COLLIS HUNTINGTON'S CONGRESSIONAL TESTIMONY, 1887

Questions to consider:

  1. What is the point of the Congressman's questions to Collis Huntington?
  2. How would you characterize Huntington's attitude as he responds?

Q.   As a matter of fact, has not the Central Pacific Company frequently had legal assistance both from members of Congress and from members of the State and Territorial legislatures?

A.   I know very little of what has been done west of the Missouri River.

Q.   Then we will confine ourselves to what you know.

A.   I do not think there would be any objection to employing a man to attend to a case in court because he was a member of the Senate or the House.

Q.   Even though, at the time, there was a measure pending before the legislature in which the Central Pacific Company had a large pecuniary interest?

A.   I should have no hesitation in employing the best man I could find, whether he was a member of Congress or not....I always like to get the best men to do any particular thing that I have to do....

Q.   Do I understand the testimony heretofore given by you correctly - that the larger portion of the funds which appear on the vouchers over your signature were applied to legal expenses and expended through payments by you...for the purpose of explaining these matters to Congress?

A.   I would not be prepared to say that a majority was.  We had many things to do.  We had a great many things in the Department to attend to....

Q.   Without limiting you to members of Congress, my question is whether the unexplained vouchers were for expenditures, the majority of which were incurred for the purposes such as you have detailed?

A.   I could not divide and subdivide them at this distance of time from other transactions; but I have no doubt that they were paid out for legal and proper purposes, such as would be sanctioned by the strictest rules of morality....Most of the money was expended no doubt to prevent Congress and the Departments from robbing us of our property....

    ...I will explain what the difference is between having the Central Pacific road built so that a whole army can be transported comfortably across the continent in six days, and the condition of things before the road was built...We went to work and built the road, and the Government said it would give us so much if we built it.  We complied in every particular with the contract, and because some light-weight, narrow-minded politician thought he could make something by maligning us, he went upon the house-top and cried aloud....I spent twenty-five of the best years of my life in building the road across the high, dry, arid plains of the continent, and am abused for it by a portion of the press and by light-weight politicians who know little and care less about what we have done for the country.