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This is the first difterence to which I desire to call the attention of the House. Upon it I suggest that if we make a discrimination as to the allowance of rebates and drawbacks, and the pooling of freights and other matters named in the bill, an offense, why shall we say that unjust charges against shippers shall be less of an offense? The proposition seems to me so clear that the substitute bill is superior in its equities to the committee's bill that I do not deem it necessary to consume the time of the House by discussing that point any further.
Under the sixth section of the committee's bill the liability of a railroad company to any person suffering wrong by their action is the actual damages sustained; while under the seventh section of the substitute bill persons violating the provisions of the bill would be liable in three times the amount of damages sustained. This is a difference of some considerable moment, and I deem it best here to call attention to the reasons which induced me to believe that triple damages in such cases ought to be allowed. Wealthy litigants may be able to combat the railroad corporations in the courts of the country; but the great mass of persons who would be liable to injury by the discrimination and improper conduct of these corporations are unable to contest with them in the courts. They are unable to fee lawyers, pay their wituesses, and lose the time necessary to attend to courts if it can be avoided. But the railroad corporations have almost habitually, where suits were brought against them, undertaken to delay decisions and deter parties from the institution of suits by prolonging litigation. Their wealth, power, and influence are sufficient to enable them to do so. It is fair, therefore, it seems to me, when they provoke litigation by their conduct, to say that they shall pay three times the damages arising from their unlawful action. At the common law they would be liable for actual damages sustained; but at the common law, as has been found in the State of New York and elsewhere, private litigants are unable to contend with the railroad corporations; and it has been developed during past sessions of Congress, and was developed in the great legislative investigation in the State of New York, that men injured by the unlawful acts of these corporations were afraid to institute suits against them in order to bring them to justice for fear of their power to discriminate further against them and inflict upon them irremediable wrong. So that, all things considered, it seems to me that it is right and proper to give triple damages instead of simple common law damages to the actual amount of damage sustained. But I do not propose so much to elaborate these points now as simply to present the differences between the bills, so that gentlemen who participate in the discussion may consider them as we proceed.
Mr. LONG. Will not the gentleman refer to the provision in the committee's bill to meet just that point with regard to the allowing of costs? * Mr. REAGAN. I will read that provision of the committee's bill and will also read the provision of the substitute bill on the same subject. The committee's bill provides :
SEC, 6. That any railroad company, officer of such company, or other person who shall violate any of the provisions of this act shall be liable to any person injured for the actual damages caused by such violation, which may be recorered in any State or United States court of competent jurisdiction. The court before which any such action is tried, if it shall be found that the violation was willful, or continued after the notice provided by the tenth section of this act, shall make an allowance by way of additional costs to the party injured sufficient to cover all his counsel and attorney fees, and all expenses and disbursements in the action, including his own necessary personal expenses.
I will now read a part of the seventh section of the substitute bill: That each and every act, matter, or thing in this act declared to be unlawful is hereby prohibited, and in case any person or persons as defined in this act engaged as aforesaid shall do, sutter, or permit to be done, any act, matter, or thing in this act prohibited or forbidden, or shall omit to do any act, matter, or thing in this act required to be done, or shall be guilty of any violation of the provisions of this act, such person or persons shall forfeit and pay to the person or persons who may sustain damage thereby a sum equal to three times the amount of the damages so sustained, to be recovered by the person or persons so damaged by suit in any State or United States cours of competent jurisdiction where the person or persons causing such damage can be found or may have an agent, office, or place of business; and if the court before which any such action is tried shall be of opinion that the violation of the law was willful, it shall make an allowance, by way of additional costs, to the party injured sufficient to cover all his counsel and attorney fees.
Omitting the part about his personal expenses that is in the committee's bill, I have read the two sections in order that the difference between them may be seen by members in proceeding with the discussion.
The committee's bill in its remedial provisions only provides legal remedies, while the substitute bill provides both legal and equitable remedies. There is a reference to equitable powers in the committee's bill, but that is not in relation to the remedial provisions of the bill but only in relation to those provisions which concern a commission and the action of a commission in determining questions between the Gorernment and wrongdoers and not between a citizen and a wrong. doer. I will call attention to a further part of the seventh section of the substitute bill, beyond what I have just read in connection with this provision about conferring equitable powers in connection with the remedial provisions of the bill:
Any action to be brought as aforesaid may be considered, and if so brought shall be regarded as a subject of equity jurisdiction and discovery, and affirmative relief may be sought and obtained iherein. In any such action so bronght as a case of equitable cognizance as aforesaid, any director, officer, receiver, or trustee of any corporation or company aforesaid, or any receiver, trustee, or person aforesaid, or any agent of any such corporation or company, receiver, trustee, or person aforesaid, or of any of them, alone or with any other person or persons, party or parties, may and shall be compelled to attend, appear, and testify and give evidence; and no claim that any such testimony or evidence might or might not tend to criminate the person testifying or giving evidence shall be of any avail, but such evidence or testimony shall not be used as against such person on the trial of any indictment against him.
And it goes on then to extend the provisions of the Revised Statutes in regard to compelling the attendance of witnesses and the production of books, papers, and contracts, and generally gives all the powers of a court of equity for compelling discovery. I will not read the whole of the section. It is the seventh section of the substitute.
This provision that I have in part read I esteem a very important part of any legislation that may secure to the people proper remedies in cases like these. Some years back in looking to the action of State Legislatures I had occassion to see that very wholesome provisions of State legislation had not been carried into effect because of the difficulty of furnishing the testimony necessary to sustain actions. Violations of duty and the law by these corporations are generally within the knowledge of their agents and covered by their books; and in a proceeding at law against them if you call upon them or their agents to testify or to produce their books you can not compel it, unless some provision of the statute is made to enable the compulsion of such parties to testify and produce their books. You may enact the best possible provisions, but if you take away from the courts the power to compel the
officers and agents of these corporations to testify, and take away from the courts the power to compel them to produce their books and papers, in many, perhaps a great majority, of the cases that would arise you could not produce conviction. But if you can open the mouths of their officers and agents and compel them to testify and go to their books for the facts which those books disclose, you may convict them of unlawful practices. So I have thought that this provision was an essential feature of any measure that would prevent a disregard of the rights of the people in connection with the transportation of their interstate commerce. At present I do not propose to enlarge on the subject, but simply to call attention to what is required in connection with these remedial provisions, and to the fact that such provision is not found in the committee's bill, as I remember it, connected with its remedial provisions.
It will be understood that I make a distinction between remedial provisions and those which relate to the action of a commission acting chiefly between the Government and the companies, and not between aggrieved individuals and the wrongdoers.
The fourth distinctive difference between the two bills is that the committee's bill does not prohibit the railroad companies from charging more for a shorter than for a longer haul, while the substitute bill does prohibit such charges. This is a very important difference, to which I wish to call especially the attention of the House. It is one that received a good deal of consideration on the part of the committee and upon which there was serious difference of opinion. It was in evidence before the Forty-fifth Congress that a car-load of ordinary freight sent from Omaha to San Francisco was charged for at the rate of $300 per carload, while a car-load of like freight sent from Omaha to Virginia City or the Palisades, six hundred miles this side of San Francisco, was charged $800; so that for six hundred miles less haul $500 more was charged upon a car- load of freight.
It is only necessary to state this proposition in order that the monstrous wrong of such a system of charges may be realized. It will be seen that the only reason these extortionate rates were adopted was because there was no competition, and the people of Nevada were helpless to protect themselves. It appeared in evidence also that the rates between San Francisco and Virginia City or the Palisades were greatly more than the through rates between Omaha and San Francisco. I give this as a strong illustration of the wrong of the principle of allowing a corporation to charge more for a car-load of freight for a shorter than a longer distance. But, I take it, it is within the knowledge of every member of this House, I care not where he may come from, that it is habitual to charge more for short hauls than for long, where there is no competition to protect the people against improper exactions of that kind.
The argument made in answer to this proposition is that from competing points prices must necessarily be lower than from non-competing points, and that by allowing these discriminations in favor of the long as against short hauls, Western produce is brought nearer to the Eastern markets. Now, I want to call the attention of the House to a fact which I beg may be investigated by all who feel an interest in looking into this precise question. The substitute bill is based upon a principle which renders that description of discrimination unnecessary, and at the same time gives to the people whose freight requires a long haul all the advantages that they can reasonably desire. In the very first
Congress in which we had proof on this subject before us the fact was disclosed that flour could be sent from Saint Louis or Chicago through Pittsburgh to the city of Philadelphia cheaper than it could be sent from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia; and a similar statement may be made with reference to points in the interior part of New York. The fact is now developed that it is the practice of the railroad corporations to attempt to grasp more business than legitimately belongs to them by low rates of freight from competing points. The substitute bill which I have offered means to prevent this and to compel these corporations to rely upon the business which legitimately belongs to them.
In connection with this matter I desire to put this question to the good judgment and common fairness of the House: Is it right that a man at a non-competing point shall pay two or three times the rightful cost of the transportation of his freights in order to enable a railroad corporation to procure business at competing points at lower rates than it can afford, thus procuring freight to which it has no legitimate right? To answer this question in the affirmative is to base one wrong upon another, instead of meeting the ends of justice. It can not be insisted that common fairness and common honesty require one man to pay for the freight of another. There is no justice, no fairness, no honesty in saying that one man shall be compelled to pay the cost of carrying the merchandise of another.
But the framework of the substitute bill obviates, as I have said, the very difficulties which here arise in the minds of gentlemen in opposition to it. In the first place, the provisions of the substitute bill require that for a given amount of freight of a given quality no more shall be charged for a shorter than for a longer distance. In settling upon this principle we have from the start found serious difficulty. This difficulty grew out of the impossibility of arriving at a precisely equitable basis on this subject. We recognize the fact that the railroad companies can not load and unload freight and carry it for short distances at as cheap a rate per mile as they can for long distances; and the object in framing the bill was, while protecting the people against wrong, to guard also these corporations against wrong. In the framework of the substitute bill, which in this respect is the same bill that passed the House during the Forty-fifth Congress, we allow the corporations to continue to discriminate in favor of long hauls, and to discriminate to the extent of the whole difference of distance. We simply say that the companies shall not charge more, for instance, for a given amount of freight for 100 miles or 500 miles than they do for 1,000 miles. But there is nothing in the bill which will prevent them from charging as much for the short haul as for the longer haul. Thus they will have all the latitude of discrimination that distance gives them; and justice can not require more. Indeed, the difficulty of getting a better basis of adjustment induced us to go farther in allowing this measure of discrimination than we thought was equitable. To this I think there can hardly be a successful answer.
Mr. Speaker, I beg to call the attention of those gentlemen who have objected to the proposition on that ground that there is nothing in the substitute bill submitted by me which prevents the railroad companies from charging as low a rate if the bill shall become a law as they can charge now without the bill becoming a law. We do not pretend to regulate their rates, to say whether they shall charge much or little. We do not ask that. We do not propose in any way to embarrass them in their lawful and rightful action, but simply to abridge, to cut off, to do
away so far as possible by legislation with the abuses which have char-
It has been said this legislation was sought in hostility to the rail-
Now, then, I have said there was nothing in the bill preventing railroal corporations charging as low a rate for the transportation of freight as they may wish, but there is this provision in the bill: that they shall not between intermediate points charge a higher rate than for the whole distance. What right has Saint Louis or Chicago or Galveston or any other place in the Union to say that in their interest you must permit freights to be carried from those places to the great entrepôts of commerce for less rates, at a less price, at less cost than they can be carried for for one-fourth of thedistance? In God's name when they can get them carried for those longer distances at as low a price as they can be carried for shorter and intermediate distances, when they can have their freights carried two or three times farther distance, they ought to be contented, it seems to me. They ought not to go further and demand that these railroad corporations shall carry their freights 1,000 or 2,000 miles at a cheaper rate than they can be carried for 100 or 200 miles.
I invite those who combat my views on this subject to meet me be-
Surely the citizen of Chicago can not complain if he gets his freight