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COLLECTION Identifier: Mss:724 1907-1915 B747a

William Badger Lawrence papers relating to the proposed takeover of the Boston and Maine Railroad by the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad Company


Collection consists of the papers of William B. Lawrence, clerk of the Boston & Maine Railroad, regarding the aborted merger of the Boston and Maine Railroad with the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad Company, 1907-1915.


  • 1907-1915

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials stored offsite; access requires advance notice. Contact for more information.


1.75 linear feet (2 boxes, 1 carton)

The collection consists of the working papers of William B. Lawrence, clerk of the Boston and Maine Railroad, who took part in most of the hearings before the Railroad Commission from 1907 until 1911. Papers include meeting notices, news clippings, balance sheets, abstracts, transcripts, reports, statements, lists of assets and liabilities, monthly reports of revenues and expenses, memoranda, resolutions, letters sent and received, notes and legislative bills. The bulk of the collection consists of selected hearing typescripts provided by stenographer Arthur T. Lovett that contain transcripts of testimony before the Railroad Commission of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. A majority of the testimonies contain remarks by William B. Lawrence. Other speakers include attorneys, politicians, businessmen, officers of both railroads and stockholders with an interest in the merger of the two railroads.

Historical Note:

During the nineteenth century, the Boston and Maine Railroad grew to provide rail service in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. By 1900, this profitable venue attracted not only individuals interested in handsome stock dividends but other corporations as well. Among these were American Express Company and the Pullman Company, which acquired large holdings of Boston and Maine Railroad stock at the turn of the twentieth century. In 1907, the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad Company—a consolidated corporation created by concurrent legislation of the State of Connecticut and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts—purchased the American Express holdings and proceeded to secure control of the Boston and Maine by further purchase of stocks. The New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad hoped to merge the two railroads with control firmly held by New York capitalists such as J. P. Morgan.

The validity of the purchase of stocks was authorized by the laws of Connecticut, but was prohibited by the laws of Massachusetts. This conflict resulted in litigation. Hearings concerning the proposed merger of the two railroads were held before the Committee on Railroads of the Massachusetts legislature. The committee questioned the legality of the stock acquisition, and inquired as to whether or not a merger would violate federal anti-trust laws. William Badger Lawrence, an attorney from Medford, Massachusetts (A.B. Harvard 1879, LL.B. Harvard Law 1882), emerged as a leader of the minority of Boston and Maine stockholders who opposed the merger. Lawrence and his father, Samuel Crocker Lawrence, were major stockholders in the Boston and Maine Railroad and were dedicated opponents of the takeover of the road by the New Haven. The anti-merger faction not only questioned the legality of the merger, but they loudly protested the possibility of a distinctly New England operation being managed outside of Boston.

The debate on the merger took several years to be resolved. The General Court of Massachusetts, at its 1909 session, authorized the incorporation of the Boston Railroad Holding Company for the sole purpose of acquiring and holding capital stock of the Boston and Maine Railroad. By 1912, the Holding Company maintained absolute control of Boston and Maine. In 1916 a federal court decided that the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad had indeed illegally acquired the Boston and Maine stock . The judge appointed five trustees to oversee the sale of the stock held by the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad. The trustees' initial charge was to complete the sale before 1918; the deadline was extended to 1920 and the sale was completed.

Physical Location



Gift of Mrs. William B. Lawrence, 1931.

Baker Library
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University Repository

Baker Library Special Collections holds unique resources that focus on the evolution of business and industry, as well as the records of the Harvard Business School, documenting the institution's development over the last century. These rich and varied collections support research in a diverse range of fields such as business, economic, social and cultural history as well as the history of science and technology.

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