissioner of the General Land Ofice for the Year x943
(Washington, 1943), 48.
2Report of the Commissioner of the General Land Office, 9rg8-z930 (Austin,
1930), 4-6; S. G. Reed, "Land Grants and Other Aids to Texas Railroads," South-
western Historical Quarterly, XLIX, 518-523.
BRichard Peters (ed.), United States Statutes at Large (Boston, 1851), IX, 466.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 61, July 1957 - April, 1958. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101164/. Accessed December 8, 2013.