Ramsey County History – Fall 2008: “‘Mr. Livingston … Had the Tenth:’ An Episode in Minnesota Railroad Building”

John M. Lindley

“Mr. Livingston … Had the Tenth:” An Episode in Minnesota Railroad Building 
Author: John M. Lindley

On October 3, 1883, the Minnesota Supreme Court rendered its decision in the case of James H. Weed et al. vs. Little Falls & Dakota Railroad et al. One of many railroad cases of the era, the case resulted from an argument over who would profit over the building of the LF&D line. One of the vital findings was that that Henry Villard, president of the Northern Pacific Railroad, had agreed to pay Crawford Livingston one-tenth of any profits made from the sale of the LF&D to the Northern Pacific. The article examines how one nineteenth-century Minnesota railroad was financed by asking several questions: how Livingston came to play a behind-the-scenes role in the financing; what his participation tells us about who profited and who lost in this railroad deal; and why the court ruled as it did. James Weed and the other plaintiffs in this case wanted the court to issue an injunction to stop the issuance of bonds secured by the railroad’s stocks and to benefit financially from the sale of the LF&D. The court found that Livingston had successfully brokered a sale between Colonel William Crooks of the LF&D and Henry Villard of the NP; therefore, he deserved a one-tenth share of the profits. Although the plaintiffs owned stock in the LF&D, they did not profit from the sale of the railroad.
PDF of Lindley article