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and hence are subject to innumerable restraints and limitations. The science of government and of human law is essentially a science of limitations. Every fundamental principle of government, every established rule of public policy and every wholesome statutory enactment must, in practical administration, be taken in connection with its qualifying conditions and limitations. Besides, inventions, discoveries and ever-changing conditions necessitate changes in those rules of action which preserve the harmonious course of human interaction. This status of unstable equilibrium and of limitation and restraint is inevitable from the fact that in all our social and industrial pursuits we are actuated by two opposing motives. Individuality leads men to struggle with their fellows for the acquisition of everything worth having and holding, for we live in a world in which we are all debating. On the other hand, an equally virile human trait—the social instinct-leads men to associate themselves together in co-operative enterprise. Since the world began man's faith in his fellow man was never before so pronounced as it is today. This is manifested in innumerable forms of social and industrial interaction. Out of these conflicting dispositions has sprung the habit of competition and the habit of combination. The struggle between these forces has begotten two maxims, namely, “competition is the life of trade," and, “in union there is strength.” Neither of these maxims, however, affords a safe guide in the affairs of life. In many instances competition kills trade by constriction. There are also combinations for good and combinations for evil. Many combinations perish of their own weight and lack of vitality. Besides, the life of trade is a subjective element. It has its origin and force in human intelligence, ambition and acquisitiveness. Combination and competition are
only modes of interaction. They are mutually regulative of each other. Together they operate as the balance wheel of self-government. The question before us is, therefore, one of differentiation, selection and adaptation.
If then governmental institutions, laws and carefully devised rules of public policy are all subject to limitations and restraints, is humanity forced to exclaim, “Where shall wisdom be found and where is the place of understanding ?” Are we adrift in our social, industrial and commercial interaction ? The answer is clear and sufficient to every reflecting mind. The peace and well-being of human society proceed from laws, policies and institutions which experience has proved to be for the common good of all. Out of the lessons taught by centuries and even millenniums of experiment and struggle, there have been evolved those customs and usages, those beneficent principles of government, those rules of public policy, those wholesome systems of law, those wise, judicial discriminations and those habits to which in their entirety we apply the generic term civilization. The world bows to the edicts of its own experiential knowledge. Said Patrick Henry in his immortal oration for liberty, “I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging the future but by the past." And Mr. Gladstone declared, 6. That no man should assume to be a statesman until he has learned to submit himself to the lessons of experience and the lessons of the hour.” Theories built upon the results of human experience are to a degree useful, but the idea of natural or universal law, other than moral law, is a solecism in the affairs of men.
In the excitement attending every epochal period and every popular movement for the correction of real or fancied evils, remedies essentially revolutionary and destructive in character are apt to be proposed. Such will inevitably be the case now, as attempts are being made to settle that great question the consideration of which has called together from all parts of the United States this convocation of men of learning and of large practical experience. The fundamental error which usually confronts such efforts arises from the propensity toward doctrinarianism. It is one of Renan's profound sayings that the nation which devotes itself to social problems is a lost nation. That is undoubtedly true in so far as relates to human attempts to formu. late universal law. The science of human law as evolved by the lessons of experience is, after all, the finest sociology.
The specific question presented for our consideration is that of “Trusts” as the word, by a process of misuse, has come to have significance in the public mind. The real issue relates to the manner in which and the extent to which the recent movement toward the restraint of competition through combination or through the power of aggregated capital should be limited or controlled by governmental authority. This question presents itself in innumerable forms, for there are many kinds of combinations, agreements and co-operative arrangements differing widely in character and in their constraining influence upon competition. The decision in each case depends upon the nature and force of its environing and controlling conditions.
Again it is a matter of vital importance to determine the nature and extent of proper governmental interference in the social, commercial and industrial operations of the people. The love of liberty begotten of the circumstances attending the immigration of our forefathers to these shores, their colonial experiences, and the struggles which terminated in nationalexistence led them to establish upon this continent a system of government based upon the idea of the smallest possible interference with the commercial and industrial affairs of the people. Our whole theory of government is founded upon faith in the conservatism which inheres in the untrammelled interaction of forces, a faith expressed in the motto “ In God We Trust." This faith was the guiding star of all their conceptions of selfgovernment. Thomas Jefferson was the chief apostle of that faith. In his first annual message to Congress as President he said, “ Agriculture, manufactures, commerce and navigation, the four pillars of our national prosperity, are the most thriving when left most free to individual enterprise.” The policy thus announced has, with few departures, been the guide of our national legislation and it may be regarded as the settled policy of the country. The particular subject here under consideration has therefore an exceedingly important political significance.
New forces now assert themselves and new conditions confront us. Hence the old problems concerning the restraint of competition through combination and of governmental regulation of combination present themselves under new conditions. The task which devolves upon the men of the present generation is to solve those problems, at least for our own time, upon approved principles of justice and sound public policy, and in such manner as not to disturb the sure foundations upon which our civilization and our governmental system rest. The whole question now before us, as I view it, relates to the limitations which should be imposed upon both competition and combination by the people themselves in the course of their own interaction and through beneficent governmental regulation justified by the lessons of experience. The subject runs into almost illimitable detail. The question as it touches each industry and occupation must be judged upon its particular controlling facts and conditions. It appears to me that the proper way to conduct the inquiry is for each debater to consider and discuss the merits of the particular phase of the question to which he has devoted his best efforts as student, or in the course of his business experiences. In view of the fact that my business life began as civil engineer in the construction of railroads, was continued as officer of the national government charged with the duty of investigating and reporting upon matters relating to commerce and transportation, and latterly has related to my professional work as statistician and economist, it appears proper that on this occasion I should invite your attention to the American Railway System, its evolution, the stages of its development, its efficiency the evolved law of its being, and the statutes which have been enacted for its regulation, with the special object in view of aiding in the determination of the question as to the limitations and restraints which should be imposed upon both competition and combination in the affairs of railroad transportation.
The Evolved Law of the American Railroad
System. The manner in which and the extent to which competion has been operative in the development of railroad transportation in this country, are indicated by leading facts in the history of the evolution of the American Railroad System. Such facts also indicate the manner in which and the extent to which railroad combination has been evolved by the interaction of commercial and industrial forces and by the exigencies