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Hill, James J

HILL, JAMES J (1838- ), American railway capitalist, was born near Guelph, Ontario, Canada, on the 16th of September 1838, and was educated at Rockwood (Ont.) Academy, a Quaker institution. In 1856 he settled in St Paul, Minnesota. Abandoning, because of his father's death, his plans to study medicine, he became a clerk in the office of a firm of river steamboat agents and shippers, and later the agent for a line of river packets; he established about 1870 transportation lines on the Mississippi and on the Red River (of the North). He effected a traffic arrangement between the St Paul Pacific Railroad and his steamboat lines; and when the railway failed in 1873 for $27,000,000, Hill interested Sir Donald A. Smith (Lord Strathcona), George Stephen (Lord Mount Stephen), and other Canadian capitalists, in the road and in the wheat country of the Red River Valley; he got control of the bonds (1878), foreclosed the mortgage, reorganized the road as the St Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba, and began to extend the line, then only 380 m. long, toward the Pacific; and in 1883 he became its president. He was president of the Great Northern Railway (comprehending all his secondary lines) from 1893 to April 1907, when he became chairman of its board of directors. In the extension (1883-1893) of this railway westward to Puget Sound (whence it has direct steamship connexions with China and Japan), the line was built by the company itself, none of the work being handled by contractors. Subsequently his financial interests in American railways caused constant sensations in the stock-markets. The Hill interests obtained control not only of the Great-Northern system, but of the Northern Pacific and the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, and proposed the construction of another northern line to the Pacific coast. Hill was the president of the Northern Securities Company. Out of his wealth he gave liberally, especially to Roman Catholic institutions, giving $500,000 to the St Paul Theological Seminary (Roman Catholic) and $1,500,000 to the new Roman Catholic cathedral in St Paul.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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