Letter from Oliver Ames to Thomas C. Durant, January 1, 1868

In this letter from January 1, 1868, Oliver Ames writes to Thomas C. Durant regarding the financial status of the Union Pacific Railroad. He notes that several creditors are "clamorous for money," but that the company has "really nothing to raise the money with." He tells Durant that it would be a disgrace to have to suspend construction for want of funds and advises him to "discharge all unnecessary men at once and get no more ties and timber than is absolutely necessary for the Work."

Dr. T. C. Durant VP

Dear Sir,

To raise what money was necessary to meet our Payments, we have used up all of our Securities and have has [sic] to raise, on Certificates, gold to pay our interest on Bonds.

There are now 2,000,000 of money required to meet the drafts now asked for from Line of Road and really nothing to raise the money with. Our Chicago Creditors are clamorous for money and say they have loaded themselves down with bills of ours to their utmost capacity and must have money to keep along. Blair was in N.Y. yesterday and is ordered out to examine Road. He shall get sometime hence the 640,000 on this Section and if another can be got ready, they might examine this, but this would be but little help for the [pressing] claims upon us. The next remedy for us is estimation of work done in advance of track. This would help us and if the estimate could be promptly ordered, it would give us temporary relief. You ought to discharge all unnecessary men at once and get no more ties and timber than is absolutely necessary for the Work.

It would be an eternal disgrace to us, and to you in particular as the manager of the construction to be forced to suspend for want of funds to continue the work. Cut down expenditures remeasure the work as proposed and have a heavy Stock of ties and timber on hand. When the Road is completed we can buy these as wanted at better rates than now. And the Exhorbitant [sic] rates of interest we are now paying will eat us out. Was Ewing to have 10,000$ write me. He wants the money.

Yours Truly,
Oliver Ames Prest

The certificates last issued was with Proviso that the Parties were to take them Liable to assessment. We ought to do this.

About this Document

  • Source: Letter from Oliver Ames to Thomas C. Durant
  • Extent: 4 pages
  • Citation: Special Collections, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Papers of Levi O. Leonard, Series II, Box 3, Folder 21 (Ames, Oliver, 1866-1876)
  • Date: January 1, 1868