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Evading Capture: U.S. Army Engineers and Railroad Policy, 1827–1853

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 December 2023

ROBERT KAMINSKI*
Affiliation:
University of Georgia

Abstract

Until 1838 the U.S. government lent railroads Army engineers to survey routes. Though not strictly regulators, these army engineers would consequently face powerful versions of the incentives that make regulatory capture a pervasive problem—including an intensified “revolving door,” the opportunity for institutional empire building, and a fertile ground for cognitive capture. Nevertheless, engineering officers would push to abolish federal railroad aid, succeeding by 1838. This article argues that they turned against railroad aid when the nation’s growing rail network revitalized long-standing republican hopes of replacing standing armies and fortifications with floating batteries and militias. Though this scheme was strategically quixotic, Jacksonian populism and fiscal retrenchment during the Panic of 1837 combined with the transportation revolution to make it appear a credible threat to the Corps’s institutional raison d’être—building coastal fortifications. Engineers thus turned against railroad aid to protect their core competency, highlighting underappreciated tensions between institutional and industry interests.

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Article
Copyright
© Donald Critchlow and Cambridge University Press, 2023

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References

NOTES

1. New York Herald, January 12, 1841, 2.

2. In the decades before Stigler’s article, scholars with various disciplinary and political commitments arrived at his conclusion “that, as a rule, regulation is acquired by the industry and is designed and operated primarily for its benefit.” Indeed, Stigler noted that economists denouncing “the ICC for its pro-railroad policies … has become a cliché of the literature.” His contribution was calling upon economists to move beyond this criticism to treat regulatory policy as a market with regulated firms as consumers. Stigler, George, “The Theory of Economic Regulation,” Bell Journal of Economics and Management Science 2, no. 1 (Spring 1971): 3Google Scholar, 17; Huntington, Samuel P., “The Marasmus of the ICC: The Commission, the Railroads, and the Public Interest,” Yale Law Journal 61, no. 4 (April 1952): 467509 Google Scholar; Gabriel Kolko, The Triumph of Conservatism: A Reinterpretation of American History, 1900-1916 (New York: The Free Press, 1963); McCraw, Thomas K., “Regulation in America: A Review Article,” Business History Review 49, no. 2 (Summer 1975): 159–83Google Scholar; Novak, William J., “A Revisionist History of Regulatory Capture,” in Preventing Regulatory Capture: Special Interest Influence and How to Limit It, ed. Carpenter, Daniel and Moss, David (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 2548 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

3. Stigler explains that firms sought to use state power to benefit their bottom lines via direct subsidy, regulatory barriers to entry, affecting markets for substitute or complement products, and price-fixing. Though he echoes Mancur Olson’s logic on factors shaping industries’ collective action vis-à-vis regulators, critics have noted that Stigler and other early capture theorists offered limited insight into which of various interested groups would capture regulators—a critique partially mitigated by later formalizations, though empirical work accounting for pluralist critiques remains important. Stigler, “Theory of Economic Regulation”; Posner, Richard, “Theories of Economic Regulation,” Bell Journal of Economics and Management Science 4 (1974): 335–58Google Scholar; McCraw, “Regulation in America,” 171–72; Sam Peltzman, “Toward a More General Theory of Regulation,” Journal of Law & Economics 19, no. 2 (August 1976): 211–40; Dal B, Ernestoó, “Regulatory Capture: A Review,” Oxford Review of Economic Policy 22, no. 2 (Summer 2006): 206–7Google Scholar.

4. Laffont, Jean-Jacques and Tirole, Jean, A Theory of Incentives in Procurement and Regulation (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1993)Google Scholar; Laffont, Jean-Jacques and Martimort, David, “Separation of Regulators against Collusive Behavior,” RAND Journal of Economics 30, no. 2 (Summer 1999): 232–62Google Scholar; Dal Bó, “Regulatory Capture,” 207–11.

5. There are, however, legitimate reasons why firms and regulators would draw from the same talent pool—most notably, industry expertise. Stigler, “Theory of Economic Regulation,”13; Berry, William D., “Utility Regulation in the States: The Policy Effects of Professionalism and Salience to the Consumer,” American Journal of Political Science 23, no. 2 (May 1979): 263–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Dal Bó, “Regulatory Capture.”

6. In an article reviewing regulatory capture theory, Ernesto Dal Bó notes that it—like the term regulation itself—could take narrow or broad meanings. The narrow definition concerns regulations (ostensibly) reining in natural monopolies in utility industries. “According to the broad interpretation,” however, “regulatory capture is the process through which special interests affect state intervention in any of its forms, which can include areas as diverse as the setting of taxes, the choice of foreign or monetary policy, or the legislation affecting R&D.” Though theorists have primarily focused upon the former, their insights generally apply equally to the broader definition as well. Dal Bó, “Regulatory Capture,” 203.

7. Luigi Zingales, “Preventing Economists’ Capture,” in Preventing Regulatory Capture, 124–51.

8. The War Department was one of two federal agencies that regularly interacted with railroads—dispensing survey aid to them until Congress ended the practice in 1838. It exercised significant discretion in this role, and Congress often deferred to its policy advice. Thus, railroads sought to capture engineering officers’ support both to claim survey aid directly and to influence legislative policy. With the General Survey Act’s 1838 repeal, the former motive would disappear while the latter would significantly weaken as the federal government largely retreated from railroad policy—making the mid-1830s the most interesting as a case study in avoiding capture.

9. Concern with cognitive or cultural capture has grown precipitously since responses to the 2007–2008 financial crisis highlighted “the attitude [that] took hold that what was good for Wall Street was good for the country,” though cognitive capture has implicitly been a part of regulatory capture theory since Samuel Huntington accused the ICC of conflating the interests of railroads with those of the nation. Simon Johnson, “The Quiet Coup,” The Atlantic 303, no.4 (May 2009): 46–55; Huntington, “Marasmus of the ICC,” 497–98; Simon Johnson and James Kwak, 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown (New York: Pantheon Books, 2010); Joseph Stiglitz, The Price of Inequality (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2012); Russ Roberts and Joseph Stiglitz, EconTalk, July 9, 2012; James Kwak, “Cultural Capture and the Financial Crisis,” in Preventing Regulatory Capture, 71–98.

10. One of the civic-republicanism literature’s major contributions has been uncovering the role concern with “corruption” played in early American political thought. For Revolutionary-Era Whigs, Gordon Wood explains, “corruption” was “a technical term of political science, rooted in the writings of classical antiquity, made famous by Machiavelli, developed by classical republicans of the seventeenth century, and carried into the eighteenth century by nearly everyone who laid claim to knowing anything about politics.” This idea, going back to Plato and Aristotle, involved the common good being subordinated to special interest—or, as William Novak has argued, the same problem capture theory confronts. Wood, Gordon S., The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787 (1969; repr., Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998), 3233 Google Scholar; Pocock, J. G. A., The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1975)Google Scholar; Novak, “Revisionist History of Regulatory Capture,” 38–46. See also, [James Madison], “The Federalist no. 10,” New York Packet, November 23, 1787; Adams, Charles F. Jr.The Government and the Railroad Corporations,” North American Review 112, no. 230 (January 1871), 3161 Google Scholar; Maier, Pauline, “The Revolutionary Origins of the American Corporation,” William and Mary Quarterly 50, no. 1 (January 1993): 5184 Google Scholar; Wright, Robert E., “Capitalism and the Rise of the Corporate Nation,” in Capitalism Takes Command: The Social Transformation of Nineteenth-Century America, ed. Zakim, Michael and Kornblith, Gary (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012), 145–68Google Scholar. John Lauritz Larson has identified internal improvements as a key area where Americans grappled with these concerns. John Lauritz Larson, Internal Improvement: National Public Works and the Promise of Popular Government in the Early United States (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001), 3, 257.

11. This post-1887 chronology reflects the significance of coercive public-utility regulation within capture theory, as the ICC inaugurated this regulatory model at the federal level. Nevertheless, nineteenth-century concerns with corruption reflect the applicability of capture’s broader definition where special interests seek to control any government policy. Huntington, “Marasmus of the ICC”; Kolko, The Triumph of Conservatism; Stigler, “Theory of Economic Regulation”; Posner, “Theories of Economic Regulation”; Novak, “Revisionist History of Regulatory Capture,” 32.

12. Novak, “Revisionist History of Regulatory Capture,” 32–33.

13. Novak compellingly highlighted the extent of state and local authority founded in common-law doctrine and theories of police power: William Novak, The People’s Welfare: Law and Regulation in Nineteenth-Century America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996). Moreover, historians have reinvigorated long-accepted arguments that state and local governments played a key role in economic development. See, for example, Dunlavy, Colleen A., Politics and Industrialization: Early Railroads in the United States and Prussia (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994)Google Scholar.

14. Skowronek, Stephen, Building a New American State: The Expansion of National Administrative Capacities, 1877-1920 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 19 CrossRefGoogle Scholar. New institutionalist historians and American-political-development scholars have supported Skowronek’s assessment with studies of federal armories, the Army in the West, and the Post Office. Smith, Merritt Roe, Harpers Ferry and the New Technology: The Challenge of Change (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1977)Google Scholar; Smith, Merritt Roe, “Military Entrepreneurship,” in Yankee Enterprise: The Rise of the American System of Manufactures, ed. Mayr, Otto and Post, Robert C. (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1981), 63102 Google Scholar; Hounshell, David A., From the American System to Mass Production, 1800–1932 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984)Google Scholar; John, Richard R., Spreading the News: The American Postal System from Franklin to Morse (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998)Google Scholar; Regele, Lindsay Schakenbach, Manufacturing Advantage: War, the State, and the Origins of American Industry, 1776-1848 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019)Google Scholar. Summarizing these historiographical developments, Novak argues that “The Myth of the ‘Weak’ American State” has never been true while Brian Balogh provides an explanation for this myth’s persistence—these efforts constituted “A Government Out of Sight.” Novak, William J., “The Myth of the ‘Weak’ American State,” American Historical Review 113, no. 3 (June 2008): 752–72Google Scholar; Brian Balogh, A Government Out of Sight: The Mystery of National Authority in Nineteenth-Century America (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009).

15. Thomas McCraw offered the classic treatment of regulator as entrepreneur, an idea further developed by Richard John and Daniel Carpenter. They depict energetic state actors leveraging a reputation for competence to carve out a sphere of bureaucratic autonomy. McCraw, Thomas K., Prophets of Regulation (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1984)Google Scholar; John, Richard R., “Governmental Institutions as Agents of Change: Rethinking American Political Development in the Early Republic, 1787-1835,” Studies in American Political Development 11 (Fall 1997): 347–80Google Scholar; Carpenter, Daniel, The Forging of Bureaucratic Autonomy: Reputations, Networks and Policy Innovation in Executive Agencies, 1862-1928 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001)Google Scholar. Scholars have offered varying interpretations of government officials’ entrepreneurship with John’s depiction of the Postmaster General John McLean approaching hagiography while Virginia-School political economist Gordon Tullock castigated “bureaucratic free enterprise” and “imperial bureaucratic systems” as at least as dangerous as regulators’ capture by industry. John, Spreading the News; Gordon Tullock, Bureaucracy (1965; repr., Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund, 2005), 178–88. Between these poles, stand organizational historians like Robert Wiebe, Alfred Chandler, and Louis Galambos who reframed American history around the development of large-scale hierarchical organizations. Robert H. Wiebe, The Search for Order, 1877-1920 (New York: Hill and Wang, 1967); Louis Galambos, “The Emerging Organizational Synthesis in Modern American History,” Business History Review 44, no. 3 (Autumn 1970): 279–90; Alfred D. Chandler, Jr., The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in American Business (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1977). Though these literatures focus on the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, their conceptualization of bureaucratic entrepreneurship and organizational imperatives apply to the Jacksonian-Era engineers who took the lead in the professionalization of America’s Army in addition to John’s Post Office. Engineering officers faced incentives to expand their branch of the Army just as any of these bureaucratic officials do—incentives aligning with those of railroad-industry figures hoping to capture additional engineering aid. As Samuel Huntington briefly summarized, “It can be extremely difficult to draw the line between the soldier giving professional advice to Congress as to what the country needs for its defense and the soldier lobbying Congress.” Samuel P. Huntington, The Soldier and the State (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1957), 180; Huntington, “Marasmus of the ICC,” 467; William B. Skelton, An American Profession of Arms: The Army Officer Corps, 1784-1861 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1992).

16. Forest G. Hill, “Government Engineering Aid to Railroads before the Civil War,” Journal of Economic History 11, no. 3 (Summer 1951): 235–46; Forest G. Hill, Roads, Rails & Waterways: The Army Engineers and Early Transportation (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1957); James D. Dilts, The Great Road: The Building of the Baltimore and Ohio, the Nation’s First Railroad, 1828-1853 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1993); Dunlavy, Politics and Industrialization; Robert G. Angevine, “Individuals, Organizations, and Engineering: U.S. Army Officers and the American Railroads, 1827-1838,” Technology and Culture 42, no. 2 (April 2001): 292–320; Robert G. Angevine, The Railroad and the State: War, Politics, and Technology in Nineteenth-Century America (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004), 27–48, 65–105.

17. Michel Chevalier, Society, Manners and Politics in the United States (Boston: Weeks, Jordan and Company, 1839), 272; Hill, Roads, Rails & Waterways; Angevine, Railroad and the State, 22–40.

18. Albany Argus, September 18, 1832, 2; American Railroad Journal 1 (August 11, 1832): 513; American Railroad Journal 1 (September 1, 1832): 562.

19. Dunlavy, Politics and Industrialization, 129; Larson, Internal Improvement, 190–91.

20. Strictly speaking, railroads’ efforts to obtain engineering aid stood on the boundary between rent seeking and regulatory capture. The ends they sought—obtaining subsidized use of engineering officers—have traditionally been treated in terms of rent seeking. Nevertheless, the means through which railroads sought engineering aid and the incentives faced by the officer corps can be better understood within the framework of capture, broadly defined. Engineering officers exercised significant discretion over survey-aid policy and influence over lawmakers. Moreover, from 1827 to 1838, engineering officers assigned to survey duty simultaneously drew salaries from both railroads and the War Department—creating a hothouse version of capture theory’s revolving door.

21. Lewis Cass, “Annual Report of the Secretary of War,” November 30, 1835, American State Papers: Military Affairs (hereafter, ASP:MA), 5:630–31; L. Cass to A. Jackson, April 7, 1836, ASP:MA, 6:369–73.

22. John C. Calhoun, “Report on Roads and Canals,” in Works of John C. Calhoun, ed. Richard Cralle (New York: 1856), 5:40–54; Angevine, Railroad and the State, 15–18.

23. S. Bernard, J. D. Elliot, and J. G. Totten to J. C. Calhoun, February 7, 1821, ASP:MA, 2:310; Robert S. Browning, III, Two if by Sea: The Development of American Coastal Defense Policy (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1983), 29–34.

24. S. Bernard and J. G. Totten, “Report,” October 5, 1823, in Report of the Commissioners Appointed by the Legislature of the State of New-Jersey, for the Purpose of Exploring the Route of a Canal to Unite the River Delaware, Near Easton, with the Passaic, Near Newark (Morristown, NJ: Jacob Mann, 1823), 65. Bernard and Totten would also serve alongside a civil engineer on the Board of Engineers for Internal Improvements President Monroe established following 1824’s General Survey Act until the French engineer’s 1831 resignation when it fell into abeyance. Hill, Roads, Rails & Waterways, 49–78.

25. Hill, Roads, Rails & Waterways, 30–34. This represented merely one front of Calhoun’s bureaucratic entrepreneurship at the War Department, where “his impact … was similar to Hamilton’s on the Treasury Department.” Skelton, American Profession of Arms, 117.

26. U.S. Statutes at Large, 18th Cong., 1st sess. (April 30, 1824), 4:22–23.

27. A. Macomb to J. Barbour, November 20, 1827, ASP:MA, 3:630; Barbour, “Showing the Condition of the Military Establishment and Fortifications,” November 26, 1827, ASP:MA, 3:616.

28. A. Macomb to J. Barbour, November 20, 1827, ASP:MA, 3:630.

29. Like Barbour, they linked railroad surveys with the canal and road surveys that enjoyed explicit legislative authorization. And, in Porter’s words, they “express[ed] an opinion [to Congress] that the liberal appropriations” aiding canal and railroad construction “were amongst the most valuable acts of its legislation, and a hope that the same policy may be continued.” L. Cass to A. Jackson, April 7, 1836, ASP:MA, 6:373; John Eaton, “On the Importance of the Topographical Engineers in the Army,” ASP:MA 4:631; P. B. Porter, “Annual Report from the Department of War,” November 24, 1828, ASP:MA, 4:2.

30. One of the most prominent army engineers surveying roads at the time, William McNeill, insightfully explained that Cass’s policy stretched “the small appropriation by Congress of but $30,000” over many roads in “not only the most impartial, but also the most effective” way. American Railroad Journal 1 (August 11, 1832), 513; American Railroad Journal 1 (September 1, 1832), 562. Cass’s move also shielded engineering aid from criticism as a handout to politically connected monopolists—a significant concern during the Jacksonian era that played a major role in the rise of general incorporation laws. Albany Argus, September 18, 1832, 2; Maier, “Revolutionary Origins of the American Corporation”; Angevine, “Individuals, Organizations, and Engineering,” 308–12; Wright, “Capitalism and the Rise of the Corporate Nation.”

31. Quoted in Angevine, Railroad and the State, 31.

32. All 14 army engineers who served the road would remain engaged in railroad engineering, with Stephen Long and William Gibbs McNeill becoming some of the most prominent American railroad engineers. Indeed, these officers would remain more committed to railroad service than military service in the subsequent decade. Hill, Roads, Rails & Waterways, 101–6, 140–52, esp. 105; Dilts, The Great Road, 49–80.

33. Engineering, mathematics, and natural philosophy would represent 71 percent of its four-year curriculum by the mid-1830s. Browning, Two if By Sea, 62; Skelton, American Profession of Arms, 167–72; Angevine, Railroad and the State, 22–40.

34. Although recent scholarship on the limits of capture has debated the degree of legislative control over administrative agencies’ regulatory rule making, prior to 1946’s Administrative Procedures Act legislators often relied on agencies’ recommendations to create specific legislation. Thus, the reverse dynamic was often present with entrepreneurial nineteenth-century administrators wielding significant influence over legislation. McCraw, Prophets of Regulation; John, “Governmental Institutions”; Carpenter, Forging of Bureaucratic Autonomy; Steven P. Croley, Regulation and Public Interests (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008).

35. National Gazette, August 9, 1831, 1.

36. The New-London Gazette; October 22, 1834, 1; Daily National Intelligencer; November 13, 1833, 3; Newark Daily Advertiser, October 4, 1834, 2; Richmond Enquirer, November 29, 1833, 4.

37. Angevine, Railroad and the State, 41–63; E. G. Campbell, “Railroads in National Defense, 1829-1848,” Mississippi Valley Historical Review 27, no. 3 (Dec. 1940): 361–78; James Arthur Ward, Railroads and the Character of America, 1820-1887 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1986), 12–55.

38. Railroads used claims of military utility to strengthen their claims before not only Congress but also the War Department itself. After all, the Department was no more immune from political considerations than the solons. In one egregious example, a handful of cotton planters expedited military support for a 26-mile road linking their plantations to port by sending a letter from a former congressman carried by a friend and Battle-of-New-Orleans compatriot of President Jackson. Angevine, “Individuals, Organizations, and Engineering,” 308–12.

39. James D. Graham, “Report to the President and Directors of the Alabama, Georgia, and Florida Railroad Company,” American Railroad Journal 5 (July 23, 1836): 452–55; William S. Campbell, Report on the Alabama, Florida and Georgia Railroad (E. G. Dorsey, 1838), 5.

40. Campbell, Report on the Alabama, Florida and Georgia Railroad, 111–13.

41. S. Doc. No. 244, 25th Cong., 2d sess. (1837–38), in Congressional Edition, Vol. 317 (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1838); Senate Journal, June 25, 1838, 493.

42. H.R. Exec. Doc. No. 198, 25th Cong., 3d Sess., at 1–2.

43. Senate Journal, June 25, 1838, 493; January 31, 1839, 179–80.

44. American Railroad Journal 5 (October 15, 1836): 642; Campbell, “Railroads in National Defense”; Ward, Railroads and the Character of America, 12–55; Angevine, Railroad and the State, 9–14.

45. James Barbour typified this trend, veering from strict constructionism before the War of 1812 to strong postbellum advocacy for an internal improvements fund organized within the national bank on grounds of concern with the nation’s defense. Charles D. Lowery, James Barbour: A Jeffersonian Republican (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1984), 79, 97–107, 172–73, 230; Angevine, Railroad and the State, 18–21. Lewis Cass explicitly based his suggested defensive strategy on analysis of the War of 1812. L. Cass to A. Jackson, April 7, 1836, ASP:MA, 6:366–76.

46. Baltimore Sun, January 18, 1841, 2; Edmund P. Gaines, “A Plan for the Defence of the Western Frontier,” H.R. Doc. No. 311. 25th Cong., 2d Sess., at 45 (1838); Gaines, “Report of a general inspection of the military posts of the Western Department,” February 27, 1829, ASP:MA, 4:104–6. For the revolutionary implications of steamboats’ military use on a global scale, see Daniel R. Headrick, The Tools of Empire: Technology and European Imperialism in the Nineteenth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981).

47. For example, Secretary Cass eulogized railroad’s defensive value in similar terms: L. Cass to A. Jackson, April 7, 1836, ASP:MA, 6:373. Seven decades later, British geographer Halford Mackinder would systematize a theory much like Gaines and Cass’s arguments in one of the most influential grand strategic analyses of the twentieth century—one which would be largely vindicated by subsequent events. Halford Mackinder, “The Geographical Pivot of History,” The Geographical Journal 23, no. 4 (April 1904): 421–37; Paul M. Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery (Amherst, NY: Humanity Books, 1976), 196.

48. J. G. Totten to C. M. Conrad, November 1, 1851, in Reports of Committees of the House of Representatives Made During the Second Session of the Thirty-Seventh Congress (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1862), 4:349; Boston Commercial Gazette, July 16, 1827; The New-London Gazette; October 22, 1834, 1; Daily National Intelligencer; November 13, 1833, 3; Newark Daily Advertiser, October 4, 1834, 2; Richmond Enquirer, November 29, 1833, 4; James Barbour, “Showing the Condition of the Military Establishment and Fortifications,” November 26, 1827, ASP:MA, 3:616; Porter, “Annual Report,” November 24, 1828, ASP:MA, 4:2; A. Macomb to J. Barbour, November 20, 1827, ASP:MA, 3:630. L. Cass to A. Jackson, April 7, 1836, ASP:MA, 6:366–73; J. G Totten to C. Gratiot, March 29, 1836, ASP:MA, 6:379–96.

49. B. F. Butler, “Annual report of the Secretary of War,” December 3, 1836, ASP:MA, 6:811; “Extract from a communication from the chief engineer to Secretary of War, dated November 18, 1829,” ASP:MA, 5:452.

50. Officers ranked below major made between $774 and $955 annually, whereas assistant civil engineers made $1,000 to $1,700 annually between 1830 and 1834 and could often hold multiple positions simultaneously. Angevine, “Individuals, Organizations, and Engineering,” 315–16; Calhoun, Daniel Hovey, The American Civil Engineer: Origins and Conflict (Cambridge, MA: Technology Press, 1960), 167–69Google Scholar, 172; Skelton, American Profession of Arms, 190–91, 199–200.

51. Huntington, The Soldier and the State, 199.

52. These included both engineers and line officers, who also drew on their West-Point training to obtain favorable positions at railroads. Skelton, American Profession of Arms, 182–84, 192–202, 217–19.

53. In 1848, West Point’s board of visitors noted the same trend in a report on the careers of its graduates. It found 103 civil engineers and 29 chief engineers of canals or railroads among the academy’s alumni though only 96 West Point graduates had been assigned to either engineering corps during their service. Self-interested reasons to support federal railroad policy thus touched nonengineering army officers. “Report of the Board of Visitors,” H.R. Exec. Doc. No. 1, 30th Cong., 2d Sess., at 294–95.

54. Cong. Globe, Vol. 6, 25th Cong., 2d Sess. 133 (February 5, 1838).

55. Angevine, “Individuals, Organizations, and Engineering,” 314–15; Skelton, American Profession of Arms, 82–190.

56. Skelton, American Profession of Arms, 292–93. For more related literature, see note 15.

57. “Extract from a communication from the chief engineer to Secretary of War, dated November 18, 1829,” ASP:MA, 5:452.

58. Eaton, “On the Importance of the Topographical Engineers in the Army,” ASP:MA, 4:631; “Extract from a communication from the Secretary of War to Hon. A. Stephenson, Speaker of the House of Representatives, dated January 13, 1831,” ASP:MA, 5:452.

59. C. Gratiot to L. Cass, “Report from the Engineer Department,” November 15, 1835, ASP:MA, 5:654–61.

60. Cass, “Annual Report,” November 30, 1835, ASP:MA, 5:627–28; L. Cass to T. H. Benton, Jan. 14, 1836, ASP:MA, 6:11.

61. C. Gratiot to J. R. Poinsett, “Report from the Chief Engineer,” November 30, 1837, ASP:MA, 7:631–39.

62. Angevine notes that 20 of the 32 officers who surveyed railroads between 1827 and 1838 resigned by the latter year, with the largest single year for resignations being 1836 when 17 percent of the Army’s commissioned officers resigned. Skelton, American Profession of Arms, 217; Angevine, Railroad and the State, 87–98. This turnover within the officer corps joined changes in war-department leadership in contributing to the military establishment’s decisive mid-1830s turn against survey aid by removing its most pro-railroad officers.

63. In addition to generally arguing for status quo railroad policy, Abert accurately predicted that banning roads from supplementing engineer salaries would push “some of the most valuable, best informed, and most enterprising officers from the Service.” On the other hand, Secretary Butler deftly, but inaccurately, downplayed this shift. Hill, Roads, Rails & Waterways, 87–88; “Extract from a communication from the chief engineer to Secretary of War, dated November 18, 1829,” ASP:MA, 5:452; Cass, “Annual Report,” November 30, 1835, ASP:MA, 5:627–28; Butler, “Annual Report,” December 3, 1836, ASP:MA, 6:809–10; J. R. Poinsett, “Annual Report of the Secretary of War,” December 2, 1837, ASP:MA, 7:573–74.

64. Carpenter, Forging of Bureaucratic Autonomy.

65. Poinsett, “Annual Report,” December 2, 1837, ASP:MA, 7:571–79.

66. Cong. Globe, Vol. 6, 25th Cong., 2d Sess. 133, Appendix 64–65 (February 5, 1838; January 10, 1838).

67. Cong. Globe, Vol. 6, 25th Cong., 2d Sess. 133 (February 5, 1838); Poinsett, “Annual Report,” December 2, 1837, ASP:MA, 7:571–79. Poinsett and Buchanan were right that America boasted a growing cohort of civil engineers—many trained at West Point and survey-duty’s school of practice. Although officials like Chief Topographical Engineer J. J. Abert would later acknowledge this new interest group’s jealousies regarding railroad aid, they played little part within mid-1830s policy debates. Hill, Roads, Rails & Waterways, 137, 140–52.

68. Cong. Globe, Vol. 6, 25th Cong., 2d Sess. 133 (February 5, 1838).

69. Army and Navy Chronicle 10, no. 9 (February 27, 1840): 137; Poinsett, “Annual Report,” December 2, 1837, ASP:MA, 7:571–79; U.S. Statutes at Large, 25th Cong., 2d Sess., 5:256–60 (July 5, 1838).

70. U.S. Statutes at Large, 25th Cong., 2d Sess. 5:256–60 (July 5, 1838).

71. Baltimore Sun, December 18, 1839, 2.

72. Gaines, “Plan for the Defence of the Western Frontier”; Gaines, “Memorial of Edmund P. Gaines,” H.R. Doc. No. 206, 26th Cong., 1st Sess. (1840).

73. The Nemesis set sail from Portsmouth on March 28, 1840, reaching Macau by November 25. It subsequently became the foremost example of gunboats’ ability to project imperial power inland along rivers. Headrick, Tools of Empire, 19–54.

74. Gaines, “Memorial,” 14.

75. Gaines, “Memorial,” 10.

76. New York Herald, November 21, 1840, 2.

77. Charleston Mercury, December 8, 1840, 2; January 13, 1841, 2; New Hampshire Sentinel, December 16, 1840, 2; Baltimore Sun, January 13 and 18, 1841, 2; The Farmers’ Cabinet (Amherst, NH), January 22, 1841, 2; Pittsfield Sun, January 14, 1841, 1; Elizabeth Urban Alexander, Notorious Woman: The Celebrated Case of Myra Clark Gaines (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2001), 165.

78. Gaines had already voiced a version of this vision by 1826. E. P. Gaines to Jacob Brown, “General Remarks Concerning the Militia of the United States,” Cincinnati, December 2, 1826, in H.R. Doc. No. 104, 20th Cong., 2d Sess. 17 (1829); Gaines, “Memorial,” 11; Baltimore Sun, January 18, 1841, 2; New York Herald, January 12, 1841, 2.

79. Baltimore Sun, January 18, 1841, 2.

80. New Orleans Daily Picayune, April 10, 1840, 2.

81. Philip Hone, Diary of Philip Hone, 1828-1851, ed. Allan Nevins (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1927), 2:515–16.

82. The Farmers’ Cabinet (Amherst, NH), January 22, 1841, 2.

83. Cong. Globe, 26th Cong., 1st Sess. 311–13 (April 14, 1840); J. R. Poinsett to R. M. T. Hunter, May 12, 1840, in H.R. Doc. No. 206, 26th Cong., 1st Sess. 1 (1840).

84. J. G. Totten, S. Thayer, T. Cross, and G. Talcott to J. R. Poinsett, “Report on the Atlantic Frontier from Passamaquoddy to the Sabine,” in H.R. Doc. No. 206, 26th Cong., 1st Sess. 5 (1840).

85. L. Cass to A. Jackson, April 7, 1836, ASP:MA, 6:376; J. G. Totten, “Report on the Armories, Arsenals, Magazines, and Foundries,” in H.R. Doc. No. 206, 26th Cong., 1st Sess. 113–17 (1840); J. G. Totten to J. G. Poinsett, “Confidential notes in relation to Ordnance,” January 29, 1840, Vol. 4, 132–37, Entry-146, Letters and Reports of Col. Joseph G. Totten, Chief of Engineers, Record Group 77, National Archives (hereafter E-146, RG-77, National Archives); Browning, Two if by Sea, 44–46.

86. Campbell, “Railroads in National Defense,” 369. Robert Angevine would similarly attribute the military establishment’s hardened stance against railroad policy to Gaines’s increasingly anti-standing-army and antifortification rhetoric. Angevine, Railroad and the State, 50–51, 58–59, 62–63.

87. During his St.-Louis lecture, Gaines speculated that the engineers opposed his proposal “because it is my system” before proceeding to show why by mocking the corps-run West Point. Emphasis in original. Quoted in Mark A. Smith, Engineering Security: the Corps of Engineers and the Third System Defense Policy, 1815-1861 (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2009), 121–23.

88. Niles’ National Register captured the essence of how Gaines’s personal conflicts could eclipse his policy concerns by commenting on his “gratuitous fling at general Scott” rather than the erstwhile Indian fighter’s relatively conciliatory stance toward the Seminoles. Niles’ National Register, June 22, 1839, 271. Gaines’s “gratuitous fling” at Scott represented just one salvo of a lifelong feud that led President Adams to bypass them—the Army’s two top-ranked officers—when selecting a commanding general in 1828. Additionally, Gaines recklessly presided over two British citizens’ court martial and hanging during the illegal incursion into Spanish Florida led by Andrew Jackson—another general with whom Gaines eventually feuded. Gaines found himself on the other side of a court martial between 1846 and 1848 after calling up volunteers in Louisiana during the Mexican War—reflecting the General’s barely disguised scorn for the War Department’s civilian leadership, including those whose shared his policy priorities like Lewis Cass. James W. Silver, Edmund Pendleton Gaines: Frontier General (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1949), 258–71; Samuel J. Watson, Jackson’s Sword: The Army Officer Corps on the American Frontier, 1810-1821 (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2012).

89. During the military establishment’s mid-1830s turn against railroad policy, their prime foil was Secretary Lewis Cass—whose biographer reported “a remarkable consensus of opinion” that “his courteous demeanor and his frank friendliness … endeared him to political foes, and disarmed factious opposition.” They helped him remain popular in military circles throughout his career and achieve unanimous consent when appointed ambassador to France at “the height of political animosity in those bitter days” of the late Jackson Administration. Arkansas Intelligencer, February 28, 1846, 2; Andrew Cunningham McLaughlin, Lewis Cass (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1891), v, 163, 222.

90. J. G. Totten, S. Thayer, T. Cross, and G. Talcott to J. R. Poinsett, “Report on the Atlantic Frontier,” 5.

91. Gaines’s contribution to these debates nuances Skelton’s classification of him as an indicative member of the post-1812 generation whose military professionalism replaced the early-national regime when “no clear line separated the army officer corps from the civilian world.” Skelton, American Profession of Arms, 68, 110–17.

92. When Gallatin wrote that his system of canals would help “secure[] external independence, domestic peace, and internal liberty,” he reflected a tradition within republican political economy that considered not only citizens’ socioeconomic independence necessary for true liberty but also their virtue. This tradition, in Drew McCoy’s phrasing, viewed “‘industry’ as the cornerstone of the republican personality” and feared a threat to it in America’s fecund soil—without commercial outlets the nation’s yeomen were liable to “indolence, lethargy, dissipation, and barbarous dependence—characteristics hardly befitting a republican people.” The desire to avoid this eventuality had motivated internal-improvements projects from at least the late colonial period, provided the spur for the Louisiana Purchase, and inflected Gallatin’s internal-improvements proposal. Albert Gallatin, “Report on Roads and Canals,” ASP:Miscellaneous 1:724–921, esp. 1:725, 740–41; Drew R. McCoy, The Elusive Republic: Political Economy in Jeffersonian America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1980), 122, 197; Henry Adams, Life of Albert Gallatin (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1879), 350–52; Larson, Internal Improvement, 59–63.

93. Gallatin, himself, embodied this vision in an 1802 letter to his wife declaring, “The distribution of our little army to distant garrisons … is the most eligible arrangement of that perhaps necessary evil that can be contrived. But I never want to see the face of one [soldier] in our cities and intermixed with the people.” A. Gallatin to H. Gallatin, July 7, 1802, in Adams, Life of Albert Gallatin, 304. See also: Bernard Bailyn, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (1967; repr., Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2017); Lawrence Delbert Cress, Citizens in Arms: The Army and Militia in American Society to the War of 1812 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1982); Watson, Jackson’s Sword, 266–71.

94. Calhoun, “Report on Roads and Canals,” 5:42.

95. Militias require time to rally before responding to a threat, while standing armies and fortifications were significantly less time sensitive, meaning militias could not respond to fast-developing threats as effectively as standing armies.

96. William Redfield, Sketch of the Geographical Rout of a Great Railway (New York: G. & C. & H. Carvill, 1830), 9–17, 22.

97. Cass was promoted from colonel to major general of the Ohio militia in December 1812 but prevented from assuming this command by his prisoner-of-war parole until January when he became colonel of a regular regiment before receiving another quick promotion to brigadier general. Cass, “Annual Report,” November 30, 1835, ASP:MA, 5:630–31; L. Cass to A. Jackson, April 7, 1836, ASP:MA, 6:369–73; McLaughlin, Lewis Cass, 83.

98. L. Cass to A. Jackson, April 7, 1836, ASP:MA, 6:369–70; J. G. Totten to C. Gratiot, March 29, 1836, ASP:MA, 6:379.

99. Andrew Jackson, “On the Means and Measures Necessary for the Military and Naval Defences of the Country,” April 8, 1836, ASP:MA, 6:365; Cass, “Annual Report,” November 30, 1835, ASP:MA, 5:630–31; L. Cass to A. Jackson, April 7, 1836, ASP:MA, 6:369–73.

100. Totten, “Report on the Armories, Arsenals, Magazines, and Foundries,” 113–17; Smith, Engineering Security, 107.

101. J. G. Totten to C. M. Conrad, November 1, 1851, 4:348–54.

102. J. R. Poinsett to R. M. T. Hunter, May 12, 1840.

103. Though the Third-System forts would prove obsolete by the Civil War, and Samuel Watson has suggested that Gaines’s steam batteries “would become recognizable 50 years later as the battleship,” Mark Smith rightly objects that the guns on display at Fort Sumter had not yet been invented and such vessels remained infeasible. Samuel J. Watson, “Knowledge, Interest and the Limits of Military Professionalism: The Discourse on American Coastal Defence, 1815–1860,” War in History 5, no. 3 (July 1998): 295; Smith, Engineering Security, 104.

104. E. P. Gaines to Jacob Brown, “General Remarks Concerning the Militia of the United States,” Cincinnati, December 2, 1826.

105. “The proposed railroads would,” Gaines argued, “enable us to obtain more useful service … from ten thousand men … [than] we could obtain from an army of one hundred thousand.” Gaines, “Memorial,” 11. The topographical engineers explained that Gaines underestimated his system’s mileage by 1,000 and “state[d] the average … of a double track at $15,000 per mile” while “$20,000 per mile, for a single track” was “a probable minimum.” Even this likely underestimated the cost of construction. J. J. Abert to J. R. Poinsett, April 24, 1840, in H.R. Doc. No. 206, 26th Cong., 1st Sess. 144–45 (1840); Dunlavy, Politics and Industrialization, 212–15.

106. Cong. Globe, 26th Cong., 1st Sess. 524–25 (July 14, 1840).

107. Skowronek, Dearborn, and King recently framed Jackson’s bank war as an early contest between a unitary executive claiming democratic legitimacy and the “deep state.” Stephen Skowronek, John A. Dearborn, and Desmond King, Phantoms of a Beleaguered Republic (New York: Oxford University Press, 2021), 41–42.

108. Or, in the words of one Cass biographer, “a Bastille of respectability had fallen, and the guillotine soon lopped off the heads of the office-holding nobility, who had too long lived in aristocratic ease above ‘the people.’” L. Cass to A. Jackson, April 7, 1836, ASP:MA, 6:373; McLaughlin, Lewis Cass, 137; John, Spreading the News, 206–56.

109. Skelton, American Profession of Arms, 93–142, 167–80; Smith, Engineering Security, 1, 9–13, 102, 108; Watson, Jackson’s Sword, 255–71.

110. Smith, Engineering Security, 93–111.

111. Browning, Two if by Sea, 33–46.

112. Myra Clark Gaines, “The Horrors of War,” in Robert Gibbes Barnwell, The New-Orleans Book (Boston: Wright & Hasty’s Steam Press, 1851), 106–10.

113. S. Bernard, J. D. Elliot, and J. G. Totten to J. C. Calhoun, February 7, 1821, ASP:MA, 2:310; Watson, “Knowledge, Interest and the Limits of Military Professionalism,” 280–307.

114. Emphasizing Cass’s points of consensus with the Corps’s vision for the Third System, Smith highlights how Cass asked for funding for ongoing fortification projects and suggested only $100,000 to experiment with steam-towed batteries rather than the $660,000 the Senate initially floated. Nevertheless, Cass’s willingness to experiment with floating batteries and to question permanent fortifications represented a notable break that provided fodder for defense-funding critics like Senators Hugh White and John P. King. Smith, Engineering Security, 69–81, 107.

115. Since Temin’s classic work, scholars have revisited his conclusions about Jacksonian policy and the arrival of the Panic of 1837—suggesting that the distribution of the federal surplus and the Specie Circular contributed to the fragility of the eastern banks. Though many banks resumed payment in 1838, crisis would return the following March. The Crisis of 1839 is often—though not always—treated as a separate event, reflecting the ongoing controversy over the overall scale of the Panic of 1837’s effects. Because annual output data suitable to analyze business cycles do not exist for the period, this will likely remain a perennial site of debate for economic historians. Peter Temin, The Jacksonian Economy (New York: W.W. Norton, 1969); Richard Sylla, “Review of Peter Temin’s The Jacksonian Economy,” eh.net, August 17, 2001, https://eh.net/book_reviews/the-jacksonian-economy/; Rousseau, Peter L., “Jacksonian Monetary Policy, Specie Flows, and the Panic of 1837,” Journal of Economic History 62, no. 2 (June 2002): 457–88Google Scholar; Roberts, Alasdair, America’s First Great Depression (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012)Google Scholar; Lepler, Jessica M., The Many Panics of 1837: People, Politics, and the Creation of a Transatlantic Financial Crisis (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013)Google Scholar; Peter L. Rousseau, “Jackson, the Bank War, and the Legacy of the Second Bank of the United States,” AEA Papers and Proceedings 111 (May 2021): 501–7.

116. These numbers also reflected reduced tariff rates. Regardless, they acted as a constraint on federal spending.

117. As diarist Philip Hone predicted, they would also prompt international investors to “stigmatize the Yankees as a nation of swindlers.” Quoted in Lepler, Many Panics of 1837, 221; Larson, Internal Improvement, 211–24.

118. Skelton, American Profession of Arms, 217; Angevine, Railroad and the State, 87–98.

119. Watson, “Knowledge, Interest and the Limits of Military Professionalism,” 302; Smith, Engineering Security, 81.

120. Carpenter, Forging of Bureaucratic Autonomy.

121. J. G. Totten to S. Thayer, June 24, 1842, Vol. 5, 199–200, E-146, RG-77, National Archives.

122. in passim, especially: J. G. Totten to S. Thayer, June 23, 1840, Vol. 5, 1–2; J. G. Totten to S. Thayer, February 10, 1841, Vol. 5, 66; J. G. Totten to S. Thayer, June 24, 1842, Vol. 5, 199–200, E-146, RG-77, National Archives; Skelton, American Profession of Arms, 292–93.

123. J. G. Totten to H. Halleck, November 2, 1842, Vol. 5, 250, E-146, RG-77, National Archives.

124. J. G. Totten to J. R. Poinsett, March 29, 1839, Vol. 4, 56–57; J. G. Totten to J. R. Poinsett, December 10, 1839, Vol. 4, 117, E-146, RG-77, National Archives.

125. R. E. De Russy to J. G. Totten, July 26, 1851, in Reports of Committees of the House of Representatives Made During the Second Session of the Thirty-Seventh Congress, 4:504.

126. J. G. Totten to W. H. Chase, January 16, 1842, Vol. 5, 127, E-146, RG-77, National Archives.

127. John G. Barnard, Eulogy on the late Brevet Major-General Joseph G. Totten (New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1866), 9; J. G. Totten to J. R. Poinsett, February 13, 1839, Vol. 4, 11–18 and J. G. Totten to Robert C. Nicholas, May 2, 1840, Vol. 4, E-146, RG-77, National Archives.

128. in passim, especially: J. G. Totten to W. Frasier, January 21, 1841, Vol. 5, 52; J. G. Totten to J. R. Jones, Febr 11, 1842, Vol. 5, 134–35; E-146, RG-77, National Archives.

129. De Russy’s response to Secretary Conrad’s question about fortifications’ value in the steam era is indicative. De Russy filled the first fifth of his report with a pompous paean to fortifications, glorifying their “origin with the Greeks,” rendering them as a marker of civilization, and implicitly bragging about his own qualifications—highlighting how their construction required the “combination of sciences, involving mathematics, pyrotechny, strategy, and the art of war.” R. E. De Russy to J. G. Totten, July 26, 1851, 4:501.

130. Skelton, American Profession of Arms, 292–93; Angevine, Railroad and the State, 60–61.

131. J. G. Totten to W. H. Chase, April 10, 1841, Vol. 5, 80–81, E-146, RG-77, National Archives. Like Gaines, Major Chase regularly aired a republican skepticism of institutions that the military establishment—particularly his own Corps of Engineers—deemed sacrosanct. In February 1841, Chase sent a letter for Totten to forward to Senator Franklin Pierce—then a major opponent of the Corps-run West Point, who called it “an institution for educating, gratuitously, young gentlemen, who … return to the pursuits of civil life” after a free education. Nathaniel Hawthorne, Life of Franklin Pierce (New York: Garrett Press, 1852), 30; Life of Franklin Pierce (Trenton, NJ: Morris R. Hamilton, 1852), 28–35. Chase’s letter advocated cutting engineers’ pay and alleged “favoritism exists at our national school.” Totten, who spent much of the 1840s coordinating a defense of the Corps’s control over West Point, wrote Chase that his opinions differed “so fundamentally that [he] took the liberty of addressing the same gentleman with a few remarks thereon.” in passim, esp. J. G. Totten to W. H. Chase, February 17, 1841; J. G. Totten to F. Pierce, February 17, 1841; J. G. Totten to W. H. Chase, April 10, 1841, Vol. 5, 67–71, 80–81, E-146, RG-77, National Archives; Army and Navy Chronicle 10, no. 9 (February 27, 1840): 135–36.

132. W. H. Chase to C. M. Conrad, April 17, 1851, in Reports of Committees of the House of Representatives Made During the Second Session of the Thirty-Seventh Congress, 4:514. Totten responded to this affront by giving Chase a series of unattractive assignments that eventually succeeded in prompting his resignation.

133. E. P. Gaines to New Orleans City Leaders, November 24, 1838, quoted in Silver, Edmund P. Gaines, 227.

134. Samuel Watson has suggested that there was some truth to Gaines’s claim that the engineers’ commitment to fortifications shaded into an “unthinking application of European models to American realities.” Watson, “Knowledge, Interest and the Limits of Military Professionalism,” 302.

135. Even this limited goal lost much of its significance as federal and state governments retreated from railroad aid following the Panic of 1837. Though local governments picked up some of the slack, boosterism overtook military advantage as a motive.

136. Rather than flirting with a railroad-based defense like James Barbour and Lewis Cass, their successors like John C. Spencer denied these proposals out of hand. Spencer, John C., “Report of the Secretary of War,” quoted in Army and Navy Chronicle 12, no. 50 (December 16, 1841): 894 Google Scholar.

137. New York Herald, January 16, 1841, 2.

138. With America “destined to have a deadly struggle” with Britain, an indicative 1847 article in Hunt’s Merchants’ Magazine declared, the nation had a responsibility to prepare without “creating a great army and navy, which would eat out our substance and, perhaps, overturn our free government” or “fortifications which could not be properly manned without a large standing army, and which might be evaded by the foe.” Instead, the Toledo Blade’s Jesup Scott channeled Gaines to suggest America “Improve the organization of the militia; provide the materials of defence in safe arsenals; and, above all, make reliable your river and harbor accommodations, and your means of concentration, by a complete system of railroads. By these you increase wealth, instead of consuming it.” Jesup W. Scott, “A National System of Railroads,” Hunt’s Merchants’ Magazine 17, no. 6 (December 1847): 568. Predictably promoting a railroad across the Old South, De Bow’s Review cited Gaines and Colonel James Gadsden—an engineering officer turned railroad executive—to tout “the magical power of steam” that “gives us wings to our arms, and enables us … to realize the great problem of military success—‘Concentration of force and celerity of movement.’” “Southern Atlantic and Mississippi Railroad,” De Bow’s Review 1, no. 1 (January 1846): 22, 27–32. See also, Cincinnati Daily Chronicle quoted in American Railroad Journal 16 (March 1843): 66; Ward, Railroads and the Character of America, 12–55.

139. American Railroad Journal 5, no. 17 (April 30, 1846): 262.

140. C. M. Conrad to J. G. Totten, April 17, 1851, in Reports of Committees of the House of Representatives Made During the Second Session of the Thirty-Seventh Congress, 4:501.

141. They were so “easily impaired or destroyed that it would be dangerous to depend entirely upon their use.” R. E. De Russy to J. G. Totten, July 26, 1851, 4:503.

142. J. G. Totten to C. M. Conrad, November 1, 1851, 4:355.

143. Major Richard Delafield reimagined Gaines’s vision of an attack on America’s commercial capital with this lesson in mind: “The many thousands of uniformed militia that could … be concentrated by railroad and river steamers in New York,” Delafield declared, “could do positively nothing in arresting a hostile fleet from destroying the city.” Richard Delafield, “Report of Major R. Delafield,” in Reports of Committees of the House of Representatives Made During the Second Session of the Thirty-Seventh Congress, 4:515. See also, R. E. De Russy to J. G. Totten, July 26, 1851, 4:347–54; J. G. Totten to C. M. Conrad, November 1, 1851, 4:502.

144. Chase did not seek federal aid for the project, claiming that its effect on land values would effectively pay for the road. William H. Chase, Report of William H. Chase, Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, Made at the Rail Road Convention Held in the City of Montgomery, December 3, 1849 (Montgomery: Job Office of the Alabama Journal, 1849).

145. W. H. Chase to C. M. Conrad, April 17, 1851, 4:511–12.

146. Chase, William H., “The National Defences as connected with a System of Internal Improvements,” De Bow’s Review 14, no. 1 (January 1853): 5462 Google Scholar.

147. W. H. Chase to C. M. Conrad, April 17, 1851, 4:511.

148. New York Times, July 14, 1853, 1.

149. Even officers with decidedly different politics than Davis promoted the construction of a Pacific railroad after Davis’s realignment of the War Department’s priorities. They did, however, savage Davis’s politicking to promote a southern route. John C. Fremont, “Letter to the Editors,” Daily National Intelligencer, December 27, 1854; William T. Sherman, “Notes on the Pacific Railroad,” Daily National Intelligencer, January 18, 1859; Daily National Intelligencer, July 23 and 29, 1853; Mississippi Free Trader, August 9 and 16, 1853; Washington Review and Examiner, October 22, 1853; New York Tribune, January 27, 1858; Angevine, Railroad and the State, 110–29.

150. A political opponent once tarred Davis for his friendship with the controversial general, under whom he had served as a young lieutenant, received significant furlough time, and once been offered reprieve from a court martial. Davis later confirmed this connection by fighting in the Senate for a widowed Myra Clark Gaines’s army pension. Jefferson Davis to Edmund P. Gaines, October 3, 1832; “Special Order no. 1,” January 15, 1832; “Order no. 10,” March 15, 1835; “Proceedings of a Court of Inquiry,” January 27, 1837; “Notice of a Political Meeting,” September 22, 1845, in The Papers of Jefferson Davis, ed. M. Monroe Haskell and James T. McIntosh (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1971); Senate Journal, 31st Cong., 1st Sess., at 585.

151. New York Herald, January 22, 1856, 4; Jefferson Davis, Constitutionalist: His Letters, Papers and Speeches, ed. Dunbar Rowland (Jackson: Mississippi Dept. of Archives and History, 1922), 2:310–20, 2:330–32, 2:416–17, 2:565–70.

152. Indeed, Totten insisted that a transcontinental would increase the need to fortify Pacific harbors just as Davis offered a rationale for one—emphasizing the need for interior communications with America’s new outpost—that more closely resembled Totten’s arguments for a railroad to Pensacola than Gaines’s plan. Washington Union, July 20, 1853; J. G. Totten to C. M. Conrad, November 1, 1851, 4:349; Angevine, Railroad and the State, 127.

153. Considering popular internal-improvements projects’ defeat, Richard John has questioned whether it was “entirely a matter of chance” that proslavery southerners stripped the federal government’s administrative capacity shortly after Jackson’s 1828 presidential victory—an argument John Lauritz Larson joins. John, “Governmental Institutions as Agents of Change,” 380; Larson, Internal Improvement. At first glance, Poinsett’s efforts against the General Survey Act fit this suggestion of proslavery obstructionism. He had been one of the founders of the ultimately unsuccessful Louisville, Cincinnati, and Charleston Railroad—a road planned, in part, “to keep Ohio [the South’s] friend on the slave question.” Col. A. Blanding, Address to the Citizens in Charleston Convened in Town Meeting (Columbia, SC: A. S. Johnston, 1836), 7; Rippy, J. Fred, Poinsett, Joel R., Versatile American (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1935), 163–64Google Scholar. This agenda could conceivably have prompted Poinsett to oppose survey aid after witnessing northern railroads receive the bulk of it—much as John C. Calhoun turned against his early nationalism. Yet, southern partisans within the War Department—and other branches of government—leveraged federal power as enthusiastically in support of slavery as northerners did against it. Fehrenbacher, Don E. and McAfee, Ward M., The Slaveholding Republic: An Account of the United States Government’s Relations to Slavery (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001)Google Scholar; Ericson, David F., Slavery in the American Republic: Developing the Federal Government, 1791-1861 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2011)Google Scholar; Ericson, David F., “The United States Military, State Development, and Slavery in the Early Republic,” Studies in American Political Development 31, no. 1 (April 2017): 130–48Google Scholar.

154. Richard Delafield, Report on the Art of War in Europe (Washington: G. W. Bowman, 1861), 26; Browning, Two if by Sea, 51–53, 106–51; Clary, Fortress America, 46–47; 66–70, 98–123; Smith, Engineering Security, 124–25.

155. Daniel Carpenter and David A. Moss, “Introduction,” in Preventing Regulatory Capture, 21. See also, Croley, Regulation and Public Interests.