Durant, Thomas Clark

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Durant, Thomas Clark

Thomas Clark Durant, 1820–85, American railroad builder, chief figure in the construction of the Union Pacific RR, b. Lee, Mass. He was successful in building railroads in the Midwest, and, after the Union Pacific was organized (1862) by an act of Congress, John A. Dix was elected president and Durant vice president of the company. The burden of management and money raising was assumed by Durant, and, with much money at his disposal, he helped to secure in 1864 the passage of a bill that increased the land grants and privileges of the railroad. He organized and at first controlled the Crédit Mobilier of America, but later (1867) he lost control of the company to Oakes Ames and his brother. Durant, however, continued on the directorate of the Union Pacific and furiously pushed construction of the railroad until it met the Central Pacific RR on May 10, 1869. The Ames group then procured his discharge.

See biography by H. K. Hochschild (1961).

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