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Dictionary of Wisconsin History

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Search Results for: Definition: 'la crosse', Term Type: 'People'

Term: Mitchell, Alexander 1817 - 1887

Definition:

banker, railroad promoter and executive, politician, Congressman, b. Aberdeenshire, Scotland. He migrated to the U.S. in 1839 to become secretary of the Wisconsin Marine and Fire Insurance Co. in Milwaukee, which was founded by Chicago capitalist and fellow Scotsman, George Smith. The company (chartered as an insurance business) soon began to operate as a banking concern, and for a number of years Mitchell was involved in a series of disputes with the Wisconsin legislature but continued to evade attempts to revoke the company's charter. The firm's certificates of deposit were widely circulated and were credited with helping to stabilize the currency needs of the Northwest. In 1852 Mitchell worked out a compromise with the state legislature; in 1853 the Wisconsin free banking law was passed, and the company was reorganized as the Wisconsin Marine and Fire Insurance Co. Bank. Mitchell acquired Smith's remaining interest in the concern about 1854, and was also first president of the Wisconsin Bankers' Association (1858). During the Civil War he was credited with devising a system which saved many of the Wisconsin banks from failure. Although prominent in many early Milwaukee and Wisconsin banking and capital investment enterprises, Mitchell is primarily remembered as a railroad builder and executive. He was a promoter and stockholder in many of the early state railroad ventures, including the Milwaukee and Mississippi (later the Milwaukee and Prairie du Chien), and the La Crosse and Milwaukee R.R. In 1865 Mitchell became president of the virtually bankrupt Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway Co., which eventually absorbed the other lines. Mitchell was able to put this road on a paying basis within a year, and, although in 1866 the railroad comprised only about 270 miles of track, by the time of Mitchell's death in 1887 the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul R.R. (renamed in 1874) operated over 5,000 miles of track in seven states. Mitchell was also active in state and national politics, especially following the Civil War. A Democrat: he was elected to Congress in 1870, was re-elected in 1872, and served two terms (Mar. 1871 Mar. 1875). He was not a candidate for renomination in 1874, and in 1877 declined the Democratic nomination for governor. Through his wealth, railroad power, and political connections, Mitchell was for many years one of the most powerful figures in the Midwest. In 1874 he successfully defied the state Potter law (regulating railroad rates) and although the law was held constitutional by state supreme court justice, E. G. Ryan (q.v.), Mitchell succeeded in working out a compromise with state Railroad Commissioner, George Paul (q.v.), and Granger-Reform Governor William R. Taylor (q.v.), which led to modification of rate regulation, the ultimate defeat of Taylor, and the repeal of the Potter Act. Mitchell continued as president of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul R.R. until his death. He died while visiting in New York City. Dict. Amer. Biog.; A. Derleth, Milwaukee Road (New York, 1948); WPA MS.

The Wisconsin Historical Society has manuscripts related to this topic. See the catalog description of the Alexander and John L. Mitchell Papers for details.

View a biographical sketch at Wisconsin Historical Collections.

View newspaper clippings at Wisconsin Local History and Biography Articles.

[Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography]

112 records found

Anderson, Wendell Abraham 1840 - 1929
Arnold, Alexander Ahab 1833 - 1915
Bailey, Col. Joseph (1826-1867)
Bashford, Coles 1816 - 1878
Bean, Jacob Linsley 1809 - 1855
Bice, Raymond C. 1896
Boardman, Maj. Frederick A. (1832-1863)
Bosshard, Otto 1876 - 1943
Brayton, Aaron Martin 1872 - 1949
Brunson, Alfred 1793 - 1882
Burns, Timothy 1820 - 1853
Byers, Mark Rhea 1892 - 1950
Cameron, Angus 1826 - 1897
Candrian, Adolph 1850 - 1929
Cargill, William Wallace 1844 - 1909
Cary, John Watson 1817 - 1895
Catholics in Wisconsin
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Wis
Clements, Sylvester G. 1936
Coburn, Frank Potter 1858 - 1932
Cole, Harry Ellsworth 1861 - 1928
Colman, Charles Lane 1826 - 1901
Cowie, Robert Somerville 1873 - 1951
Crocker, Hans 1815 - 1889
Czechs in Wisconsin
Czerwinski, Joseph C. 1944
Davidson, William Fuson ["Commodore"] 1825 - 1887
Decorah family
Devitt, James C. 1929
Dutch in Wisconsin
Edwards, Benjamin Eugene 1845 - 1916
Episcopals in Wisconsin
Esch, John Jacob 1861 - 1941
Faville, John 1847 - 1927
Feingold, Russell D. 1953
Freehoff, William Adolph 1889 - 1950
Freethinkers in Wisconsin
Gale, George 1816 - 1868
Gard, John 1963
Gibson, Lawrence R. 1912
Greider, Gerald A. 1923
Griswold, Harry Wilbur 1886 - 1939
Hadley, Jackson 1815 - 1867
Hastings, Samuel Dexter 1816 - 1903
Heileman, Gottlieb 1824 - 1878
Heiss, Michael 1818 - 1890
Hirshheimer, Albert 1840 - 1924
Hixon, Gideon Cooley 1826 - 1892
Huebsch, Michael D. 1964
Jeskewitz, Suzanne 1942
Jews in Wisconsin
Johnson, Samuel Curtis 1833 - 1919
Kellman, Norris J. 1898
Kellogg, Col. John A. (1828 - 1883)
Kilbourn, Byron 1801 - 1870
Kind, Ron 1963
Kneeland, Moses 1809 - 1864
Knowlton, James H. 1813 - 1879
Knutson, Milo G. 1918
Kohl, Herbert H. 1935
Larsen, [Peter) Laur[Entius] 1833 - 1915
Legler, Henry Eduard 1861 - 1917
Leibham, Joseph K. 1969
Levy, John Meyer 1820 - 1910
Litscher, Leroy "Pete" 1939
Low Cloud, Charles Round 1872 - 1949
Lucey, Patrick J. 1918
Maxon, Densmore William 1820 - 1887
Mcgavick, Alexander Joseph 1863 - 1948
Medinger, John Donald 1948
Merkt, John L. 1946
Merrill, Sherburn Sanborn 1818 - 1885
Meyer, Mark 1963
Miller, Andrew Galbraith 1801 - 1874
Mitchell, Alexander 1817 - 1887
Mittness, Lewis T. 1929
Mulder, Leland E. 1925
Musser, Terry M. 1947
Myrick, Nathan 1822 - 1903
Nicholson, Isaac Lea 1884 - 1906
Nuttelman, Norbert 1911
Oestreicher, John C. 1936 - 2011
Offner, Paul 1942
Peck, George Wilbur 1840 - 1916
Peterson, James D.H. 1894
Pomeroy, Marcus Mills ["Brick"] 1833 - 1896
Powell, David Franklin ["White Beaver"] 1847 - 190
Price, William Thompson 1824 - 1886
Quackenbush, Robert L. 1923
Roberts, Virgil 1922
Rude, Brian D. 1955
Sanasarian, Harout O. 1944
Sanford, Albert Hart 1866 - 1956
Schneider, Marlin D. 1942
Schwebach, James 1847 - 1921
Shilling, Jennifer 1969
Stoddard, Thomas Benton 1800 - 1876
Strong, Moses Mccure 1810 - 1894
Taylor, Horace Adolphus 1837 - 1910
Thompson, George 1918
Trane, Reuben Nicholas 1886 - 1954
Ulrich, John 1828 - 1894
Underheim, Gregg 1950
Universalists in Wisconsin
Usher, Ellis Baker 1852 - 1931
Van Meter, Abraham Chenoweth ["Abe C."] 1842 - 189
Walker, George H. 1811 - 1866
Wartinbee, D. Russell 1903
Washburn, Gov. Cadwallader Colden (1818-1882)
Wells, Daniel Jr. 1808 - 1902
Withrow, Gardner R. 1892
Woodward, Gilbert Motier 1835 - 1914

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