Baltimore and Ohio Rail Road Co. signed by Thomas Swann - Stock CertificateInv# AG2610 Stock
Stock signed by Thomas Swann as president.
Thomas Swann (February 3, 1809 – July 24, 1883) was an American lawyer and politician who also was President of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad as it completed track to Wheeling and gained access to the Ohio River Valley. Initially a Know-Nothing, and later a Democrat, Swann served as the 19th Mayor of Baltimore (1856–1860), later as the 33rd Governor of Maryland (1866–1869), and subsequently as U.S. Representative ("Congressman") from Maryland's 3rd congressional district and then 4th congressional district (1869–1879), representing the Baltimore area.
Swann was born in Alexandria, Virginia, the fourth son born by the former Jane Byrd Page, a member of one of the First Families of Virginia. His mother died three years later after a difficult childbirth. His attorney father, Thomas Swann, had served in the Virginia House of Delegates and with political connections to William Wirt and other Virginia lawyers in the national government, would become United States Attorney for the District of Columbia during this man's childhood. Although two of his brothers died between 1825 and 1829, Swann's elder brother Wilson Cary Swann (1806-1876) was educated with him and later rose to prominence as a physician, philanthropist, and social reformer in Philadelphia.
The Swann brothers attended Columbian College (now George Washington University) in Washington, D.C., then the University of Virginia at Charlottesville. Thomas Jr. studied Ancient and modern languages and mathematics, but was also disciplined for disorderly conduct in 1825 and questioned in a gambling scandal the following year, which may have led him to enroll in a class in moral philosophy from prominent Virginia lawyer George Tucker. He also studied law under his father's guidance.
A Democrat, in 1833 and possibly through his father's connections, Swann secured an appointment from President Andrew Jackson as secretary of the United States Commission to Naples (Kingdom of the Two Sicilies - later Italy). Also admitted to the Virginia bar, he began following his father's career path by winning election to the Alexandria City council in 1833.
In 1834, Swann married an heiress and moved to Baltimore, Maryland, where his father's lawyer friend William Wirt had settled, and where Swann later became a railroad lawyer. His bride's British born father, John Sherlock, left a sizeable estate which included interests in French and Neopolitan spoliation claims, as well as 6000 acres of Pennsylvania land, 150 ounces of silver plate, 300 bottles of madeira, plus stock in the Bank of the United States, three Baltimore banks, two turnpikes, a canal in York, Pennsylvania and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (which had been incorporated in 1827 and in completed track to Harper's Ferry by 1834). His wife's uncle, Robert Gilmor, secured them entry into Baltimore society, although his father experienced financial difficulties after the Panic of 1836so young Thomas bought 600 to 700 acres of land and the Morven Park plantation home from his father, noting that his father's nemesis Nicholas Biddle likewise was forced to sell property to his sons after the panic. In 1840 the elder Thomas Swann died and this man inherited Morven Park, sixty slaves and his father's law library, and over the next years gradually purchased the rest of what had been his father's land. Meanwhile, this Thomas Swann and his family lived on Franklin Street in Baltimore, and used his late father's Virginia property Morven Park as their summer retreat.
Swann returned to Alexandria after his father's death in 1840, but also continued as a railroad lawyer. Between 1837 and 1843 he was the assistant to Louis McLane, a veteran politician who served as the railroad's president. In 1844 Swann became Alexandria' tobacco inspector, an important responsibility in that port city which also had railroad ties both to Richmond, and (via a separate station) to Baltimore. In 1846-1847, Swann was the B7O's lobbyist in Richmond, for the franchise the railroad had secured in 1827 was expiring, and its extension through western Virginia was opposed by the powerful political interests of the James River and Kanawha Canal Company. Swann secured the extension on March 6, 1847, the railroad began building to Wheeling, and by October 1848, Swann's large stockholdings in and services to the B&O led to his election as a director, and when McLane retired, he succeeded him as the railroad's president. by 1850, Swann raised funds in Europe to enable the B&O's extension to the Ohio River, continuing in that position until resigning in 1853. He was chosen as president of the Northwestern Virginia Railroad.
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