Bonds of Enterprise: John Murray Forbes and Western Development in America's Railway Age
by John Lauritz Larson
University of Iowa Press, 2001
eISBN: 978-1-60938-000-7 | Paper: 978-0-87745-764-0
Library of Congress Classification HE2754.F7L37 2001
Dewey Decimal Classification 385.092

Bonds of Enterprise uses the life of railroad entrepreneur John Murray Forbes to explore the shift from antebellum merchant capitalism to late ninetieth-century corporate capitalism, the rise of big business, technological innovations, farmer agitation for railroad rate control, and the process of government regulations. Forbes started off his business life as a China trader in the 1830s, returned to the States in time to surmount the Panic of 1837, and then—deciding that railroad construction should be based on existing settlement and traffic systems rather than speculative ambitions—became a master builder, beginning with the Michigan Central Railroad and ending with the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy system and the growth of Chicago as a railroad hub. Focusing on Forbes’s life allows Larson to elaborate on the contest of wills between eastern capitalists and Midwestern boosters and the complex patterns of regional growth, particularly in Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, and Nebraska.

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