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J.F. Tallant to Eli Thayer

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Burlington Iowa July 15. 1856.
Hon. E. Thayer, Worcester Mass.
Dear Sir. Though a perfect stranger to you, your name and reputation is not unknown to me; and consequently I take the liberty of addressing you on a subject which perhaps may be of some interest to you and the cause to which you have devoted your time and best efforts. I allude of course to the freedom of Kansas Territory.
It seems to be conceded on all points that freedom of the navigation of the Missouri River will never again be conceded to northern emigration. Every annoyance and petty theft that malice can suggest and cupidity perform, will be resorted to, to the injury of northern travellers; and a railroad route through Southern Iowa, with steam packets plying from the SouthWestern portion of that State to the nearest point in Kansas free from connection or contact with the Platte purchase country in Missouri, is probably the only resort left to those wishing to move in peace and comfort from the East to the Far West. Perhaps if with the view of promoting this, as much as anything else, that Congress recently passed the Iowa Land Bill, donating alternate sections of land to four railroad routes from the Mississippi to the Missouri Rivers.
Intimately connected with this route from its first inception to the present day, I would desire to attract your attention and the many able and talented men associated with you

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to what I regard as the mode most likely to secure the object we here have at heart, no less than yourself and associates – the freedom of Kansas by promoting emigration from the free states thereto.
Our route is fully fifty miles shorter than any other across the State of Iowa; and what is more to the point, lands the traveller forty miles further down the Missouri River, and that much nearer the destination of the Kansas bound traveller – making fully ninety miles distance saved over any other, while from Chicago we have more miles of railroad already constructed and in operation.
The Legislature of this state is now in session, acting upon the Land grant by the Federal government. A bill is now reported and is passing in sections, donating the lands to the various routes upon the most liberal terms. By pursuing the policy of the Illinois Central Road, that of building the road first and selling the lands afterwards, the grant of lands, which will unquestionably amount to several hundred acres, may be made to realize several millions of dollars – enough, and more than enough to construct the road.
The only question is one of time. We of course want the road built immediately, if possible. Twelve months can see the locomotive on the banks of the Missouri, if every thing goes right. But to do this quickly will require, of course plenty of money, - and – the Land Grant will guarantee this

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if parties East can but have confidence in it, and satisfy themselves as to its value etc.
Under these circumstances, will you, and those associated look at our project, go over the route, satisfy yourselves, and give it your endorsement? Will Mr. Laurence, or some of your other good men in whom all New England have unlimited confidence, take the Presidency of the Road, and thus give it his sanction in a practical form? The duties of course will be principally advisory, (for we have thirty miles of road built now, and will have more before the close of the present year) and the labor will be cheerfully performed here by men in whose responsibility you can have the most perfect confidence.
But I have perhaps said enough to attract your attention to the project, and will add no more now, hoping that this necessarily meager sketch may lead to something more important. If you deem our scheme as likely to be of practical value to you and your Society, you can soon be in a position to learn all the particulars of the subject necessary to know. May I ask of you the favor to give me an answer to this, with your views?
Very respectfully,
J. F. Tallant
P.S. Should you desire to know something of me personally, and of our country, I would beg leave to refer you to the Hon. J. W. Foster, Monson, Mass.
T.

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