The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 78, July 1974 - April, 1975 Page: 118
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
debates on the bill began in January, 1854, proponents of a southern Pacific
railroad surmised that the bill had put their program in jeopardy. To solicit
supporters, southerners pointed to several developments indicating that their
route' should be followed by a Pacific railroad. A favorite argument was
Senator Stephen A. Douglas's 1850 land-grant act, which had helped estab-
lish the precedent for federal land grants to states or territories for the
specific purpose of aiding railroad construction.4 According to the way most
politicians and railroad promoters interpreted the act, southerners were
eligible to receive land in Arkansas, California, and New Mexico. There was
no public land in Texas, but the state legislature had already provided for
generous land grants to several companies promising to construct a railroad
from East Texas toward the Pacific.5 Indeed, the southern plan seemed to
be further materializing in 1853, when Arkansas was given land to build
a road from the northeastern corner of the state to the vicinity of Fulton,
and the Texas legislature liberalized its provisions for a railroad along the
thirty-second parallel by chartering the Mississippi and Pacific Railroad
Company. Advocates of the central and northern Pacific railroad routes
were ineligible for such land grants at this juncture, since large sections of
their lines-from St. Louis to San Francisco and from Milwaukee or Chi-
cago to Puget Sound-lay along areas where no organized territorial or
state governments existed. But the Kansas-Nebraska bill was expected to
remove this encumbrance. Still, southerners were confident that the official
government surveys launched in i853 would favor their route. Since Secre-
tary of War Jefferson Davis was directing them, it was more than just a
3This route, as defined at the Memphis railroad convention of 1849, ran from "south
of the Ohio," preferably Memphis, through Arkansas and Texas to El Paso, and termi-
nated in San Diego. See Minutes and Proceedings of the Memphis Convention, Assem-
bled October 23, 1849 (Memphis, 185o), 21-23, 29-30. References to this work are
hereafter cited as Proceedings of the Memphis Convention, 1849.
4Congressional Globe, 31st Cong., 1st Sess. (Serial X92), 844-854, 867-874, 900-904;
ibid., 31st Cong., Ist Sess. (Serial X93), 1838; Jere W. Roberson, "The South and the
Pacific Railroad, 1845-1855," The Western Historical Quarterly, V (April, 1974), 166-
169; Frank Heywood Hodder, "The Railroad Background of the Kansas-Nebraska Act,"
The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, XII (June, 1925), Io. Under this act, the
government had granted land to Mississippi, Alabama, and Illinois to aid in constructing
a railroad from Mobile to Chicago.
5Muir, "Thirty-Second Parallel," 23-25; Russell, Improvement of Communication with
the Pacific Coast, 124-125; Earl F. Woodward, "Internal Improvements in Texas in the
Early I850's," Southwestern Historical Quarterly, LXXVI (October, 8972), 179-I81.
6United States Congress, Senate Journal, 32nd Cong., 2nd Sess. (Serial 657), I70,
175, 178, 186; Congressional Globe, 32nd Cong., Ist Sess. (Serial X99), 2463-2464;
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 78, July 1974 - April, 1975, periodical, 1974/1975; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117149/m1/152/: accessed June 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.