The Pacific Railroad Acts, the first of which President Abraham Lincoln signed on July 1st 1862,
designated Council Bluffs-Omaha as the point on the Missouri River to be the eastern terminus of the Union Pacific Railroad. Following established precedent, land grants were the means by which the dauntingly expensive infrastructure was to be financed. In fact, land grants became the means by which the first batch of Gilded Age robber barons made their fortune.
William J Palmer, the Quaker who built the Kansas Pacific railroad and inadvertently gave birth to the American cowboy, had recognised early on that the way to make big money in the USA was to gain the confidence of capitalists. To that end, he had convinced financiers in Philadelphia, New York and Great Britain that the best investment was in the American West. While building the Kansas Pacific, Palmer had learned the important lesson that “more capital could be collected from organizing land companies, laying out towns, and selling lots than from the railroad itself. That the towns might wither and die for lack of any economic base was of no concern … ” Herein lay the means by which Mercurius supplanted indigenous Trickster and manifested as the spirit destined to govern the whole nation.