Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States

Edited by: Lalor, John J.
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New York: Maynard, Merrill, and Co.
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Includes articles by Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Henry George, J. B. Say, Francis A. Walker, and more.
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CRÉDIT MOBILIER (IN U. S. HISTORY), a corporation chartered by the legislature of Pennsylvania; originally under the name of the "Pennsylvania Fiscal Agency." In 1864 the franchises were purchased by T. C. Durant and others, and the corporation became a company to construct the Union Pacific railroad. In the presidential campaign of 1872 the democratic newspapers and speakers charged that the vice-president, the vice-president elect, the secretary of the treasury, the speaker of the house, several senators, and a number of representatives, had been bribed, during the years 1867-8, by presents of crédit mobilier stock, to vote for legislation desired by the Union Pacific railroad. When congress met in December, 1872, the speaker demanded a committee of investigation, which was appointed by the speaker pro tempore, L. P. Poland, of Vermont, being chairman. The Poland committee made a report, Feb. 18, 1873, covering all the testimony which it had taken. It recommended the expulsion of Oakes Ames, of Massachusetts, for selling shares of crédit mobilier stock below their value to members of congress, "with intent to influence the votes of such members," and of James Brooks, of New York, for receiving such shares of stock through his son-in-law. Ames had long been the manager of the Union Pacific railroad's interests in congress; Brooks was a government director in the Union Pacific railroad. The house, instead of expelling, severely condemned the conduct of Messrs. Brooks and Ames. The whole affair was probably the most extensive legislative scandal ever known in the United States, and has since been revived at intervals. Of those attacked by it some were evidently innocent, many had given color to the accusation by indiscretion and found it difficult to prove their innocence, while others were evidently guilty, though it would have been difficult to prove their guilt.—(See Report No. 77, House of Representatives 42nd Congress, 3rd session; Appleton's Annual Cyclopœdia (1873), 213, 671; 30 Nation, 467.


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