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to membership in the higher council. In case a state lies partly in one and partly in another interstate district, the Secretary of Commerce or other officer might designate the proportion of representation to be allotted to each part, in accordance with law. The proceedings should also be public and published by the government. The Interstate Commerce Commission, every member of which should be made ex officio a member of the interstate councils, might supervise the publication of proceedings.
The aim of the suggested plan is obvious, – to represent all the varied interests of our population in an advisory capacity, in the conduct of our railways. These councils are to be clearing houses of information through which the railways and the public will learn to know each other's interests better, and through which the material interests of both of these great parties will be built up in accordance with principles of justice and equity. Every attempt to interfere in the purely business management of a railway should be resisted; but every attempt on the part of a railway to disregard the just rights of the public should likewise be promptly checked and thoroughly ventilated in the councils. The authenticated facts which such councils can bring together and the publicity which is to be given them cannot help but exert a powerful influence in educating the public in railway affairs and enlighten the railways on the interests of the public. By giving councils only advisory powers, the legal responsibility still remains where it belongs, — in the hands of the railway officials. The advice and recommendations of councils need not be followed, but at the next meeting of the council the manager in question can be called upon to give the reasons for his action; and with wellinformed representatives about him, nothing but the truth can prevail. In this lies one of the greatest benefits to be derived from such a scheme, and it is difficult to conceive of a more potent factor in protecting the railways against each other, and in visiting obloquy upon the one weak or unscrupulous manager who persists in defeating the best plans of the one hundred who would adhere to principles of justice without legal compulsion.
The Secretary of Commerce and Labor has been mentioned in several connections, assuming that such a new cabinet office is to be created. It is to be hoped that such will be the case, and the proposed system of railway advisory councils be given a place in this new cabinet office. Should, however, Congress not see fit to establish a department of commerce, the suggested councils could nevertheless be fitted into the present order of things by making the Interstate Commerce Commission the head of the advisory system. The Commission, being hard worked already, could perhaps exercise only directive and supervisory powers over the 1 Such a department has now been established.
councils, but some officer in the offices of the Commission, or to be added to the Commission, could be intrusted with the detailed management of the council system. The council system, as proposed, fits into the present order of things. There is nothing radical or disorganizing about it. It simply aims to bring together into one harmonious system the various isolated, independent efforts which have long been made by many railways in the United States and by private organizations. It aims to do systematically and well what is now attempted without system, in a manner more or less one-sided.
Institutional history is largely the history of transplanted custom and law. The most fundamental institutions of American civilization find their origin in the remote history of European peoples, and scores of existing statutes, state and federal, are mere adaptations of foreign law to conditions in the United States. The suggested plan for railway councils is in harmony with this feature of our civic development. Advisory councils have been in successful operation in various countries, and any one who will take the trouble to look into their history will probably be convinced of their efficiency and beneficence. While most contemporary systems of councils exist in connection with state railways, the advisory system finds its origin in private initiative. About the time our granger agitation had reached its zenith, and when the Hamlet of the play had made his appearance in the form of the Potter law of Wisconsin, the Chamber of Commerce of the city of Mülhausen arranged for a conference between its representatives and representatives of a railway upon which that city was largely dependent. The result of the conference was so encouraging that it attracted the attention of a high state official, who immediately recognized the intrinsic merits of the plan and took action with the view of embodying its principles in a permanent institution. “This arrangement," says the minister in a circular letter, "primarily strives to establish intimate connection between the places intrusted with the administration of the railways and the trading classes. It will keep the representatives of the railways better informed as to the changing needs of trade and industry and maintain a continued understanding between them; and, on the other hand, it will impart to commerce, etc., a greater insight into the peculiarities of the railway business and the legitimate demands of the administration, and consequently, by means of earnest and moderate action, it will react beneficially upon both sides through an exchange of views.” It was only a few years later, in 1882, when Prussia established her system of advisory councils, which twenty years of experience has demonstrated to be most excellent. There are circuit councils and a national council, the former constituting advisory bodies of the different railway directories in whose hands legal responsibility rests, and the latter being advisory to the Minister of Public Works, who is the highest legally responsible railway officer. The circuit councils are more local in their nature and vary in size from about twenty-five to three times that number. Membership is chiefly elective. The national council is composed of forty members, of whom ten are appointed by the Minister of Public Works and thirty elected by the circuit councils. The councils may be called upon to deliver opinions on questions submitted to them by the proper officials, and they may, in turn, institute inquiries and make recommendations on their own motion. They have no legal power over the administration of railways, except in this advisory capacity, and full freedom is granted to railway officials to act as they deem best in the management of railway properties.
Japan was the next country to establish an advisory council by law. The Japanese council is composed of not more than twenty persons, representing the cabinet departments, both houses of Parliament and, for special purposes, members with limited tenure, who serve as experts in the council. The powers of the council relate to questions of location, construction, financiering, and operation. While the department of communication and other branches of the government may direct inquiries to the council, the latter may also act on its own initiative and bring its conclusions and findings before the proper officials. A comparison of Japanese with Prussian councils shows important differences in their composition. Under