The New International Encyclopædia/Crédit Mobilier of America
CRÉDIT MOBILIER OF AMERICA. A joint-stock company, whose alleged corrupt operations in connection with the building of the Union Pacific Railroad gave rise, in 1872-73, to the greatest Congressional scandal in American history. The company was chartered as the ‘Pennsylvania Fiscal Agency,’ in 1859, was organized for a general loan and contract business in 1863, and was reorganized under the above name in 1867, for the purpose of building the Union Pacific. This work, completed in 1869, was paid for largely in stock and bonds of the Union Pacific, so that the stockholders of the two companies soon came to be identical. The Mobilier stock, at first almost worthless, soon began to pay enormous dividends; suspicions were aroused; and in the Presidential campaign of 1872 the company was charged with gross dishonesty, and many prominent Republicans, including the Vice-President, the Speaker of the House, three Senators, and a number of well-known Representatives, were freely accused by the Democratic press of having been bribed in 1867-71 to use their influence and votes in favor of the Union Pacific, the alleged bribes having consisted of the sale of Mobilier stock to the accused at prices below its actual value. A prolonged investigation, conducted in 1872-73 by special committees in both the Senate and the House, resulted in a recommendation of the expulsion of one Senator, upon which, however, no action was taken, and the censure of two Representatives, Oakes Ames, of Massachusetts, and James Brooks, of New York, respectively for having sold Crédit Mobilier stock to members of Congress ‘with intent to influence the votes of such members,’ and for having, indirectly, received such stock. The scandal caused intense excitement throughout the country, and the Mobilier Company met with almost universal execration; but subsequent investigation has shown that the charges were greatly exaggerated, and were at least never conclusively proved. Consult: Crawford, The Crédit Mobilier of America, Its Origin and History (Boston, 1880); and Hazard, The Crédit Mobilier of America (Providence, 1881), the latter being a paper read before the Rhode Island Historical Society in February, 1881.