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Gustavus F. SwiftEnlarge Alexander J. Cassatt (1839-1906)

Alexander Cassatt was born to wealth and did not have to work. But soon after earning his degree in civil engineering in 1859, he joined the Pennsylvania Railroad, where he became one of the most effective managers in railroading history. Appointed general superintendent of the Pennsylvania in 1870, he played a key part in the railroad's expansion, and was among the first to promote the virtues of the air brake. After retiring in 1882, Cassatt returned to the Pennsylvania seventeen years later to serve as its president. As he took the helm, many of the nation's railroads, including the Pennsylvania, were suffering economic devastation as a result of the rebates that big industrial shippers were demanding-and receiving. The rebates amounted to corporate blackmail, and in what some say was his finest moment, Cassatt devised an effective strategy for creating a united front of railroads to fight the practice. At the same time, he exercised substantial influence in winning the passage of the Elkins Anti-Rebate Law through Congress in 1903.

Samuel Sartain (1824-1906)
Engraving, 1904
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution