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The Congressman Would Have to Wait

September 5, 2019

The unsuspecting Congressman should have known better.  He had achieved the age of 40 at his last birthday.  He had been in the House of Representatives since 1863 and was the current Chairman of the Appropriations Committee.  He should have suspected something, especially when a good friend had warned him that fellow Congressman Oakes Ames was a deceptive character.

During the final months of the Civil War, when Ames was on the Committee on Railroads, President Lincoln had asked him to take control of the Union Pacific part of the transcontinental railroad project.  The following year Ames’s brother became president of that railroad.  Meanwhile, Crédit Mobilier of America had been established in 1864 by two officers of the Union Pacific.  They formed this new company in order to conceal their misuse of taxpayer money.  Oakes Ames’s job was now to get some important Congressmen and Senators to go along with the scheme by making them shareholders in Crédit Mobilier.

One of Ames’s targets was the unsuspecting Congressman. The Congressman had a perfectly legitimate defense, but he was embarrassed by his lack of sophistication in this matter.  He would have to admit he had been taken in by a scheme he should have easily seen through.  Also, to loudly proclaim there was something very wrong with the Crédit Mobilier might cast aspersions on fellow Congressmen who were framing their own defenses.

1872 was an election year.  Not only were the entire House and one-third of the Senate facing the voters, the President, a member of the same party as the Congressman, was running for re-election.  The Congressman would have to wait until after the election before he could make a more complete statement.

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