"There's a big difference between entrepreneurs who make a fortune in the market, and those who do so by gaming the government."
James J. Hill: Empire Builder of the Northwest
"In this volume, Michael P. Malone provides a succinct interpretive biography of James J. Hill, the 'Empire Builder' - so called for his work in developing the region of the United States between the Great Lakes and the Pacific Northwest. Hill was born near Rockwood, Ontario, in 1838. At age sixteen, following his father's death, he left home for St. Paul, Minnesota Territory. There he found work in the steam boating trade along the Mississippi River. By 1865 he was a freight agent, by 1877 a major coal dealer, and soon thereafter he owned a lucrative steamboat service along the Red River. From these beginnings in transportation, Hill eventually realized his dream of building a transcontinental railroad to the Pacific Ocean. Taking over the bankrupt Saint Paul and Pacific Railroad, which ran between St. Paul and Winnipeg, Hill spent fifteen years constructing what would become the Great Northern Railway. Nor did he stop then. Until his death, in 1916, he continued building and directing his ever-growing business empire. Like most other leaders in the history of American industry, Hill gained loyal partners and avid critics. He was a man of remarkable abilities, determination, and drive, but he could be equally ruthless, overbearing, and politically domineering. The Hill story touches every aspect of the regional economy: transportation, agriculture, mining, lumbering, maritime trade, and town building. Malone explores Hill's complex life and personality, his activities and interests, and recreates both the story of the railroad race to the Pacific and the complex interactions involved in the development of the region."
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