Oakes Ames in Transcontinental Railroad
Oakes Ames (1804-1873) was a U.S. congressman, an early investor in the Central Pacific, and a key player in the Union Pacific and Crédit Mobilier stories. Between his political power and the fortune he had made with his brother selling shovels during the Gold Rush, Oakes Ames, the "King of Spades," was in the position to do a lot for the transcontinental railroad. He even had the endorsement of President Lincoln.
Ames involved himself intimately in the Union Pacific and became an investor and promoter for Crédit Mobilier. After his brother Oliver became the UP president over Thomas Durant and construction began to take off, Oakes Ames and the early Crédit Mobilier investors made a fortune. More and more people in Washington wanted part of the deal, and Ames sold a large amount of Crédit Mobilier stock.
Ames's dealings brought a lot of money into the railroad and certainly helped the project reach completion, but his involvement ended in ruin. When the huge profits of Crédit Mobilier were made public and compared to the nearly bankrupt books of the railroad, Ames found himself at the center of the nineteenth century's biggest financial scandal. Although a federal investigation ultimately handed down only congressional censures, Ames's career was over. The King of Spades had become "Hoax" Ames to the public, never to recover.