Topics » Business & Economy   Nov. 19, 2010

The Devils of American Finance - Past and Present

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1872: CREDIT MOBILIER OF AMERICA

A scandal involving the Union Pacific Railroad, which gave highly valuable contracts to a supposed independent company, Credit Mobilier, headed by the same people who directed the Union Pacific, many of whose shareholders were government officials in charge of oversight of the transcontinental railroad construction project.

"Some eight years ago the country was startled by the announcement of the grossest corruption in our national legislature," wrote J.B. Crawford in a history of the scandal in 1880.

The emotional impact of the scandal is suggested by the editorial cartoon pictured here, as Uncle Sam directs congressmen implicated in the scheme to commit Hari-Kari -- suicide by disembowelment.