Transcontinental Rail Road: A Significant Contribution To American History

2107 words - 9 pages

America’s timeline is overflowing with important people, places, inventions, and events that all bare significance and are responsible for shaping American life as we know it today. The building of the Railroad railway systems and of the Transcontinental Railroad forever changed American transportation, its economy and overall way of life. The Industrial Revolution was a key period in American history and the railroad was of extreme importance to the Industrial Revolution.
Railroad was the first big business in America and is still a crucial component on how America runs and transports. Railroads are just as big and important now as they were back then. The railroad was developed in Great Britain and the first successful locomotive was invented by George Stephenson of England in 1804. John Stevens is thought to be the father of Americas railroads because he was granted the first railway charter in North America in 1815. The first railroad track in North America was only thirteen miles long and opened in 1830.Construction of this track began at Baltimore Harbor on July 4, 1828 where the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence, Charles Carroll, who was 91 years old at that time, turned over the first spade full of dirt and laid the first stone for that railway.
In 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed a bill authorizing the construction of the first Transcontinental Railroad. It was the largest government construction project in United States history to that date and of that time. There were only two companies, Union Pacific and Central Pacific, that were responsible for the building of the Transcontinental Railroad. Union Pacific started construction in the East and Central Pacific started construction in the West. The Transcontinental Railroad was 1,776 miles long. Central Pacific built 690 miles of this and Union Pacific built the remainder 1,086 miles of the railroad. The railroad stretched from Omaha, Nebraska to Sacramento, California. Union Pacific and Central Pacific united in Promontory, Utah on May 10, 1869 and completed the Transcendental Railroad.
Civil War Veterans, Irish Immigrants, Americans, and Chinese immigrants were amongst the many different types and races of laborers for the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad. The overwhelming majority were the Chinese immigrants though. The Chinese immigrants made up more than eighty percent of the laborers. They were paid less than other workers and were made to work longer more grueling shifts for the lesser amount. Americans were treating the Chinese immigrant workers with harshness and extreme prejudice. They were treated as second class citizens in the towns and at work. The Chinese immigrant population became so massive that the American Government passed the “Chinese Exclusion Act”, which banned any more immigrants to enter the United States of America from China. Chinese immigrants that had come to America before this Act was passed were placed under...

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