Drew Baird | 2024 I.S. Symposium

Drew Baird head shot

Name: Drew Baird
Title: A Power in the Land: The First Transcontinental Railroad and the Second American System
Major: History
Minors: Political Science; English
Advisor: Jeff Roche; Second Reader: Ibra Sene

This Senior Independent Study examines how railroad men built the first transcontinental railroad by redefining political relationships between the state and private corporations. The project builds on the work of other historians by arguing that railroad companies constructed the railroad within the context of a second American system of economic development. Personal accounts, railway papers, and congressional testimony demonstrate that politicians, financiers, and engineers utilized political power to manifest new networks of wealth. Private businessmen fulfilled their personal ambitions in service of a public project funded by federal bonds and land grants. The state and railroad companies subsidized, occupied, and reorganized public lands as workers built the railroad across the Great Plains. As part of national reconstruction in the West, railroad men formed a political system that determined the nature of westward expansion and laid the tracks for a continental empire.

Link to Drew’s Google Map Resource

Posted in Symposium 2024 on April 19, 2024.

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The study of power, with concentrations in U.S. politics, international relations, political theory and comparative politics.

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