Alexander Johnston Cassatt
A Long-Overdue Tribute
A distinguished American and a giant in American history about whom few people know
Listen to an audio introduction to the Alexander Cassatt website.
A podcast accompanies this website. It is the "End of the Line Podcast," a biography of Alexander Cassatt. The podcast host site is on Podbean, but it is also available in Apple Podcasts (iTunes) and Google Play Music Podcasts.
Cassatt was one of our country's corporate titans, respected by his peers and oft-adversaries: Carnegie, Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Morgan, Gould and other robber barons of the time.
Great care has been given in the development of this website to honor the low-key and dignified manner in which Cassatt conducted his personal and business affairs. He eschewed publicity and fame which he so easily could have had. For this reason, little is known about the man. In the scarce publication and Internet information which is available, descriptors of admiration consistently abound.
In "End of the Line," published in 1978 and the only biography of Cassatt, author Patricia Talbot Davis' opening sentence in the Acknowledgements is: "A biographer's delight is an unheralded hero, and such is Alexander Johnston Cassatt."
The book description on the dust cover goes on to say: "Today the name Cassatt, if remembered at all, is associated with his artist sister, Mary, not with the railroad. He deserves better, and this account attempts to accord him his rightful place in the railroad annals of America."
The integrity and character of Alexander Cassatt is summed up in one paragraph from Patricia Davis' biography of Cassatt. It relates to the difficulties Cassatt faced regarding his vision and plan to build the Hudson and East River tunnels into New York City and subsequently Penn Station, arguably the grandest structure ever to grace the American landscape.
No franchises would be authorized by these greedy lawmakers (state legislators and Aldermen of NYC) until they had been well bribed. Such a method of acquiring permission to build an intricate transportation system which would benefit the public as well as the Pennsylvania Railroad was abhorrent to Cassatt, against all of his deeply held principles."