What Are the Pacific Railroad Acts?

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The Pacific Railroad Acts are a series of formal decisions that were made by Congress to promote the construction of the transcontinental railroad. These acts authorized the issuance of government bonds to help raise funds, and granted land to railroad companies for construction.

President Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 into law. The original act was subsequently changed by four additional acts over the next 4 years. The Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 was the first time that the United States government had granted land to a corporation directly. Prior to that, land had been given to the states for the benefit of corporations.