Mississippi and Atlantic Railroad

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The Mississippi and Atlantic Railroad Company was a railroad company incorporated in August 1850. Known also as the Atlantic and Mississippi and the Terre Haute and St. Louis, the company proposed to construct a railroad between Terre Haute, Indiana, and St. Louis, Missouri. John Brough, a railroad executive, was one of its staunchest advocates, prompting opponents of the line to label it derisively as "Brough's Road." Plans for a railroad between Terre Haute and St. Louis received strong support from citizens in Southern Illinois, but Chicagoans and other citizens in Central and Northern Illinois opposed it. Proponents of the road only succeeded in incorporating it after passage of the general railroad incorporation act in November 1849. Construction of the railroad in Illinois was delayed by several years because of significant opposition. Some Illinois citizens opposed the location of the proposed road, which, by going through Illinoistown instead of Alton, commercially benefited Missouri at the expense of Illinois. Opponents hired Abraham Lincoln and other attorneys to fight the company's charter. Lincoln and other attorneys challenged the company's charter in court, and the case reached the Illinois Supreme Court, which in June 1853, upheld a lower court ruling that the company's charter was legal under Illinois statute. On February 9, 1854, Illinois Governor Joel A. Matteson convened a special session of the Illinois General Assembly, and on February 23, the General Assembly passed a law recognizing the Mississippi and Atlantic as a valid corporation and authorizing the construction of the railroad. Opposition to the road, however, prevented supporters from completing it. The route was taken up again in 1865 by the St. Louis, Vandalia & Terre Haute Railroad Company.

“Mississippi and Atlantic Railroad,” Scientific American 5, No. 49 (24 August 1850): 385; “Map of the Bellefontaine and Indiana Railroad and connecting lines” (W. Milnor Roberts, Chief Engineer: 1852), http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.gmd/g3711p.rr003440, accessed 14 March 2022; Abraham Lincoln to Joseph Gillespie; John T. Stuart, Abraham Lincoln, and Benjamin S. Edwards to Robert Smith; American Railroad Journal. Steam Navigation, Commerce, Mining, Manufactures. 2nd Quarto ser., 10, No. 14 (8 April 1854): 212; Albert J. Churella, The Pennsylvania Railroad, Volume 1: Building an Empire, 1846-1917 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013), 279; "An Act to Provide for a General System of Railroad Incorporations," 5 November 1849, Laws of Illinois (1849), 18-33; "An Act Recognizing and Authorizing the Construction of the Mississippi and Atlantic Railroad,” 23 February 1854, Laws of Illinois (1854), 79-80; Railroad Record and Journal of Commerce, Banking, Manufacturers, and Statistics (Cincinnati, OH), 2 March 1854, 5:3; Illinois Daily Journal (Springfield), 19 April 1854, 3:4; American Railroad Journal. Steam Navigation, Commerce, Mining, Manufactures. 2nd Quarto ser., 21, No. 21 (27 May 1865): 491; People of the State of Illinois, on the Relation of Eldredge S. Janney, Appellants, v. The Mississippi and Atlantic Railroad Company, Appellees, 14 Ill. (Peck), 440-46.