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The failures of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads actually led to new insights for many Americans: Why should government subsidize any business? Such subsidies increased graft and waste, and in the long run, the firms that received the subsidies either went bankrupt or had to be rebuilt. Thus, during the three decades following the 1869 completion of the Union Pacific– Central Pacific rail line, most U.S. politicians abandoned talk of federal aid for business (other than occasional tariffs). This atmosphere of freedom ignited a burst of industrial production and invention that had never been seen before, and a new term for the late 1800s gained popularity: the Gilded Age. Of course not all politicians during the Gilded Age resisted the temptations of voting for lucrative subsidies for companies in their home states. But if they tried to do so, they were stopped by constitutional presidents like Grover Cleveland, who vetoed 414 pieces of legislation from Congress during his first term alone. With the failure of subsidized canals, steamships, and railroads, American leaders finally became serious about limiting government and cutting expenditures. After 1865, the United States had twenty-eight straight years of federal budget surpluses, and cut two-thirds of its entire national debt.

Folsom Jr., Burton W., Jr.; Folsom, Anita (2014-04-15). Uncle Sam Can't Count: A History of Failed Government Investments, from Beaver Pelts to Green Energy (pp. 97-98). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

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