Thomas A. Scott
|Died||May 21, 1881 57) (aged|
|Occupation||Railroad executive, politician|
|Known for||4th president of the Pennsylvania Railroad |
United States Assistant Secretary of War
Compromise of 1877
Thomas Alexander Scott (December 28, 1823 – May 21, 1881) was an American businessman, railroad executive, and industrialist. In 1861, President Abraham Lincoln appointed him to serve as U.S. Assistant Secretary of War, and during the American Civil War railroads under his leadership played a major role in the war effort. He became the fourth president of the Pennsylvania Railroad (1874–1880), which became the largest publicly traded corporation in the world and received much criticism for his conduct in the Great Railroad Strike of 1877 and as a "robber baron." Scott helped negotiate the Republican Party's Compromise of 1877 with the Democratic Party; it settled the disputed presidential election of 1876 in favor of Rutherford B. Hayes in exchange for the federal government pulling out its military forces from the South and ending the Reconstruction era. In his final years, Scott made large donations to the University of Pennsylvania.
Scott was born on December 28, 1823 in Peters Township near Fort Loudoun, in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. He was the 7th of eleven children.
Scott joined the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1850 as a station agent, and by 1858 was general superintendent. Scott had been recommended for promotion by Herman Haupt and later took a special interest in mentoring aspiring railroad employees, such as Andrew Carnegie (who joined the Pittsburgh telegraph office at age 16 and became Scott's private secretary and telegrapher).
The 1846 state charter to the Pennsylvania Railroad diffused power within the company, by giving executive authority to a committee responsible to stockholders, and not to individuals. By the 1870s, however, officers directed by J. Edgar Thomson (the Pennsylvania Railroad's President from 1852 until his death in 1874) and Scott had centralized power.
Historians have explained the successful partnership of Thomas Scott and J. Edgar Thomson by the melding of their opposing personality traits: Thomson was the engineer, cool, deliberate, and introverted; Scott was the financier, daring, versatile, and a publicity-seeker.In addition, they had common experiences and values, agreement on the importance of financial success, the financial stability of the Pennsylvania Railroad throughout their partnership, and J. Edgar Thomson's paternalism.
By 1860, when Scott became the first Vice President of the Pennsylvania Railroad, it had expanded from a company of railway lines within Pennsylvania through the 1840s and 1850s, to a transportation empire (which it would continue to expand under his guidance from the 1860s onward).
At the outburst of the American Civil War, Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin called on Scott for his extensive knowledge of the rail and transportation systems of the state.In May 1861, Scott received a commission as Colonel of Volunteers and placed in command of railroad and telegraph lines used by the Union armies. His friend, Secretary of War Simon Cameron in August 1861 appointed him Assistant Secretary of War, and gave him responsibility for building a railroad through Washington D.C. to connect the Orange and Alexandria Railroad with northern railroads. Scott also advised creating transportation and telegraph bureaus and arranging draft exemptions for experienced civilian mechanics and locomotive engineers, for needed military railroad operations were compromised by the loss of experienced railroad men. The next year, despite Cameron's replacement by Edwin M. Stanton, Scott helped organize the Loyal War Governors' Conference in Altoona, Pennsylvania.
Later on, Scott took on the task of equipping a substantial military force for the Union war effort.He assumed supervision of government railroads and other transportation lines. He made the movement of supplies and troops more efficient and effective for the war effort on behalf of the Union. In one instance, he engineered the movement of 25,000 troops in 24 hours from Nashville, Tennessee, to Chattanooga, turning the tide of battle to a Union victory.
Scott also advised President Lincoln to travel covertly by rail to avoid Confederate spies and assassins.
Scott invested in oil exploration around the Ojai, California area, sending his nephew Thomas Bard to drill oil seeps noted by Benjamin Silliman. Bard produced California's first oil gusher in 1867.
During the American Reconstruction in the aftermath of the Civil War, the Southern states needed their economy and infrastructure restored, and more investment in railroads. They had lagged behind the North in railroad miles. The Northern-based railroads competed to acquire routes and construct rail lines in the South. Federal assistance was sought by both special interest groups, but the Crédit Mobilier of America scandal made this difficult in 1872. Congress became unwilling to grant railroad companies land grants in the Southwestern United States. Mindful of the corruption allegations which had dogged his friend Cameron, Scott was notoriously secretive about his business dealings, conducting most of his business in private letters, and instructing his business partners to destroy these letters after they were read.After the Civil War, Scott was heavily involved in investments in the fast-growing trans-Mississippi River route into Texas, with long-term plans for a southern transcontinental railway line connecting the Southern states and California. From 1871 to 1872, Scott was briefly the president of the Union Pacific Railroad, then the first transcontinental railroad owner. He was the president of the Pennsylvania Railroad from 1874, upon the death of his partner Thomson, until 1880. The financial Panic of 1873 and subsequent economic depression made it impossible to finance Scott's southern transcontinental railroad plans.
In his "Scott Plan" of the later 1870s, Scott proposed that the largely Democratic Southern politicians would give their votes in Congress and state legislatures for federal government subsidies to various infrastructure improvements, including in particular the Texas and Pacific Railway, which Scott headed. Scott employed the expertise of Grenville Dodge in buying the support of newspaper editors as well as various politicians to build public support for the subsidies. The Scott Plan became part of the Compromise of 1877, an informal and unwritten deal which settled the disputed Presidential election of 1876. However, it was never implemented. Railroad construction in the South remained at a low level after 1873 and its financial panic.
Despite Scott's best efforts, the Pennsylvania Railroad continued to lose money through the 1870s. Oil magnate John D. Rockefeller had shifted much of his transportation of product for Standard Oil to his pipelines, causing severe problems for the rail industry. Scott still controlled the railway to Pittsburgh, where the pipelines of Rockefeller did not extend, but the two men were unable to come to terms on transportation costs. In response, Rockefeller closed his plants in Pittsburgh, forcing Scott to enact aggressive pay deductions of workers.
In reaction, railroad workers went off the job and rioted in Pittsburgh; the city was the epicenter of the worst violence in the nation during the Great Railroad Strike of 1877. Scott, often referred to as one of the first robber barons of the Gilded Age, was quoted as saying that the strikers should be given "a rifle diet for a few days and see how they like that kind of bread."According to historian Heather Cox Richardson, Scott convinced President Hayes to use federal troops to end the strike, providing motivation for the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878.
Like his counterpart John Work Garrett of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, Scott never recovered from the 1877 strike. Scott's crucial business partner, John Edgar Thomson, had died in 1874. Scott suffered a stroke in 1878, limiting his ability to work.He died on May 21, 1881, and was buried at Woodlands Cemetery in Philadelphia.
The railroad-based economy of the United States was overtaken by the oil boom. Scott's protege Andrew Carnegie later challenged the Rockefeller monopoly in petroleum from his dominance of the steel industry. Just as the economy of railroads gave way to that of oil, oil in turn would face the emerging dominance of steel.During the American Civil War, the Union named a steam transport Thomas A. Scott to honor Scott. Ironically, Dr. Samuel Mudd, who had assisted President Lincoln's assassins, used it during his attempted escape from Fort Jefferson, Florida. Interested in education and health, Scott endowed certain positions at the University of Pennsylvania. His widow also made a variety of endowments in his name at the University of Pennsylvania, including:
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was the first common carrier railroad and the oldest railroad in the United States, with its first section opening in 1830. Merchants from Baltimore, which had benefited to some extent from the construction of the National Road early in the century, wanted to do business with settlers crossing the Appalachian Mountains. The railroad faced competition from several existing and proposed enterprises, including the Albany-Schenectady Turnpike, built in 1797, the Erie Canal, which opened in 1825, and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. At first, the B&O was located entirely in the state of Maryland; its original line extending from the port of Baltimore west to Sandy Hook, Maryland, opened in 1834. There it connected with Harper's Ferry, first by boat, then by the Wager Bridge, across the Potomac River into Virginia, and also with the navigable Shenandoah River.
This section of the Timeline of United States history concerns events from 1860 to 1899.
The Pennsylvania Railroad was an American Class I railroad that was established in 1846 and was headquartered in Philadelphia. Named for the commonwealth it was established in, by 1882, the Pennsylvania Railroad had become the largest railroad, the largest transportation enterprise, and the largest corporation in the world. Its budget was second only to the U.S. government.
Henry Morrison Flagler was an American industrialist and a founder of Standard Oil, which was first based in Ohio. He was also a key figure in the development of the Atlantic coast of Florida and founder of the Florida East Coast Railway. He is also known as a founder of the cities of Miami and Palm Beach, Florida.
The Compromise of 1877, also known as the Wormley Agreement or the Bargain of 1877, was an unwritten deal, informally arranged among members of the United States Congress, to settle the intensely disputed 1876 presidential election between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel J. Tilden. It resulted in acquiescence to the election of Hayes without resort to violence and the subsequent withdrawal of the last federal troops from the Southern United States, effectively ending the Reconstruction Era and forfeiting the Republican claims to the state governments in South Carolina, Florida and Louisiana.
Wooden railroads, called wagonways, were built in the United States starting from the 1720s. A railroad was reportedly used in the construction of the French fortress at Louisburg, Nova Scotia, in New France in 1720. Between 1762 and 1764, at the close of the French and Indian War (1756–1763), a gravity railroad was built by British military engineers up the steep riverside terrain near the Niagara River waterfall's escarpment at the Niagara Portage in Lewiston, New York.
The South Improvement Company was a short lived Pennsylvania corporation founded in late 1871 which existed until the state of Pennsylvania suspended its charter on April 2, 1872. It was created by major railroad and oil interests, and was widely seen as part of John D. Rockefeller's early efforts to organize and control the oil industry in the United States under Standard Oil. The company's purpose was to end a rate war with the rail trunk lines by dividing oil traffic more evenly between the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Erie Railroad, and the New York Central railroads. The second purpose of the company was to limit production of refined oil - the country had a daily refining capacity of 40,000 barrels and a market for only 16,000. Although the company never shipped any oil, the South Improvement Company scheme caused widespread attention to be focused on the relationships between big railroads and big businesses which wanted and demanded favorable treatment. In what would become known as the Cleveland Massacre, John D. Rockefeller and Henry Flagler bought eighteen refineries, only one of which wasn't located in Cleveland over a month's time between mid-February and mid-March 1872.
John Edgar Thomson was an American civil engineer and industrialist. An entrepreneur best known for his leadership of the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) from 1852 until his death in 1874, Thomson made it the largest business enterprise in the world and a world-class model for technological and managerial innovation. The railroad's first Chief Engineer became its third President.
Thomas Morrison Carnegie was a Scottish-born American industrialist. He was the brother of steel magnate Andrew Carnegie and co-founder of the Edgar Thomson Steel Works.
Moncure Robinson was an American civil engineer, railroad planner and builder and a railroad and steamboat owner, who is considered one of America's leading Antebellum period civil engineers. He was educated at the College of William and Mary and at the Sorbonne; his most noted project was the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad.
James Scott Negley was an American Civil War General, farmer, railroader, and U.S. Representative from the state of Pennsylvania. He played a key role in the Union victory at the Battle of Stones River.
Herman Haupt was an American civil engineer and railroad construction engineer and executive. As a Union Army General during the American Civil War, he revolutionized U.S. military transportation, particularly the use of railroads.
The Great Railroad Strike of 1877, sometimes referred to as the Great Upheaval, began on July 14 in Martinsburg, West Virginia, after the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) cut wages for the third time in a year. This strike finally ended 52 days later, after it was put down by unofficial militias, the National Guard, and federal troops. Because of economic problems and pressure on wages by the railroads, workers in numerous other cities, in New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland, into Illinois and Missouri, also went out on strike. An estimated 100 people were killed in the unrest across the country. In Martinsburg, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and other cities, workers burned down and destroyed both physical facilities and the rolling stock of the railroads—engines and railroad cars. Local populations feared that workers were rising in revolution such as the Paris Commune of 1871.
The Union Railroad is a Class III switching railroad located in Allegheny County in Western Pennsylvania. The company is owned by Transtar, Inc., which is itself a subsidiary of Fortress Transportation and Infrastructure Investors, after being purchased from United States Steel in 1988. The railroad's primary customers are the three plants of the USS Mon Valley Works, the USS Edgar Thomson Steel Works, the USS Irvin Works and the USS Clairton Works.
Henry H. Houston was a leading Philadelphia businessman and philanthropist. He worked in iron and transportation industries and invested in oil and precious metal concerns. He sat on boards of a number of railroad organizations and he was trustee of the University of Pennsylvania and Washington and Lee University. He developed Wissahickon Heights, an exclusive community in western Chestnut Hill.
The Edgar Thomson Steel Works is a steel mill in the Pittsburgh area communities of Braddock and North Braddock, Pennsylvania, United States. It has been active since 1875. It is currently owned by U.S. Steel and is known as Mon Valley Works – Edgar Thomson Plant on its official website.
The U.S. Military Railroad (USMRR) was established by the United States War Department as a separate agency to operate any rail lines seized by the government during the American Civil War. An Act of Congress of 31 January 1862 authorized President Abraham Lincoln to seize control of the railroads and telegraph for military use in January 1862. In practice, however, the USMRR restricted its authority to Southern rail lines captured in the course of the war. As a separate organization for rail transportation the USMRR is one of the predecessors of the modern United States Army Transportation Corps.
David Hostetter (1819–1888) was an American businessman and banker.
The Pittsburgh railway strike occurred in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as part of the Great Railroad Strike of 1877. It was one of many incidents of strikes, labor unrest and violence in cities across the United States, including several in Pennsylvania. Other cities dealing with similar unrest included Philadelphia, Reading, Shamokin and Scranton. The incidents followed repeated reductions in wages and sometimes increases in workload by railroad companies, during a period of economic recession following the Panic of 1873.
The Empire Transportation Company was a multimodal freight transportation company founded and operated by Joseph D. Potts in 1865. It owned a small fleet of boats on the Great Lakes which collected grain and produce which were then delivered to Erie, Pennsylvania. It owned 5,000 railroad cars, 1,500 of which were tank cars devoted to carrying oil. It also owned 520 miles of oil pipelines. By the mid-1870s, it hauled about 3,000,000 barrels of oil annually, of which about two-thirds came from independent oil refiners. The company was a subsidiary of the Pennsylvania Railroad and it was very profitable. In 1876 the company paid a 10 percent dividend ($400,000) on stock worth $4,000,000.