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or these earlier proprietors and its own grantee, upon its own grant; and appeals to the rule (first laid down by Lord Ellenborough) that, whereas a private grant is to be construed strictly against the grantor, a public grant, from a state to a subject, is to be construed strictly against the grantee! This matter (in which the Government's grantee is made that unusual character, a defendant with the burden of proof) is tried before the grantor Government, is heard by the commissioner whose decision is to be affirmed or reversed on another hearing before another employé of the grantor, the Secretary of the Interior. Or should the contesting proprietor or alleged proprietors elect to begin his or their action for trespass in the local State or Territorial court, it can be carried step by step up to the Supreme Court at Washington. As a matter of fact the reports of this court teem with these cases, wherefrom the reader can imagine something of the routine litigants have undergone to get there. All these hearings and rehearings, appeals and new trials, and further appeals, have to be attended and argued by counsel in behalf of the Government's own grantee, the defendant company. And since, should the company finally secure its title to the land the Government had already granted it, it can only sell it for two or three dollars an acre, and lawyers' bills are not apt to be prepared on a diminuendo scale, the public mind can now begin to appreciate how recklessly magnanimous a “gift” this land-grant was on the part of the Government, and the extent of Mr. Hudson's charity in being able to “make allowance" for the recipients !
But the above is not all. This gift, Mr. Hudson himself admits, has to be ratified, and legislators bribed to ratify it. He would come nearer the truth did he assert that it has to be ratified at every session of Congress. I have in my mind a company whose land grant was received considerably more than twenty years ago, and which has earned it by building and operating its entire road, and yet I doubt if the lawyers of that company could, without considerable research, mention a year in which that grant had not been a matter of attack upon the floor of Congress. Nor is it yet at rest there, although that road is oper
ating over three thousand miles of trackage. Mr. Hudson says that the men who receive these dubious “gifts of empire,” “bribe legislators and buy up public officials,” to prevent adverse action as to the ratification. Doubtless he knows of what he speaks. Our legislators are elected by the people, and to the people they are responsible. But the fact that our legislators do not, as a rule, allow land-grant questions to rest, and are constantly demanding adverse action, even in cases as old as the one I have just referred to, does not look as if land-grant companies had largely added to the expense of receiving their already costly present of lands by large “bribes to legislators and purchase of public officials"; for certainly they have not prevented adverse action upon these grants to any very memorable extent.
Mr. Hudson speaks of money-grants as well as land-grants to a transcontinental railroad. In the throes of a bloody civil war it is to the eternal credit of one patriotic Congress that it did vote a loan to a transcontinental railway company to enable it to connect the shores of two oceans whose communications otherwise were at the mercy of pirates and privateers, fitted out by a rival nation, interested in driving our commerce from every sea. But, with the necessity, the policy ceased forever. In other cases, to make their heavily purchased “gifts” available, the plan of mortgaging them was resorted to. They have been so mortgaged, and, on the faith of the Government, the bonds secured by these mortgages are now held by this people; this republicwhose enemies, Mr. Hudson will have us believe, all railways are. Nor is it a figure of speech to say, in this case not only, but in every case of a railroad upon which a mortgage is spread, that so far from the railway being the enemy, it is the creature of the republic, for the republic is the people, and the people, by owning the securities of a railway, own the railway itself. Mr. Hudson may fire the popular heart of the non-investor by his periods ; but if, perchance, he desires more than this, he can not yet claim to have found either a place to stand, or a fulcrum for his lever,
COMPANIES, REBATES, FAST
Pools are combinations of railways at once with and against each other, never against the public, or (if Mr. Hudson prefers) the republic. The name is unfortunate, as suggesting a pot or lump, whereas, in fact, the pool is an elaborate system of differentiation and equating, by which railroads practically pay into the pool, not their lumped receipts, but percentages thereof. These pools are the legitimate and necessary results of the rechartering over and over again of railway companies to transact business between the same points, by paralleling each other. So long as the people in their legislatures will thus charter parallel lines serving identical points—thus dividing territory they once granted entire-it is not exactly clear how they can complain if the lines built (by money invested if not on the good faith of the people, at least in reliance upon an undivided business) combine to save themselves from bankruptcy. Without such combination the strongest company must bankrupt and “gobble” the others, which survival of the fittest would be exactly what Mr. Hudson declaims and deprecates—a Monopoly ; and this time a most grasping and cruel one, since the first aim of the surviving road must logically be to recoup itself for the tremendous
of the “gobble” by extravagant overcharges! Had a pooling system existed at the date of its birth, the Standard Oil Company octopus could never have grown up. And it is interesting reading—as Joe Gargery would say—to find our Mr. Hudson snarling on one page at railways because they render such monopolies as the Standard Oil Company possible, and, on the next, cursing pools as against public interest. And not only are pools safeguards against private monopolies, but, as against the “ tie-up”
and the boycott, bound to become the needed, possibly the only, antidote if not the only relief, possible. Individuals may, and no doubt do, from geographical conditions, suffer from the absence of competition which pools guarantee. Doubtless a shipper at Buffalo could make better terms to New York were five trunk lines engaged in the suicidal pastime of cutting each other's throats. But the greatest good of the greatest number is subserved by an honest rate, and that the pool secures to it.
Mr. Joseph Nimmo, Jr., late Chief of the United States Government Bureau of Statistics, (not a railroad man nor interested in railways) summarizes the effect of pooling combinations as follows :
First. They have been instrumental in preventing unjust discriminations through special secret rates to favored shippers, and the consequent demoralization of trade.
Second. They have prevented many unjust and ruinous discriminations against towns and cities, and against particular States or sections of the country.
Third. They have put a stop to violently fluctuating rates.
Fourth. They have had the effect of protecting the weaker lines and of preventing their absorption by the stronger lines, and thus of conserving elements of competition in transportation.
Fifth. By preventing the absorption of the weaker by the stronger lines, they have prevented the threatened danger to the country of its being districted among a few great corporations, by which means the regulating influence of the competition to trade forces would have been eliminated, and transportation would have gotten the mastery of trade.
Sixth. They have tended to prevent those shocks to the financial interest of the country which generally accompany the bankruptcy of great railroad corporations.
Seventh. Since they have been adopted the railroad transportation facilities of the country have been greatly extended. The volume of traffic has also enormously increased, and rates have constantly fallen. These facts seem to prove that railroad federation has not had the effect of obstructing the beneficial operation of the overruling competition of trade forces and of the direct competition between transportation lines. Statistics herein before presented clearly indicate this fact.
But Mr. Hudson on almost every one of his six hundred pages persists in treating the “pool” as meaning a corner in transportation, nothing more and nothing less. He gloats over this definition, tells us that though the rich man has more iron than he wants the poor man cannot have bread because the pool has cornered transportation so that that iron cannot be converted into cash so that the poor man can get his trifle of that cash to buy bread with for his starving family (p. 249), and makes other like statements, which, deliberately and disgustingly false as they are, may yet be quoted by the Socialists and Anarchists for whose applause Mr. Hudson constantly and flagrantly caters. It needs but the most superficial examination of the matter to know that Mr. Hudson's statements are utterly false. That a pool is not a corner in transportation but a careful joint system whose operation must necessarily tend to the benefits which Mr. Nimmo catalogues. Mr. Hudson himself even, if he would reflect, would see that two, or six or a dozen railway companies could not combine to put up transportation rates without cutting their own throats. Supposing that the only three railway companies in a territory should refuse to move grain unless at a prohibitive rate of a dollar a bushel—what would result ? What indeed, except that the railways would have no business for their hands to do? Mr. Hudson says (p. 324) that it is a practical maxim among business men that to quarrel with the railways is commercial suicide. Perhaps. But if it is, certainly the converse is not untrue; for the railways to quarrel with the business of their territory cannot be of large advantage to the railways.
Construction companies are conservers of time and capital at once to the public and to the railway builder. If a railway between two given points be needed at all, it is needed as soon as possible. The construction company, by procuring the capital, obviates the delay of resorting to individual subscriptions, and the dilatoriness of small subscribers; and, by securing a rapid building and equipment of the desired road, serves the public by affording them