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ALLEGED COMBINATION OF TRUNK LINES ATTACKED: 1876
There remains one episode further in the congressional history of railways which should be brought into connection with the Granger movement, not only from its nature, but also from its outcome. On March 20, 1876, Mr. Hopkins (Pa.) introduced a bill to regulate commerce and to prohibit unjust discriminations by common carriers. It was referred to the committee on commerce, and no further record of it is to be found. The writer has not found the words of this bill, but it seems probable that it was directed against conditions set forth in a resolution presented at the same session by the same man.38 “Whereas it is alleged that certain of the leading railroads engaged in interstate commerce, and in commerce from the inland States to the sea-board for exportation have combined for the purpose of controlling said traffic, 39 and have made and continue to make unjust discriminations
; and whereas numerous petitions have been presented during the present session of Congress praying for the passage of an act to regulate such commerce and to prohibit such discrimination
Resolved, that the Committee on Commerce investigate the allegations aforesaid." Thus the subject concerned was partly, at least, the east-bound grain traffic and the Granger situation.
But notice what became of the investigation. Eight years later, in debating the regulation of interstate commerce Mr. Hopkins said: “In the first session of the Fourty-fourth Congress I introduced a bill to regulate interstate commerce
And soon thereafter I secured the passage of a resolution instructing the Committee on Commerce to investigate the charges of favoritism and combination by railroad companies. That investigation proceeded far enough to prove specific acts of gross discrimination. But by some process, never yet explained, the investigation was smothered at a critical juncture, and the testimony already taken disappeared from the commit
& H. Jr., 1875-76, p. 999.
30 In Dec., 1875, and Mch., 1876, temporary agreements were reached between competing trunk lines; but for the most part this was a period of cut throat competition. Doubtless there were constant rumors of combination. Sce Adams, Railroads, Their Origin and Problems.
tee room. This assertion was not denied, nor did it excite much comment. We are left to draw the inference that the fate of the investigation was not extraordinary and—though it is to be hoped that there are modifying factors unknown to us-it seems a sad commentary on the legislative tactics of the rail. ways.
DISCUSSION AND SUMMARY
The social and economic reasons which brought on the Granger Movement found most ready and marked expression in state legislatures and courts; but, as was resolved in a northwestern platform of 1873, the Grangers would not aid in elevating a man to any public position unless he was ready to annul chartered privileges or vested rights used to the detriment of the public welfare,41 and it was a part of their plan to work through Congress.
The one great end of the movement at its outset was cheap transportation. Three chief means of securing that end were brought forward: (1) improvement and construction of inland waterways, (2) construction of national freight railways, either standard-gauge, double-track or narrow-gauge, (3) regulation of existing lines. The last mentioned means was not direct enough to suit the spirit of the Granger and was regarded as a sort of palliative. Discrimination was not infrequently complained of but did not become the great issue till later in the Seventies.
Competition was the force relied upon to secure the desired result. The government railways and waterways proposed were to compete with existing lines and break monopoly; regulation was to do away with monopoly. But the large element which the reduction of rates through improved construction and financial methods formed in the congressional discussion-a thoroughly justifiable and enlightened agitation-seems to have been much
40 Cong Rec., 1884-85. p. 63.
42 For typical Gronger speeches favoring regulation see remarks of Kasson (Ia.), Cong. Globe, 1873-74, Append., p. 163; and by Loughbridge (ia.). Ibid., p. 6.
overlooked. Many of those who recommended competition believed that the force must be controlled by a power with which combination would be impossible and must operate through more cheap and efficient channels than the existing ones.43 And there were a few who saw that effective railway competition was impossible.44
The movement came just at the time when water and land were competing on fairly equal terms. The growing use of steel rails, and other improvements in technics and organization had steadily reduced railway rates for a number of years prior to 1872, and the railway was taking a larger proportion of the traffic; but lakes, rivers, and canals still carried a large part and did it at a lower cost. Thus, when, in 1872, the steady reduction was checked and freight rates were quite generally advanced while prices for wheat and corn were low it was natural to turn to waterways.
As the Granger movement came before the power of Congress to regulate railways—“the private railway corporations of the states," as they were sometimes called—was generally conceded, it was natural, too, that relief should be sought through congressional incorporation. It was common for men who held that Congress could not regulate the rates of railways to agi. tate the creation of National corporations for constructing rail. ways or waterways, corporations under direct control of the government." Yet this proposition is the more radical. It came into great prominence during the Granger agitation.
In connection with the east-bound grain traffic it should be remembered that a considerable part was for export. Questions of differentials, ocean freight rates, etc., were involved, then as now.
The place of the Granger movement in the growth of railway regulation is fairly well understood. It brought about a truer relation of the railway to the public; it taught railway officials that they were administering public highways; it taught the
43 Rep. of Sen. Select Committee on Trans. Routes to the Seaboard, p. 242. 4 E. g., Loughbridge (Ia.). Cong. Rec., 1873-74, Append., p. 6.
45 See e. 9., Cong. Rec., 1873-74, pp. 772, 775. (Senators Oglesby (III.) and Clayton).
public that railway property was entitled to reasonable profits. In connection with this idea, however, should be placed the recognition of the force of this movement in opening the way for national regulation. The West has never been imbued with the states' rights idea as have the East and South and has always tended to take a nationalistic attitude toward political problems. The question of railway legislation was deeply involved with this political question and the attitude of the people of the West was important. They readily stood for federal power and federal railway regulation. State boundaries did not mean so much to them: the transportation in which they were vitally interested passed through many states to its eastern and southern destinations—was interstate; they had not the political predilections of the older states; but, above all, their economic interests made federal interference imperative. 46
4' For strong statement of this attitude of the West see speech by Mr. Hazelton (Wis.) in Cong. Rec., 1873-74, p. 2147, circa. It is illustrative of the opportunist character of the economic politics of modern times that in not a few instances the Grangers assumed the garb of States' rights. This was when they hoped to secure results from State regulation and feared Congressional interference.--See above in Chap. II.
REGULATION OF LIVESTOCK TRAFFIC; FIRST POSI
TIVE REGULATION OF INTERSTATE COMMERCE
Hardly second to state obstructions as an effective cause of early railway regulation was the cruel and disease-breeding treatment of animals shipped over railways. By the time of the early Seventies the livestock traffic from the western and especially the southwestern states had become important, and when, to man's common disregard for the comfort of his dumb animals, the pressure of violent rate wars was added at about this time, the condition of livestock shipments became deplorable and sickening. As early as 1870 there was introduced in the House by Mr. Wilson (0.) a bill to prevent cruelty to animals in transit by railway. The bill was referred to the committee on agriculture.
THE FIRST BILL FOR REGULATING LIVESTOCK TRAFFIC
The report of the committee favored a measure in the nature of a substitute. It provided that no railway company whose road formed any part of a line over which cattle, sheep, swine, or other animals would be conveyed from one state to another,nor the owners or masters of vessels transporting interstate shipments of this kind,-should confine them in cars, boats, or vessels of any description for a longer period than twenty-eight consecutive hours without unloading them for at least five consecutive hours for rest, water, and feeding, unless prevented by storm or other accidental cause. The penalty for violation was a fine for each offense.
1 The report on the Internal Commerce of the U. S. for 1879, p. 177, men. tions that at one time cattle were shipped from Chicago to Pittsburg free, and, in some instances, to the coast for $5.00 a car. This was far below cost, the rate on Dec. 1, 1879, being $110 per car.