Historical records matching George Francis Train
About George Francis Train
George Francis Train (March 24, 1829 – January 5, 1904) was a businessman, author, and an eccentric figure in American history.
Train's trip around the globe in 1870 was probably the inspiration for Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days, and its protagonist Phileas Fogg. In 1861 Train was arrested and tried for "breaking and injuring" a London street. He stood for the position of Dictator of the United States, charged admission fees to his campaign rallies and drew record crowds.
The following is from "Publisher's Weekly, Weekly Record of Publications (1902)": (published prior to Train's death in 1904)
"The story of a remarkable and adventurous life. Mr. Train was at one time one of the best known Americans on the face of the globe. He organized the clipper ship line that sailed around Cape Horn to San Francisco; he organized the Credit Mobilier and the Union Pacific Railroad; he was one of the organizers of the French Commune; he built the first street-railway in England; he has been the business partner of queens, emperors, and grand dukes, and the familiar friend of some of the greatest people in the world. His story up to the present is one long romance."
Train promoted the great Union Pacific Railroad which he had been involved with for several years. Forming a finance company called Credit Foncier of America, Train made a fortune from real estate when the great railway running from coast to coast opened up huge swathes of western America, including large amounts of land in Omaha, Council Bluffs, Iowa and Columbus, Nebraska. He was responsible for building the Cozzens Hotel and founding Train Town in pioneer Omaha.
Along with Credit Foncier, Train's most famous creation was Credit Mobilier, which he started specifically to sell construction supplies for the Union Pacific. That venture was torn asunder by scandals that rocked the nation. According to author Richard White, Credit Mobilier drew in "dozens of congressmen, a secretary of the treasury, two vice-presidents, a leading presidental contender, and an eventual president. It caused a scandel that remained an issue in four presidental elections".
Train ran for President of the United States of America as an independent candidate in 1872. He was a staunch supporter of the temperance movement, and was jailed on obscenity charges while defending Victoria Woodhull. He was the primary financier of the newspaper The Revolution, which was dedicated to women's rights, and published by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
On his death in 1904, The Thirteen Club, of which he was a member, passed a resolution that he was one of the few sane men in "a mad, mad world."
Train was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1829. At the age of four he was orphaned in New Orleans after a yellow fever plague killed his family. He was raised by his strict Methodist grandparents in Boston, who hoped he would become a minister.
Throughout his life, Train was engaged in the mercantile business in Boston and in Australia, then went to England in 1860 and undertook to form horse tramway companies in Birkenhead and London where he soon met opposition. Although his trams were popular with passengers, his designs had rails that stood above the road surface and obstructed other traffic. In 1861 Train was arrested and tried for "breaking and injuring" a London street.
Train was involved in the formation of the Union Pacific Railroad during the civil war but left for England in 1864 after having helped others set up the Credit Mobilier company, (See below)
Referring to himself as "Citizen Train", he became a shipping magnate, a prolific writer, a minor presidential candidate, and a confidant of French and Australian revolutionaries. He claimed to have been offered the presidency of a proposed Australian republic, but declined.
During the American Civil War he gave numerous speeches in England in favor of the Union and denouncing the Confederacy.
Train's trip around the globe in 1870 was probably the inspiration for Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days, and its protagonist Phileas Fogg. In 1880, he managed to accomplish his third circumnavigation of the earth in 67 days. A plaque in Tacoma, Washington commemorates the point at which the 1880 trip began and ended. Train was accompanied on many of his travels by a long-suffering cousin and private secretary named George Pickering Bemis, who later became mayor of Omaha, Nebraska.
While in Europe after his 1870 trip, Train met with the Grand Duke Constantine. During that period he also persuaded the Queen of Spain to back the construction of a railway in the backwoods of Pennsylvania. This was the beginning of the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad. He also promoted and built new tramways in Britain after some opposition, which was eventually overcome by offering to run the rails level with the street.
On his return to the U.S., Train's popularity and reputation soared. He began promoting the great Union Pacific Railroad which he had been involved with for several years, despite the advice of Vanderbilt, who told him it would never work. Forming a finance company called Credit Foncier of America, Train made a fortune from real estate when the great railway running from coast to coast opened up huge swathes of western America, including large amounts of land in Omaha, Council Bluffs, Iowa and Columbus, Nebraska. He was responsible for building the Cozzens Hotel and founding Train Town in pioneer Omaha.
Along with Credit Foncier, Train's most famous creation was Credit Mobilier, which he started specifically to sell construction supplies for the Union Pacific. That venture was torn asunder by scandals that rocked the nation.
As he aged Train became more eccentric, in 1873 he was arrested and threatened with being sent to an insane asylum.
He stood for the position of Dictator of the United States, charged admission fees to his campaign rallies and drew record crowds. He became a vegetarian and adopted various fads in succession. Instead of shaking hands with other people, he shook hands with himself, the manner of greeting he had seen in China. He spent his final days on park benches in New York City's Madison Square Park, handing out dimes and refusing to speak to anyone but children and animals.
He became ill with smallpox at the residence of his daughter, Susan M. Train Gulager, in Stamford, Connecticut in 1903.
He died in New York and was buried at a small private ceremony at Green-Wood Cemetery.
An American Merchant in Europe, Asia, and Australia (1851) Young America Abroad (1857) Young America in Wall Street (1858) Irish Independency (1865) Championship of Women (1868) My Life in Many States and in Foreign Lands (1902)
Twain on Train:
1.^ Police News, The Times, 27 Mar 1861 2.^ "Streetcars named desire ... and some other things too". The Northern Echo. 31 December 2008. http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/features/4011683.Streetcars_named_desire_______and_some_other_things_too/. Retrieved 2009-01-05. "George Francis Train, who was the inspiration for Around the World In 80 Days, and the driving force behind Darlington’s street railroad" 3.^ Street Tramways, The Times, 26 May 1869 4.^ McCague, J. (1964) Moguls and Iron Men: The Story of the First Transcontinental Railroad. Harper and Row. p 135. 5.^ "George Francis Train Not to be Sent to an Insane Asylum.". New York Times. March 27, 1873. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9A00E7DB163DE43BBC4F51DFB5668388669FDE. Retrieved 2009-01-05. "... that George Francis Train, now confined in the Tombs for an obscene paper, ..." 6.^ Foster, A. (2002) Around the World with Citizen Train. Merlin Publishing. 7.^ "Went from Mills Hotel to Daughter's Home in Stamford.". New York Times. May 22, 1903. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9E0CE5D9143AE63AA15751C2A9639C946297D6CF. Retrieved 2009-01-05. "George Francis Train, the well-known New Yorker, is ill with smallpox at the residence of his daughter, Mrs. Susan M.T. Gulager, in this city. It is a light case and the physicians attending him said to-night that they were hopeful the patient would recover. They admitted, however, that the disease has not yet reached the stage where the outcome could be foretold with any degree of certainty." 8.^ "'Citizen' Train Buried". New York Times. January 22, 1904. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9500E6DC103DE633A25751C2A9679C946597D6CF. Retrieved 2009-01-05. "Services Attended by Representatives of Several Societies. Family Orders Flowers Sent by Friends to be Distributed Among Children in Hospitals." 9.^ "Weekly Record of New Publications". The Publishers Weekly (New York: , F. Leypoldt) 62 (2): 1007. 1902. http://books.google.com/books?id=9R8DAAAAYAAJ&dq=clipper%20memoriam&lr=&num=100&as_brr=4&pg=PT668#v=onepage&q=clipper%20memoriam&f=false. Retrieved Mar. 1, 2010. This article incorporates text from an edition of the New International Encyclopedia that is in the public domain.