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Debating the Rail Route

In 1853 Congress authorized funds for the Army Corps of Engineers to survey four possible routes for a railway from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. Members of Congress recognized the potential for commerce and development that a transcontinental railway would bring, and they advocated strenuously for their own regions. Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri was an outspoken proponent of a central route. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, a former and future senator from Mississippi, favored a southern route.

1 Image Pamphlet, Highway to the Pacific…Speech of Mr. [Thomas Hart] Benton…... View All Images
1 Image Thomas Hart Benton, by Mathew Brady studio, ca. 1845-1850 View All Images
1 Image Amendment to H.R. 336 Authorizing a Survey for a Railroad Route to... View All Images
2 Images Field Note Journal of George McClellan, May 20–December 15, 1853 View All Images
1 Image Reports of Explorations and Surveys (13 volumes), 1855–1861 View All Images