Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Whitney, Asa (merchant)

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WHITNEY, Asa, merchant, b. in 1797; d. in Washington, D. C., in August, 1872. He was in mercantile business in New York city. He recognized the necessity of a railroad to the Pacific, was the first to suggest its feasibility, and from 1846 till 1850 urged it upon congress, the legislatures of several states, and the public, by personal influence and his writings. He was finally instrumental in securing appropriations in 1853 for the first surveys of the northern, southern, and middle routes, and lived to see communication opened from sea to sea in 1869. He was the author of “A Project for a Railroad to the Pacific” (New York, 1849), and “A Plan for a Direct Communication between the Great Centres of Populations of Europe and Asia” (London, 1851).