The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 56, July 1952 - April, 1953 Page: 490
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Iowa City in 1851, New Orleans in 1852, and Little Rock in
1853. As early as 1842 a railroad convention at Houston recom-
mended a railroad system for Texas. Additional Texas conven-
tions met at Austin in 1851 and at Galveston in 1852.2
During the same period proposals for the construction of a
transcontinental railroad were being made in the United States
Congress. Asa Whitney, said to be one of the first to advocate
a railroad to the Pacific, presented his idea to Congress as early
as January 28, 1845. In 1852 the House Committee on Roads
and Canals recommended a bill based on Whitney's plan. The
bill proposed to sell to Whitney a stretch of land sixty miles
wide extending from Lake Michigan, or the Mississippi River, to
the Pacific, for which he would pay ten cents an acre upon the
completion of the road. Whitney was to get his funds from the
sale and settlement of the lands as he progressed. Freight and
passenger rates were to be levied on a cost basis, and the mails
would be carried free. The friends of the bill, however, were un-
able to effect passage.
This sectional feeling concerning a transcontinental railroad,
so evident in the several conventions, was also apparent in the
reaction to the Whitney proposal. Senator Thomas Jefferson
Rusk of Texas suggested a second route to extend from a point
on the Mississippi near Memphis via El Paso del Norte to San
Diego or to San Francisco. Representative John D. Freeman of
Mississippi advocated an Atlantic and Pacific railroad to extend
from Vicksburg to Shreveport through El Paso del Norte to San
Nothing came of these plans. In 1853, however, the United
States Senate amended the army appropriation bill to authorize
the secretary of war to make surveys for the purpose of de-
termining the most practicable and most economical route for a
railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean; $150,000
was appropriated for that purpose. This amendment was accepted
by the House of Representatives. In February, 1855, Jefferson
Davis, secretary of war, submitted to Congress his recommenda-
2S. S. McKay, "Texas and the Southern Pacific Railroad," Southwestern His-
torical Quarterly, XXXV, 7-9.
sLewis H. Haney, A Congressional History of Railways in the United States
(2 vols.; Madison, Wisconsin, 1910), II, 49-50.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 56, July 1952 - April, 1953, periodical, 1953; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101145/m1/588/: accessed October 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.