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The Achilles’ heel of American capitalism in the 19th century was the shortage of sufficient manpower at hand to transform eager capital and vast raw materials into profitable infrastructure, products, and commodities, let alone rescue snowbound emigrants.
In the 1860s, the labor shortage was a matter of desperation to the capitalists known as the Big Four, who were striving to drive the Central Pacific line through the unforgiving terrain of the Sierras, so it could reach the basin land of Nevada and Utah and slap down track (and claim land grants) in competition with the Union Pacific railroad racing over the Midwest flatlands.
As usual, California was short of labor, at least white labor.