Family:Whitney, Asa (1797-1872)

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Asa7 Whitney (Shubael6, Asa5, Joshua4, William3, Joshua2, John1), son of Shubael6 and Sarah (Mitchell) Whitney, was born 14 Mar 1797, Groton, CT,[1] and died 18 Sep 1872, Washington, DC.

He married firstly, ----- Monroe.

He married secondly, 2 Oct 1852, Mrs. Catherine (Moore) Campbell. She died s. p.

Asa Whitney was born in Groton, CT, and in his youth removed to New York City, where he was regularly trained to commerce as a vocation and became a successful and leading importing merchant. Education, travel in Europe in connection with his pursuits and intercourse with prominent men at home and abroad all tended to enlarge the grasp of a mind which was statesmanlike in its native cast and to give direction to thoughts animated by the honorable ambition of achieving a public good. The great fire in New York in 1836 swept away the greatest part of a fortune which had been built up by years of honest toil, and for a time paralyzed the energies of the victims of that calamity. Gathering up the fragments of his shattered wealth, Mr. Whitney embarked for China to recommence life at its meridian. After a few years residence there and in Europe, he returned to the United States bringing with him the ripened fruits of a large experience and the well-developed plan of that work to which it may be said his mature life was unselfishly dedicated. The mighty problem of connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by way of a railway was worked out on a homeward voyage from China, the trade of which, and of Japan, his forecast then regarded as the basis of its future prosperity. A narrative of the life of Asa Whitney from 1840 to 1850 is the history of the development, during that period of the Pacific railway project. This was the aim and object of his life and he devoted his fortune and energies to that aim and object with all the zeal and persistence of a fanatic. In the second memorial presented by him to Congress in 1846 he says that while riding on the Liverpool & Manchester railroad in England, in 1830, and observing the speed and facility with which its work was done, he foresaw the great future of railways, and predicted the important part they would perform in abbreviating the distance between China and the markets of England. In 1842 while on a voyage to China, his attention was more forcibly called to the matter by information of the recent conclusion of a peace with China and the opportunity afforded by it for a more exstensive commerce. He spent about 2 years thereafter in China, during which time he accumulated much information concernig the commerce of the east, and in 1844 he returned to America fully impressed with the importance of constructing a Pacific railway. He was finally instrumental in securing appropriations in 1853 for the first surveys of the northern, southern and middle routes and lived to see communications opened from sea to sea in 1869. He was the author of "A Project for a Railroad to the Pacific" (New York, 1849), and "A Plan for a Direct Communication between the Great Centers of Populations of Europe and Asia" (London, 1851). He died 18 Sep 1872; resided New York, NY, and at Locust Hill in Washington, DC, s.p.

For more information see Archives.

Census

79 79 Asa Whitney 58 M - Farmer/Dairy man Connecticut Catherine M. " 45 F - 25000 5000 North Carolina Ida Moore 35 F - " Catherine Hort 22 F - " Anna Roden 13 F M Servant Wash. Co. D.C. Francis King 8 M M " " Patrick Butler 35 M M " " Patrick Murphy 30 M - Laborer Ireland Micheal Doyle 45 M - " " William Doyle 30 M - " " Micheal Cudman 19 M - " " Philip Ryne 21 M - " " Joseph Reider 55 M - " Switzerland Frank Riley 40 M - " Ireland

160 158 Whitney, Asa 73 M W Farmer Connecticut Male citizen over 21 Whitney, Catherine M. 65 F W Keeping House $40000 $3000 North Carolina Wilson, Henrietta 40 F W " McDonald, Jennie 14 F W Domestice Servant Dist. Columbia Parents foreign born Donovan, Kitty 9 F W " Parents foreign born Burris, George 35 M W Farm Laborer Maryland Male citizen over 21 Martin, Thos. 24 M W U.S. Soldier " Male citizen over 21, nonvoter

References

1.^  "Asa [Whitney], [s. Shubael], b. 19 Mar 1797," according to the Barbour Collection of Connecticut Vital Records, Groton 3:2.


Copyright © 2006, 2009, 2010, 2012, Robert L. Ward and the Whitney Research Group.

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