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INTRODUCTION.

THE history of inland transportation in the United States when approached from the point of view of the modern railroad problem, naturally divides itself into four periods. The first of these periods came to a close about 1830; the second extends from 1830 to 1850; the third from 1850 to 1870; and the fourth from 1870 to the present time. It will be of great assistance to one who desires to understand the railroad problem and its bearing upon social, political, and industrial questions, to glance for a moment at the characteristic features of each of these periods; nor is there any way in which a special treatise like the one here presented, which deals with the railroad legislation of the State of Iowa, can so well be understood as by giving to this legisla tion its proper historic setting.

The attention of early statesmen was first called to the importance of internal improvements by the necessity of uniting the territory lying on the east and on the west of the Alleghany Mountains, by the strong bonds of commercial interests. This was very early recognized by George Washington. Before the Revolutionary War was brought to a close, he proposed a canal through central New York, and later urged upon Governor Harrison of Virginia the importance of connecting the Potomac and the Ohio Rivers. His letter on this

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point, though by no means unfamiliar, may be appropriately quoted in this connection:

"I need not remark to you" (wrote he to Governor Harrison of Virginia) "that the flanks and rear of the United States are possessed by other powers, formidable ones too; and how necessary it is to apply the cement of interest to bind all parts of the Union together by indissoluble bonds, especially that part of it which lies immediately west of us, with the Middle States. For what ties, let me ask, have we upon the people (in the Mississippi Valley)? How entirely unconnected with them shall we be, and what troubles may we not apprehend, if the Spaniards on their right, and Great Britain on their left, instead of throwing stumbling-blocks in their way, as they now do, should hold out lures for their trade and alliance? What, when they gain strength, which will be sooner than most people conceive (from the emigration of foreigners who will have no particular predilection for us, as well as the removal of our own citizens), will be the consequences of their having formed close connections with either or both of these powers in a commercial way? It needs not, in my opinion, the gift of prophecy to foretell."

The first systematic plan of internal improvements was drawn by Albert Gallatin, and submitted to the United States Senate in 1808. The United States at this time was in possession of a surplus, owing to the form into which the Federal debt had been thrown by the refunding scheme of Alexander Hamilton. This plan of the greatest of American financiers must be regarded as the most comprehensive of any plan for internal improvement ever devised in this country, the distribution of population and the condition of industries at the time it was presented being taken into consideration. It proposed continuous inland navigation from Massachusetts to North Carolina, and a turnpike

road from Maine to Georgia; it proposed that the four Atlantic rivers, the Susquehanna, the Potomac, the James, and the Santee, and the four corresponding rivers on the west of the mountains, the Alleghany, the Monongahela, the Kanawha, and the Tennessee, should be canalized to the highest practicable points, and these points connected by roads over the mountains. A canal was to be constructed to the Falls of the Ohio, and roads built to Detroit, St. Louis, and New Orleans; it was proposed to connect the Hudson River with Lake Champlain and with Lake Ontario, and to build a canal about Niagara Falls. In addition to these, local improvements of less national importance found place in this comprehensive scheme.1 To interpret Gallatin's plan for internal improvements would necessitate a discussion of the controversies going on at this time within the party to which the secretary belonged. Of one point there can be no doubt; and that is, that in addition to the political interests involved in commercial intercourse between the various parts of the United States, the commercial importance of inland communication was also recognized.

Gallatin's scheme came to nothing. Had no other interests been arrayed against it, the approach of the war of 1812 would have thwarted the plan; and it was not until about 1820 that the people again turned their attention to the question of internal improvements. From 1820 to 1830 popular enthusiasm for the development of highways at the expense of the Federal treasury was intense. Many bills were introduced into Congress, and some were passed by that body, for the 1 Adams, "Life of Gallatin," p. 350.

appropriation of moneys to build highways and canals; and, what may seem strange at the present time, no one ventured to utter the criticism upon this policy that it was an encroachment upon the domain of private enterprise. It was thought by many, however, that the Constitution did not give Congress adequate authority to undertake such enterprise.

In 1822 President Monroe vetoed what is known as the Cumberland-Road Bill, yet he was a warm supporter of the policy of improvements under the patronage of the Federal government. It was the veto by President Jackson of the Maysville-Road Bill, however, that brought the policy of public improvements under the direct control of the Federal government to a close. The significant fact for one who is studying the railroad problem at the present time is, that previous to 1830 there existed no considerable sentiment in this country in favor of the building and managing of public highways through the agency of private corporations.

The second period to which a complete study of the development of internal improvements in the United. States would draw the attention of the student extends from 1830 to 1850. The vetoes of Presidents Monroe and Jackson did not cool the ardor of the people for highways at public expense, the full effect of these vetoes being to change the agency upon which the people relied for securing this end. The individual. States were now imposed with the duty of doing what, according to a strict interpretation of the Constitution, it was thought the Federal government could not do. For many reasons which cannot here be narrated, the States formulated plans which were wholly out of pro

portion to the resources at their command; and, as is well known to every student of history, their efforts resulted in most cases in the bankruptcy of the States. It would be too much to say, however, that the experience of the States during this period is conclusive against the policy of government ownership of railroads and canals in this country. Were there no other reason that might be urged against such a conclusion, the fact that the opinion of engineers respecting the means of attaining cheap transportation underwent an entire change, would present an adequate explanation of the failure of the policies of the States. In 1830 railroads were unknown; in 1850 reliance upon canals had been abandoned.

The purpose of this sketch, however, is to trace the development of public opinion respecting the relation of government to the means of internal communication, and on that account any excursus upon the peculiar conditions of this second period would be out of place. The important fact is, that no jealousy of the ownership and management of highways by government existed in the United States until about 1840, although from this time on a sentiment adverse to public ownership and control grew with great rapidity. The origin of such a sentiment was due, in the first place, to the failure of the policy of internal improvements by the States, and to the fact that the people found themselves under the necessity of paying taxes to liquidate bonds for which they had received no substantial return. It was due, in the second place, to the fact that men were beginning to appreciate the importance of a corporate organization of business. Many of the constitutions of

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