The Great American Railroad refers to a railroad built from Covenant, Arkansas to San Diego, California in the early 1860's, funded almost in full by the federal government. The railroad was significant for a number of reasons, including its introduction of numerous Northerners to Southern states due to the route required to reach the West, a population boom in Arkansas, Texas and southern California in the late 1860's and early 1870's and the precedence of federal regulation of railroads, which would preempt the federal takeover of the privately owned Transcontinental Railroad from St. Louis to San Francisco across the Rocky Mountains (which was completed in 1869) and the Atlantic-Pacific Railroad from Winnipeg to Tacoma (completed in 1877) during the Alaskan War. Subsidies for railroad construction from both the Douglas and Seymour administrations helped build a massive railroad grid across the United States, driving down the costs of goods and labor and are often attributed to helping end slavery.

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