McComb, Henry S., 1825-1881

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Leather merchant and railroad promoter.

Henry S. McComb was born in Wilmington, Del. on July 28, 1825. His father died when he was still a young boy, and Henry was forced to go to work to help support the family. Until age eighteen he was apprenticed to a currier, Wilmington being a center of the leather industry. McComb excelled at business and was able to buy out his employer. By age twenty-five he was one of the leading citizens of Wilmington, and by thirty he was a leading factor in the leather industry.

McComb greatly increased his fortune and his influence during the Civil War, becoming one of the largest military contractors, providing tents, knapsacks and other gear along with leather goods. He established close contacts with Lincoln, Edwin M. Stanton and other leaders of the war effort, both civil and military. He raised and equipped at his own expense, the Fifth Delaware Regiment, of which he was colonel.

Through his military and political connections, McComb was drawn into the Union Pacific Railroad project, and he was a member of the infamous Crèdit Mobilier, the insiders' ring that acted as construction company to the Union Pacific. It was McComb's dissatisfaction with the division of the spoils that brought the workings of the Crèdit Mobilier into the open, creating one of the great scandals of the Grant Administration.

After the war McComb became a carpetbag operator in broken-down southern railroads. He acquired the Mississippi Central between 1865 and 1868 and expanded it into a trunk line running from Cairo, Ill., to New Orleans. He developed the town of McComb, Miss. in connection with this project and was for a while the president of the Southern Railroad Association. However, McComb remained a relatively small-time operator in the railroad world, an industry already dominated by large trunk lines and Wall Street empire builders. All of his southern railroad ventures collapsed in the wake of the Panic of 1873 and were absorbed by larger systems.

In 1880 McComb purchased a small Wilmington railroad, the Delaware Western, and promoted it as a link in a possible second line between Philadelphia and Baltimore. That territory was then a theater of a complex, many-sided contest involving the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Baltimore & Ohio and the Gould and Vanderbilt interests. For a while McComb was at the center of this intrigue, but it was his last speculation. He died on December 30, 1881.

From the description of Accounts with U.S. government re sale of leather, 1856. (Hagley Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 741941437

Leather merchant and railroad promoter.

Henry S. McComb was born in Wilmington, Del. on July 28, 1825. His father died when he was still a young boy, and Henry was forced to go to work to help support the family. Until age eighteen he was apprenticed to a currier, Wilmington being a center of the leather industry. McComb excelled at business and was able to buy out his employer. By age twenty-five he was one of the leading citizens of Wilmington, and by thirty he was a leading factor in the leather industry.

McComb greatly increased his fortune and his influence during the Civil War, becoming one of the largest military contractors, providing tents, knapsacks and other gear along with leather goods. He established close contacts with Lincoln, Edwin M. Stanton and other leaders of the war effort, both civil and military. He raised and equipped at his own expense, the Fifth Delaware Regiment, of which he was colonel.

Through his military and political connections, McComb was drawn into the Union Pacific Railroad project, and he was a member of the infamous Crédit Mobilier, the insiders' ring that acted as construction company to the Union Pacific. It was McComb's dissatisfaction with the division of the spoils that brought the workings of the Crédit Mobilier into the open, creating one of the great scandals of the Grant Administration.

After the war McComb became a carpetbag operator in broken-down southern railroads. He acquired the Mississippi Central between 1865 and 1868 and expanded it into a trunk line running from Cairo, Ill., to New Orleans. He developed the town of McComb, Miss. in connection with this project and was for a while the president of the Southern Railroad Association. However, McComb remained a relatively small-time operator in the railroad world, an industry already dominated by large trunk lines and Wall Street empire builders. All of his southern railroad ventures collapsed in the wake of the Panic of 1873 and were absorbed by larger systems.

In 1880 McComb purchased a small Wilmington railroad, the Delaware Western, and promoted it as a link in a possible second line between Philadelphia and Baltimore. That territory was then a theater of a complex, many-sided contest involving the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Baltimore & Ohio and the Gould and Vanderbilt interests. For a while McComb was at the center of this intrigue, but it was his last speculation. He died on December 30, 1881.

From the description of Papers, 1856-1889. (Hagley Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 122292277

Leather merchant and railroad promoter.

For a biographical sketch of H. S. McComb, see Henry S. McComb papers, Hagley Accession 0474.

From the description of Diary, 1880 [microform]. (Hagley Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 650279270

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Alexandria, Loudoun and Hampshire Rail Road Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Ames, Oakes, 1804-1873. person
associatedWith Ames, Oliver, 1807-1877. person
associatedWith Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Bardwell, Josiah, 1828-1875. person
associatedWith Bates, Benjamin E., d. 1878. person
associatedWith Betts & Seal. corporateBody
associatedWith Black, Jeremiah S. (Jeremiah Sullivan), 1810-1883. person
associatedWith Bullitt, John C. (John Christian), 1824-1902. person
associatedWith Bush, Charles, 1805-1855. person
associatedWith Cambria Iron Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Cannon family. family
associatedWith Cisco, John J. person
associatedWith Crédit Foncier of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Crédit Mobilier of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Delaware Western Railroad Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Dillon, Sidney, 1812-1892. person
associatedWith Dodge, Grenville Mellen, 1831-1916. person
associatedWith Drexel, Anthony J. (Anthony Joseph), 1826-1893. person
associatedWith Dubuque and Iowa City Railroad Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Du Pont, Charles I. (Charles Irénée), 1797-1869. person
associatedWith Du Pont, H. A. (Henry Algernon), 1838-1926. person
associatedWith Du Pont, Lammot, 1831-1884. person
associatedWith Durant, Thomas Clark, 1820-1885. person
associatedWith Eastern Shore Rail Road Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Elmira and Williamsport Railroad Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Garrett, Robert, 1847-1896. person
associatedWith Gowen, Franklin B. (Franklin Benjamin), 1836-1889. person
associatedWith Grimes, James W. (James Wilson), 1816-1872. person
associatedWith Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Leonard, Levi O., 1854-1942. person
associatedWith McCormick, Cyrus Hall, 1809-1884. person
associatedWith Mississippi Central Railroad Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Mobile and Ohio Railroad Company. corporateBody
associatedWith New Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern Railroad Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Northern Pacific Railroad Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Pennsylvania Fiscal Agency. corporateBody
associatedWith Pennsylvania Railroad Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Philadelphia & Reading Railroad Co. corporateBody
associatedWith Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Rail Road Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Roberts, George Brooke, 1833-1897. person
associatedWith Rogers, Jacob S., 1823?-1901. person
associatedWith Scott, Thomas Alexander, 1823-1881. person
associatedWith Southern Railroad Association. corporateBody
associatedWith Union Pacific Railroad Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Vanderbilt, William H. (William Henry), 1821-1885. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Delaware
Delaware
Subject
Leather industry and trade
Railroads--Finance
Railroads
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1825-07-28

Death 1881-12-30

Information

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