The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 75, July 1971 - April, 1972 Page: 40
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Orient failed, Stilwell moved to New York City where he suffered
severe injuries in an elevator accident in 1913. He then traveled to
Europe, living in France until the early 1920o's when he returned
to New York to remain in semiretirement until his death in 1928.
The failures and successes of Stilwell's two principal rail lines
and of Port Arthur are illustrative of Professor John Sawyer's model
based on "entrepreneurial error." As Sawyer says:
Yet one cannot read far in the history of the great economic undertakings
-particularly great developments in transport and the opening up of
new resources, for example-without being struck by the recurrence of
an apparently quite contrary phenomena: instances in which entre-
preneurial error or misinformation not only is massively present but
where it appears to have been a condition of successful enterprise. Cases,
that is, in which mis-calculation or sheer ignorance apparently was cru-
cial to getting an enterprise launched at all, or at least begun and
completed when it was."8
Stilwell underestimated the cost of his projects and the time needed
to complete them, his long-range goal of "developmental" invest-
ment clashed with his "opportunistic" investors, and, when stock-
holders refused to come forward with new funds, the companies
failed. In two instances the projects were assumed and completed
by national governments. The promotions ultimately proved to be
economic contributions, but had the total expenditures been known
from the beginning, it is doubtful if any of them would have been
initiated. Stilwell, however, blamed the loss of his enterprises on the
"Cannibals of Wall Street" and the "Money Trust."
Driven by an insatiable desire to emulate his grandfather, deter-
mined to restore the position of his family, and possessed with a
dynamic personality, Arthur E. Stilwell left a mark on the south-
western states. Despite the entrepreneurial errors he made, his rail-
roads and the city of Port Arthur are present as reminders of the
role of this booster and promoter in molding the economy of the
"Sawyer, "Entrepreneurial Error and Economic Growth," 199.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 75, July 1971 - April, 1972, periodical, 1972; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101201/m1/52/: accessed January 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.