Huntington, Collis Potter, 1821-1900

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Collis P. Huntington was President of the Southern Pacific Railroad at the time this letter was written (1892). He tells his Fresno District Superintendent, James L. Frazier, that he is glad the latter's family is comfortably situated in the Pollaskey house, Fresno.

From the description of Huntington correspondence, 1892. (University of the Pacific). WorldCat record id: 36847465

Financier and railroad executive.

From the description of Papers of Collis Potter Huntington, 1797-1901. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 71070495

Collis P. Huntington was born on October 22, 1821, in Harwinton, Connecticut, the sixth of nine children of Elizabeth and William Huntington. After a brief and perfunctory education, he was apprenticed at age fourteen to a neighboring farmer and the following year to a local grocer. Between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one, he was an itinerant note collector in the South.

In 1842, Huntington purchased a partnership in his brother's hardware store in Oneonta, New York. It was here that he married Elizabeth Stoddard in 1844. In 1849, he went to California by way of Panama with a group of Oneontans. He entered the hardware business in Sacramento, and by 1855 was joined by Mark Hopkins in the hardware firm of Huntington & Hopkins, one of the largest of its kind on the West Coast. This partnership lasted until 1867.

With Mark Hopkins, Charles Crocker, a dealer in dry goods, and Leland Stanford, a grocer, Huntington was one of the founders of California's Republican Party. He worked for the admission of California as a free state in 1850, and later supported Abraham Lincoln for president.

A Railroad Tycoon

Huntington's railroad career began in 1861 when he, Mark Hopkins, Leland Stanford, Charles Crocker and others formed the Central Pacific Railroad Company. In 1862 the company received a loan from the Federal government to build the western end of the first transcontinental railroad. A further incentive was provided in 1864 when Congress promised to give the company 12,800 acres of adjoining Federal lands for each mile of track laid; the Central Pacific received some 9,497,600 acres. Finally in May, 1869, the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific connected in Utah and the first transcontinental railroad was completed.

In December, 1862, Huntington moved to New York City to serve as financier, purchasing agent, legal adviser, and Washington lobbyist for the Central Pacific. As soon as the transcontinental line was completed, Huntington began to purchase twenty-three separate railroad companies in California. Although he thought of selling his Central Pacific stock in 1871, he was already far too involved in building and acquiring transportation systems to quit the field. The financial panic of 1873 put him under great financial strain, but neither he nor the Central Pacific defaulted on their loans.

In the late 1870's Huntington was instrumental in financing and building the Southern Pacific system. Completed in 1883, the Southern Pacific ran from California to New Orleans. Eventually the Central Pacific and Southern Pacific systems were consolidated into one transcontinental railroad company with 9,000 miles of tracks and 16,000 miles of water transportation systems. Huntington succeeded Leland Stanford as president of the Southern Pacific Company in 1890. In 1892, Henry E. Huntington, Collis' nephew, became vice-president of the company and increasingly carried on his uncle's business enterprises.

During the building of the Southern Pacific, Huntington also served as president and director of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad Company. When this company was sold at a foreclosure sale in 1878, Huntington purchased the road and continued to manage it until 1888 when he sold his shares and the company was reorganized. The eastern terminus of the Chesapeake & Ohio was Newport News, Virginia, where Huntington later established the Chesapeake Dry Dock & Construction Company. The western terminus of the road was Huntington, West Virginia. Both of these cities, built under the supervision of Huntington, were built on property owned by land companies controlled by Huntington.

A Baron of Finance and Political Lobbying

Huntington's financial interests in railroads, steamship companies, land companies, as well as many manufacturing and construction companies, made him an extremely powerful financial figure. His influence an Congress was considerable. As such, during his thirty-nine years as a railroad financier and builder, Huntington faced opposition from both Congress and the press. In 1887, for instance, the Interstate Commerce Commission outlawed rebates, while the United States Pacific Railway Commission was investigating to determine whether Leland Stanford and Huntington had used bribery with Congressmen to obtain favorable railroad legislation. These charges were never proved. Huntington was such an adroit lobbyist that he could obtain preferential legislation at the same time as he was being investigated by Congress.

Philanthropic Activities

Philanthropy is an aspect of Huntington's life which is little known. He established the Huntington Industrial Works at Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, of which he was a trustee. He financially aided Booker T. Washington's Tuskegee Institute. Huntington was an avid book collector and connoisseur of fine art. His art collection was given to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His fortune went into the founding of such institutions as the Henry E. Huntington Library, the Hispanic Society of America, and the Mariners' Museum.

Family History

In September, 1844, Huntington married Elizabeth Stoddard. Having no children of their own, they adopted Mrs. Huntington's niece, Clara Prentice, later the Princess Clara von Hatzveldt. Elizabeth Huntington died in 1883 and in 1884 Huntington married Mrs. Arabella Duval Yarrington Worsham and adopted her son, Archer Milton. Collis P. Huntington died suddenly on August 13, 1900, at the age of seventy-nine. Arabella Huntington later married her late husband's nephew, Henry E. Huntington, and died in New York on September 16, 1924.

From the guide to the Collis Potter Huntington Papers, 1797-1904, (Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Ward, George Clinton. Papers of George Clinton Ward, 1847-1948 (bulk 1927-1936). Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn Levi P. Morton Correspondence, 1860-1912 Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries
referencedIn Patton Family Papers, 1856-1934 The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens Manuscripts Department
creatorOf Feder, Ray S. Ray S. Feder autograph collection. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Stanford, Leland, 1824-1893. Leland Stanford papers, 1840-1896. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn William Alvord Papers, 1833-1904, 1833-1904 The Society of California Pioneers.
creatorOf Huntington, Collis Potter, 1821-1900. C.P. Huntington letters to Samuel P. Avery, 1897. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas J. Watson Library
referencedIn Hardy, Grahame H. Grahame Hardy Collection, 1849-1909. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
creatorOf Osborne, Henry Zenas, 1848-1923. Papers of Henry Z. Osborne, 1878-1924. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
creatorOf Huntington, Collis Potter, 1821-1900. Letters to William W. Beadles [manuscript], 1842-1847. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Pacific Improvement Company. Records, 1869-1931 (bulk 1883-1927). Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Shorb, James De Barth. Papers of James De Barth Shorb, 1794-1957 (bulk) 1870-1910. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn Jordan, David Starr, 1851-1931. David Starr Jordan papers, 1861-1964. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Bicknell, John Dustin, 1838-1911. Papers of John Dustin Bicknell, 1872-1914 (bulk 1887-1897). Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn St. John, Isaac Munroe, 1827-1880. Isaac Munroe St. John papers, 1850-1879 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Santa Fe Railroad Collection RG D 004., 1897-1968 Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library,
referencedIn Huntington Estate Papers, 1955-1976 Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries
referencedIn Gallatin, Albert, 1835-. Dictations and biographical sketches relating to Albert Gallatin : giving details of his association with Huntington, Hopkins & Company / recorded by George H. Morrison and George T. Ruddock. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Houston, J. B. Papers of J. B. Houston, 1881-1899. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn Morton, Bliss & Company. Records, 1876-1899. New-York Historical Society
referencedIn Keith, William, 1838-1911. [Collis P. Huntington in the studio of William Keith] [graphic]. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Huntington, Collis Potter, 1821-1900. The Collis P. Huntington papers, 1856-1901. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Belknap, William W. (William Worth), 1829-1890. Letters, 1869-1887. University of Iowa Libraries
referencedIn Hyde, William Birelie, 1842-1882. William Birelie Hyde papers, 1861-1896. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Patton, George S. (George Smith), 1856-1927. Patton family papers, 1856-1934. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn Thomas Bailey Aldrich papers, 1837-1926. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Hauser, Samuel Thomas, 1833-1914. Letters, 1873-1891. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Stephen Johnson Field Letters Addressed to Him, 1862-1896 Bancroft Library
referencedIn Hopkins, Timothy, 1859-1937,. Timothy Hopkins transportation collection, 1816-1942. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Charles Sumner correspondence, 1829-1874. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Frazier, James Lewis. Correspondence between James L. Frazier and Collis P. Huntington, 1894, August. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn Dillon, Sidney, 1812-1892. Letter to Edward Henry Rollins, 1874 Dec. 5. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn Henry Villard papers, 1604-1948 (inclusive), 1863-1900 (bulk). Houghton Library.
referencedIn Isaac Munroe St. John papers, 1850-1879 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn William J. Arkell Collection, 1881-1894 Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries
creatorOf Daggett, Stuart, 1881-1954. California railroad notes, [ca. 1850-1932]. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Huntington, Collis Potter, 1821-1900. Huntington, Collis Potter, papers, 1891, 1898. University of Texas Libraries, University of Texas Libraries
creatorOf Powell, John Wesley, 1834-1902. Correspondence of John Wesley Powell, 1876-1902. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
creatorOf Huntington, Collis Potter, 1821-1900. [Last will and testament written on 1897, March 13, New York] / C.P. Huntington. California State University, Sacramento
creatorOf Wells, Fargo & Company. Records of Wells, Fargo & Company, 1839-1911 (bulk 1883-1906). Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn Miscellaneous theatrical papers, 1673-1976. Houghton Library.
referencedIn "The Real West: Empire Builders" [videorecording], 1993 Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Miller, Edward H. Notes regarding Mark Hopkins : and related material, 1878-[ca. 1888]. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Huntington, Collis Potter, 1821-1900. Letter, 1897 June 11, New York, to George H. Milne [Chicago, Ill.] / C.P. Huntington. California State University, Sacramento
referencedIn Santa Fe Railroad Collection RG D 004., 1897-1968 Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library,
creatorOf Huntington, Collis Potter, 1821-1900. Papers of Collis Potter Huntington, 1797-1901. Library of Congress
creatorOf Huntington, Arabella Duval, 1850 or 51-1924. Arabella Duval Huntington papers, 1888-1925. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Hopkins, Mark, 1813-1878. Mark Hopkins papers, 1861-1878. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Crank, James Filmore, b. 1842. Papers of James Filmore Crank, 1880-1902. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
creatorOf Collis Potter Huntington Papers, 1797-1904 Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries
referencedIn Taber, I. W. (Isaiah West), 1830-1912. Mr. C.P. Huntington's reception : Palace Hotel, San Francisco : albumen print, 1888 May 1. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Tasheira, Lewis, 1845-. Lewis Tasheira's history : typescript copy, 1920 Dec. 13. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Company. Correspondence, 1869-1874. Western Reserve Historical Society, Research Library
referencedIn Pacific Improvement Company. Pacific Improvement Company records, 1901-1966. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Huntington, Henry Edwards, 1850-1927. Papers of Henry Edwards Huntington, 1794-1970 (bulk 1840-1927). Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
creatorOf Long, Oscar Fitzalan, 1852-1928. Papers of Oscar Fitzalan Long, 1874-1941. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn Plumb, Edward Lee, 1827-1912. Edward Lee Plumb papers, 1856-1912. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Bierce, Ambrose, 1842-1914?. Ambrose Bierce papers, 1872-1913. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Egl, Anthony. Anthony Egl et als., plaintiffs, vs. The Central Pacific Railroad Company, defendants. Complaint. In the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District of the State of California, in and for the City and County of San Francisco : published pamphlet, 1876. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Lewis, Oscar, 1893-1992. Men against mountains / by Oscar Lewis. Washington State University, Holland and Terrell Libraries
referencedIn Stephen Johnson Field Letters Addressed to Him, 1862-1896 Bancroft Library
referencedIn Fisk family. Papers, 1883-1901. Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn Monterey Public Library. California History Room. Biography clippings : "H" [surname] folder 1895-2005. Monterey Public Library
creatorOf Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company. Records : of the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, ca. 1886-1961. The Mariners' Museum Library
referencedIn Holladay, Margaret Huntington. Papers of Margaret Huntington Holladay, ca.1821-1969 (bulk 1900-1969) Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
creatorOf California. Superior Court (Sonoma County). Case 905 : Ellen M. Colton vs. Leland Stanford, C.P. Huntington, Charles Crocker and Wells, Fargo & Co., 1883-1885. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Huntington, Collis Potter, 1821-1900. Huntington correspondence, 1892. University of the Pacific, William Knox Holt Memorial Library
referencedIn David Starr Jordan papers, 1861-1964 Cecil H. Green Library. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Huntington, Collis Potter, 1821-1900. Letter to S.P. Avery : New York : TLS, 1897 June 17. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn William West Durant, 1850-1936. William West Durant collection, 1859-1968. New York State Historical Documents
referencedIn Huntington Family File, 1737-1898 The Huntington Library
referencedIn Green, Norvin, 1818-1893. Norvin Green Papers, 1802-1892. The Filson Historical Society
creatorOf Huntington, Collis Potter, 1821-1900. Collis Potter Huntington biographical material for H.H. Bancroft's Chronicles of the Builders of the Commonwealth, 1887-1890. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Huntington, Collis Potter, 1821-1900. [Letters from 1849, March 14 to 1876, March 31 to Solon Huntington] / C.P. Huntington. California State University, Sacramento
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
correspondedWith Aldrich, Thomas Bailey, 1836-1907 person
associatedWith Ames, Oakes, 1804-1873 person
associatedWith Anthony, Susan B. (Susan Brownell), 1820-1906 person
associatedWith Arkell, W. J. (William J.), 1856-1930 person
associatedWith Armstrong, S. C. (Samuel Chapman), 1839-1893. person
correspondedWith Avery, Samuel Putnam, 1822-1904 person
associatedWith Axtell, Samuel B. (Samuel Beach), 1819-1891 person
associatedWith Bancroft, Hubert Howe, 1832-1918. person
associatedWith Belknap, William W. (William Worth), 1829-1890. person
associatedWith Bicknell, John Dustin, 1838-1911. person
associatedWith Bierce, Ambrose, 1842-1914? person
associatedWith Blaine, James Gillespie, 1830-1893 person
associatedWith Bonn, William B. person
associatedWith Boruck, Marcus D. (Marcus Derckheim), 1833 or 4-1895. person
associatedWith Boyd, John. person
associatedWith California. Superior Court (Sonoma County) corporateBody
associatedWith Central Pacific Railroad Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Cesnola, Luigi Palma di, 1832-1904 person
associatedWith Chandler, William E. (William Eaton), 1835-1917 person
associatedWith Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Colton, David Douty, 1832-1878. person
associatedWith Conness, John. person
associatedWith Cracker, Charles, 1822-1888. person
associatedWith Crank, James Filmore, b. 1842. person
associatedWith Crocker, Charles, 1822-1888 person
associatedWith Crocker, Charles F. person
associatedWith Crocker, Edwin Bryant, 1818-1875. person
associatedWith Daggett, Stuart, 1881-1954. person
associatedWith Dillon, Sidney, 1812-1892. person
associatedWith Downs, George C. person
associatedWith Downs, George E. person
associatedWith Echols, John. person
associatedWith Egl, Anthony. person
associatedWith Feder, Ray S. person
correspondedWith Field, Stephen Johnson, 1816-1899 person
associatedWith Fisk family. family
associatedWith Flagg, John Henry, 1843-1911 person
associatedWith Fox, Francis W. person
associatedWith Franchot, Richard. person
associatedWith Frazier, James Lewis. person
associatedWith Gallatin, Albert, 1835- person
associatedWith Gates, Isaac Edwin. person
associatedWith Gibbs, C. C. person
associatedWith Gilman, F. N. person
associatedWith Gorham, George Congdon, 1832-1909 person
associatedWith Gould, Jay, 1836-1892 person
associatedWith Grant, Ulysses S. (Ulysses Simpson), 1822-1885 person
correspondedWith Green, Norvin, 1818-1893. person
associatedWith Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (Va.) corporateBody
associatedWith Hardy, Grahame H. person
associatedWith Hauser, Samuel Thomas, 1833-1914. person
associatedWith Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery. corporateBody
associatedWith Holladay, Margaret Huntington. person
associatedWith Hopkins, Mark, 1813-1878. person
associatedWith Hopkins, Timothy, 1859-1937, person
associatedWith Houston, J. B. person
associatedWith Houston & Texas Central Railway Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Huntington family
associatedWith Huntington, Arabella Duval, 1850 or 51-1924. person
associatedWith Huntington family family
associatedWith Huntington, Henry Edwards, 1850-1927. person
correspondedWith Huntington, Solon person
associatedWith Hyde, William Birelie, 1842-1882. person
associatedWith Jordan, David Starr, 1851-1931. person
associatedWith Judah, Anna Pierce, 1828-1895 person
associatedWith Keith, William, 1838-1911. person
associatedWith Lewis, Oscar, 1893-1992. person
associatedWith Long, Oscar Fitzalan, 1852-1928. person
associatedWith Miller, Edward H. person
associatedWith Miller, Edwin H. person
associatedWith Mills, William H. person
correspondedWith Milne, George H. person
associatedWith Monterey Public Library. California History Room. corporateBody
associatedWith Morton, Bliss & Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Morton, Levi P. (Levi Parsons), 1824-1920 person
associatedWith Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Osborne, Henry Zenas, 1848-1923 person
associatedWith Pacific Improvement Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Patton, George S. (George Smith), 1856-1927. person
associatedWith Plumb, Edward Lee, 1827-1912. person
associatedWith Powell, John Wesley, 1834-1902. person
associatedWith Prince, L. Bradford (Le Baron Bradford), 1840-1922 person
associatedWith Santa Fe Railroad corporateBody
associatedWith Santa Fe Railroad corporateBody
associatedWith Sargent, A. A. (Aaron Augustus), 1827-1887 person
associatedWith Sessions, David R. person
associatedWith Sherrill, Charles H. person
associatedWith Shorb, James De Barth. person
associatedWith Smith, E. O. person
associatedWith Southern Pacific Railroad Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Stanford, Jane Lathrop, 1828-1905 person
associatedWith Stanford, Leland, 1824-1893. person
associatedWith Stewart, William M. (William Morris), 1827-1909 person
associatedWith St. John, Isaac Munroe, 1827-1880. person
associatedWith Storrs, James. person
associatedWith Strong, William B. person
correspondedWith Sumner, Charles, 1811-1874 person
associatedWith Taber, I. W. (Isaiah West), 1830-1912. person
associatedWith Tasheira, Lewis, 1845- person
associatedWith Towne, Alban Nelson, 1829- person
associatedWith United States., Interstate Commerce Commission. corporateBody
correspondedWith Villard, Henry, 1835-1900 person
associatedWith Ward, George Clinton. person
associatedWith Washington, Booker T., 1856-1915 person
associatedWith Wells, Fargo & Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Wickham, Williams Carter, 1820-1888 person
associatedWith Williams, George Washington, 1849-1891 person
associatedWith William West Durant, 1850-1936. person
associatedWith Woodward, J. H. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
California
California
San Francisco (Calif.)
California
California
United States
Panama, Isthmus of (Panama)
California
United States, History, 1865-1898.
Fresno (Calif.)
United States, Politics and government, 19th century.
United States, Social life and customs, 19th century.
Sacramento (Calif.)
Nacogdoches (Tex.)
Subject
Business and industry
Capitalists and financiers--United States
Upper class--United States
Railroads
Will--Huntington, Collis Potter, 1821-1900
Railroad law--United States
Railroads--Freight--Rates
Railroads--United States
Ciphers
Railroads and state--United States
Philanthropists--United States
Entrepreneurship
California History--1850-1950
Palaces, United States
Voyages to the Pacific coast
Railroads--California
Railroads--History
Occupation
Philanthropists
Capitalists and financiers
Entrepreneurs
Function
Transportation., lcsh

Person

Birth 1821-10-22

Death 1900-08-13

Information

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