The paper is based upon research over a rather long period into the public activities in railroad construction in the southern states. Table I-A presents a quantitative summary of public contributions in cash, bonds, and other securities; government-endorsed bonds; remission of Federal import duties; and estimated realized values of Federal land grants prior to 1861. It represents an attempt to give a preliminary summary of the public effort. The estimates on public land grants are tentative, and other items are subject to further refinements through additional studies. It does not represent the total of the public effort, since no account is taken in this summary of the investment values of the many important public and quasi-public contributions in services, the uses of public streets and other properties, tax exemptions, and banking privileges. An adequate appraisal of these must await further research. The summary does reflect, however, some of the outstanding features of the public railroad-building effort, which will supply a useful background for the consideration of the main problem of this paper.