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A NATURAL LEADER.
The father was an Episcopal clergyman, and the family was large. At the time of Mr. Harriman's birth the Rev. Orlando His family was large; there were four sons Harriman was rector of the little parish of and two daughters. "Henry," as E. H. St. George's, at Hempstead, Long Island. Harriman was known as a boy, was the third The family was English of origin. The son and the fourth child. He was by all Harriman who came over along in 1800 accounts very much the father of the man; must have been very well to do, if he was he was a scrapper," and a day begun with
not rich. He drove a four-in-hand, and certainly four-in-hands were rare enough in that day. He had a large family, his sons and daughters had large families, and so it is that the tribe of Harrimans is numerous. An uncle, Oliver Harriman, came to be one of the best-known merchants of New York.
Afterward, the Rev. Orlando Harriman had charge of two small parishes in Jersey City. A photograph represents him as a large-headed, square-shouldered, deep-chested sort of a man, with heavy, beetling brows and strong jaws, a kind of Charles Darwin sort of a head, as you see it in Darwin's earlier portraits, bull-dog English all over, as little the ministerial type as anything you can well imagine. Nevertheless, he was something of a classical scholar; at Columbia won medals and honors, and of those medals and honors it was interesting to find his son, not in the
out a shindy was not begun properly. An associate of his school days described him as "the worst little devil in his class, and always at the top of it." He was generally at the top of things,-but sports and organizations much more than studies. He did not like to study, he says. When the war broke out he organized a company of youngsters of his own age into a troup of zouaves; they met the regiments of soldiery that passed through Jersey City and had a royal time.
For a time Mr. Harriman and his brothers attended Trinity School, in New York. To do this they got up before daylight, got their own breakfasts, tramped two miles to the ferry, and then another mile to the school. Perhaps the boy did not much mind when he exchanged this for a place in a Wall Street office. It is rather notable that three of the four brothers gravitated to Wall
nections than anything else. An older brother, John Neilson Harriman, was a partner in a Wall Street house with the famous "Larry" Jerome, father of the present district attorney of New York.
At 18,-that is to say, four years after he went into "the Street "-E. H. Harriman had a partnership; it was not in his brother's firm; at 22 he struck out for himself, and bought a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. This he has held ever since. There are few members who have held their seats longer than he, and all this, I take it, strikes the keynote to Mr. Harriman's career and his personality. He began on Wall Street; he grew up in Wall Street; he has the Wall Street point of view. But as we shall see, there is a second large fact, and that is that in a sense he grew out of Wall Street, broadened beyond Broad Street, and I think this explains the second part of him.
man remarked, general managers felt like brigadier generals, and resented interference. There came a difference between the two men, and Mr. Jeffrey promptly resigned. Probably he did not expect that his resignation would be accepted; Mr. Harriman was a Wall Street broker who had come out to Chicago; obviously he could know nothing about running a railroad. But he did, and the resignation was accepted on the spot. Mr. Jeffrey is now president of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, which is building the Western Pacific, paralleling Mr. Harriman's Central Pacific from Salt Lake to San Francisco.
HIS FIRST RAILROAD.
Mr. Harriman promptly took the reins in his hands and began to pull the road out of very much such an embarrassing situation as the railroads of the country are facing at the present time, a plethora of traffic. He had already served his apprenticeship as a railroad manager. Some years previously he had got control of a little line that ran southward, 34 miles, from Sodus Bay, on Lake Ontario. It was a fragile affair, with a traffic as light as its roadbed and equipment. It was Mr. Harriman's notion that if he had a good road he could get business. He made it a good road and showed the Pennsylvania, whose lines it joined, that he could handle their traffic. He got the business from a rival road, not by cutting rates but by mak
The original firm which he organized was E. H. Harriman & Co. This is the present firm of Harriman & Co., but its founder is no longer a member of it. Of course, in 1870, when the firm was organized, a brokerage business required no such capital as it does now. A seat on the exchange sold then for from $10,000 to $15,000. Afterward, when Mr. Harriman retired, Nicholas Fish, brother of Stuyvesant Fish, was for a time a special partner in the firm. Both of them had rich connections; especially Mr. Harriman became associated with his uncle, Oliver Harriman. I suppose he hustled for business; ing a good line. This has been precisely his one can scarcely imagine otherwise. At policy in the development of the whole any rate, the firm got on. Along in '83 Union Pacific system, and he had developed came a fight in the Illinois Central, in which it in its entirety, back in the early 80's, in Stuyvesant Fish was interested. By that his first attempt at railroading. The road time Mr. Harriman had acquired a consider- paid, and he finally sold it to the Pennsylable block of Illinois Central stock; he was vania, the morning of the Grant & Ward chosen a director; his stock or his influence failure. turned the scale. Mr. Fish was made vicepresident. In 1886 Oliver Harriman was also elected a director, which made the Harriman interest very strong in the board, and when a year later still Mr. Fish was chosen president, E. H. Harriman was his successor in the vice-presidency.
WANTED TO RETIRE.
It is interesting to know that when Mr. Harriman was chosen vice-president of the Illinois Central he retired from the brokerage business, with the intention of devoting himself "to more intellectual pursuits." He had a comfortable fortune, as fortunes were
ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE ILLINOIS CEN- considered then. He was still under 40, and wanted to go back and make up for lost time.
I wasted 15 years of my life," he said, "from the time I was. 14.' When he went to Chicago he did not intend to stay more than a few months, but he stayed three years. Immediately that he took hold of the Illinois Central it was to inaugurate a new policy.
When Mr. Fish went to Europe Mr. Harriman was made acting president. E. T. Jeffrey was then general manager, and one of the best-known railroad men in the counThese were days when, as Mr. Harri
about $13,000,000; so that the Government's net claim was in the neighborhood of $41,
The idea of railroad management then was to roads had been able to reorganize and get run a road as cheaply as possible, and pay big back on their feet, the Union Pacific strugdividends. Mr. Harriman's notion was that gled in vain under the heavy load of the there were bigger dividends in provid- Government debt. That amounted, with ing adequately for traffic. He set about crude and compound interest, to around putting in new sidings, extending old $54,000,000. Against this there were, howones, and because he was in too much of ever, securities held in deposit to a value of a hurry for engines he rented a big (equipment from the -Atchison, which that road had ordered but was unable to pay for. The congestion was broken, the new policy was vigorously carried out, and Mr. Harriman himself considers (although Mr. Fish would doubtless have other ideas) that it was from this time that the Illinois Central dates as a modern railroad. He applied to its upbuilding the same meth
ods that he had put
into effect on his
little Sodus Bay MR. HARRIMAN AT THE TIME OF HIS MARRIAGE. line.
It was at this time that he became interested in the Alton. There was a rival line building that threatened both the Alton and the Illinois Central. Mr. Harriman bought it, "very cheap," and partitioned it between the two roads. Evidently the merger instinct was even then strong, for it was his idea to bring the two roads into a closer relationship. He and his associates acquired large blocks of Alton stock, finally purchasing the Blackstone interest, and the Alton passed into Harriman hands, there to remain until a coterie of gentlemen with fortunes made in tin plate, the brothers Moore and their associates, bought practically the control of the road from under his feet and allied it with their Rock Island properties.
A GREAT WRECK.
Meanwhile, to the westward lay the great Union Pacific system, prostrate. It had been built up to a wide stretching line of rails, aggregating about 7500 miles. It went
It was a huge and not overly inviting wreck. One group of capitalists after another tried to come to terms with the Government and secure the road. Senator Brice tried; Mr. Morgan tried; they all failed. Finally there came an offer one day from Mr. Jacob H. Schiff; it was to pay flatly the Government's claim and lift entirely the Government's lien. It was not an overly light-hearted undertaking to pay over $41,000,000 of good money, for even this was only a second lien on the property. The first-mortgage holders had also to be satisfied, to say nothing of a great quantity of notes and sundry securities.
Mr. Harriman was made chairman of the Executive Committee; but so quietly had he worked through all the previous years that there were many, even in Wall Street, to inquire who he was. Mr. Horace G. Burt, who had won distinction as an engineer on the Northwestern, was made president. To make the Union Pacific a modern road an engineer was needed, and likewise a financial genius who could work with him, understand him. It was here that Mr. Harriman's railroad experience came in good stead. He was much more than a Wall Street broker; he had a marvelous capacity for mastering details and for grasping a situation. He took an engine and a car, turned the train backward, and, running daytimes only,
This was in the early summer of '98. He its curvatures and its gradients, mile by mile. found a great crop growing and prospects To paste under each point where improvebrightening. The people were becoming ments were proposed, Mr. Harriman had more hopeful; they had been saving. The country was not nearly so poor as it was five years before. Colorado was turning from silver to gold, not politically but practically, and growing rich again. Mr. Harriman had faith, faith in the country, faith in the West. As he went over the road he gained faith in the Union Pacific. He had faith, and he had foresight. He believed that the long-looked-for turning had come. He saw a great crop out on those Western prairies preparing a great tonnage for the road that was ready to carry it.
IN THE SADDLE.
While yet on the ground, from his exploring car he telegraphed back a huge order for equipment. His associates, his colleagues on the Executive Committee, were still fearful, cautious. They had a huge load to carry already; they were little minded to take on
Mr. Harriman telegraphed back: "I cannot wait to discuss the question. The business is here; we must be ready to carry it."
The equipment was ordered, the crops fulfilled their promise, and Union Pacific earnings shot up with a bound.
The new management was beginning to show results; but purse-strings were still tight. To get more money for equipment, more money to put the road in position to earn more, the new management had to seize every available opportunity; the renewal of a contract with the Pullman Company brought in a considerable sum. This went into more equipment. Earnings continued to grow.
Business throve. The credit of the
road began to improve.
Then it was that Mr. Harriman, with his engineers, worked out his great plan for the practical rebuilding of the line, at least its mountain section.
Before the rebuilding was complete it had absorbed a matter of $20,000,000; and this, it should be understood, applied simply to the main line of the road, stretching from Omaha to Ogden.
HOW MILLIONS ARE SPENT.
For the expenditure of so huge a sum the consent of Mr. Harriman's associates was not easily won. This is how he brought them round: He had Mr. Berry prepare a blue print showing the contour of the road,
drawn up a tabulation showing just the amount of curve and grade to be eliminated, just what it would cost, just what the improvements would save, and the amounts which the money would earn if so expended. With this big blue print roll thus embellished, Mr. Harriman went over the matter with his associates, convincing them step by step. The appropriation was ordered. The credit of the road had been established, and Mr. Harriman got the money.
The story of this daring rebuilding has been told-many times; there is no need to repeat it here. The line was leveled down to a maximum grade of 41 feet to the mile; the Union Pacific occupied the most advantageous route through its territory, and practically forever barred a direct competitor in its especial field. What it all meant has been amply attested. in the subsequent astonishing earnings of the road.
All told, the new company gathered in together about 5800 miles of the old system. Subsequently about 400 miles of this was sold to Senator Clark's San Pedro & Los Angeles line, partly in exchange for a half interest in that road. And this is the system as it stands to-day, 5400 miles of modern road. The Harriman policy has been distinctly one of concentration, rebuilding, and upbuilding.
BUYS A WHOLE SYSTEM.
But in one important direction the Union Pacific was blocked. Originally built as a twin line to the old Central Pacific, it was a link in a transcontinental route from the Missouri River to San Francisco. Subsequently the Central Pacific passed under the control of the Southern Pacific, and relations were not harmonious. In 1900 Mr. Harriman opened negotiations for the purchase of the Central Pacific property. Mr.. Huntington, at the head of the Southern Pacific, was mildly astonished; he had no intention of letting go of so desirable a part of his system. Mr. Harriman's answer was to begin the construction of an independent line from Ogden to San Francisco. In the midst of the negotiations Mr. Huntington died, and then it was that Mr. Harriman and his associates carried out one of the most brilliant coups in recent railroad annals. That was the purchase of practical control of the whole Southern Pacific system,
(Several lines not shown on this map,-the Illinois Central, Chicago & Alton, Baltimore & Ohio, and others, are allied with the Harriman interests.)
9000 miles of road extending from Portland on the north to New Orleans on the south, the longest line of continuous track on the continent.
At a stroke a road of nearly twice the extent of the Union Pacific became its subsidiary and dependent. But this purchase, eventually involving $90,000,000 par value of common stock and $18,000,000 of preferred, -perhaps a cash investment in excess of $70,000,000,-was merely the prelude to the application of the same policy of gigantic expenditure for improvements which was then in full sway on the Union Pacific. All told, in six years Mr. Harriman's two roads spent a total in excess of two hundred million dollars, or an average of around $14,000 per mile for a system nearly 15,000 miles in ex
Nor is there any indication that this lavish expenditure is drawing to a close. This year, though more for new lines than for improvement of old, the system ha appropriated about $35,000,000. Mr. Harriman
in millions much as most men would talk and think in thousands, and as some folk whom I know better than any one else would talk and think in hundreds.
Is this merely the effect of his position? Is it just as easy to think millions, handle millions, as hundreds or thousands? Probably in some sense, yes; certainly in another sense, no. I was particularly struck, as Mr. Harriman was explaining the plan or method by which this system is operated,-a method differing from that of any other railroad in the United States. The system is divided up into sections, averaging about 2500 miles in length, and at the chief point ci each of these sections,-Omaha, Portland, New Orleans, etc., two men are placed in full command, one in the operating department, one in the traffic department. These sections, by the way, are independent of the question as to whether they belong to one road or another, and, in point of fact, overlap.
The basis for these divisions lies in the