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It is well known to Senators that the great competition which the wheat-growers of the United States are now subjected to, is from India. Wheat is now transported from the principal ports of India, Bombay, and Kurrachee, to Liverpool at 16 cents a bushel, which is the exact price now charged from Chicago to Liverpool, and this wheat is carried over the Indian railways from the interior grain centers of India to the seaboard at prices as low in the aggregate as are now charged the farmers of Dakota and Minnesota to Chicago. In other words, so far as the question of transportation is concerned, the farmers of India are to-day in a state of absolute equality with the farmers of the Northwest in competing for the English market. If through freights are to be advanced how can the farmers of Minvesota and Dakota hope to compete with the ryots of India in wheat-producing, when wages for agricultural laborers in the latter country are from 3 to 6 cents per day?
Mr. CONGER. Will the Senator allow me to ask a question ?
Mr. CONGER. If Dakota, Kansas, and the extreme Western States can not compete with the Indian wheat and with labor in India at a transportation rate of 20 cents a bushel, how can the farmers of Michigan and Ohio and Pennsylvania live and raise wheat and compete with the same wheat grown in India at a transportation rate of 40 cents a bushel, a higher rate on the shorter route?
Mr. ALDRICH. I know of no railroad company-and I have had occasicn to give considerable study to railroad tariffs—that charges the farmers of Michigan and of Ohio and of Illinois more for transporting a bushel of wheat than they do the farmers of Minnesota and Dakota.
Mr. CONGER. Then what objection is there, if they do not do it in fact, to having it in the bill that they shall not do it?
Mr. ALDRICĂ. There would be no objection if you stopped there, but at the same time you fix a rate for Ohio and Indiana and Illinois; you fix an inflexible rate at every railroad station in the United States without regard to conditions. If you will put into this bill, in definite terms, that no greater charge shall be made for carrying wheat from Michigan, Indiana, or Illinois to New York than is charged for transportation from Dakota to New York I will vote for it. If that was all there was in the fourth section it would have my hearty support; but it means a great deal more. What I find fault with is that in order to cure evils which are apparent to the farmers of Illinois or Michigan, you propose to demoralize the whole commerce of the country; you propose to establislı an arbitrary, unjust, unreasonable, impracticable rule, which, while it will do what you say, will do much more.
The evils you complain of can be cured in a great many other ways.
Mr. CONGER. Does the Senator believe in any event, and does his argument lead justiy to such a conclusion, that it is proper to charge the wheat-grower of Michigan any greater sum for carrying his wheat to the markets of the world-say at New York-over the same road, 500 miles less distance, than is charged the farmer of Minnesota? That is a plain question, which the common people of the United States will inquire into, no matter what the argument may be.
Mr. ALDRICH. I do not believe it was ever true that the farmers of Minnesota and Dakota could ship their wheat to New York at a less rate per bushel than was charged from Michigan and Indiana and Illi. nois. If it is true, as I say, it can be cured in some other way than by this drastic and far-reaching remedy.
I can conceive of circumstances and conditions under which it might be necessary in carrying the wheat from points of shipment in Michigan to charge the greater sum for the shorter haul, perhaps under some circumstances a much sherter haul, but they do not exist except in very rare cases and at very long intervals.
The Senator from Massachusetts (Mr. Hoar] reminds me that I have not alluded to the fact in answer to the Senator from Michigan that a portion of the wheat to which he alludes may be destined to a foreign market, where the price is absolutely and irrevocably fixed by influences beyond our control. I do not believe that the Senator from Michigan can point to a single instance where a bushel of wheat was charged more fronı any point in his State than it was from Minnesota or Dakota.
Mr. CONGER. Will the Senator allow me to interject a remark here?
Mr. ALDRICH. Yes, sir.
Mr. CONGER. It is a notorious matter that at points between Chicago and New York where there is water-power used
Mr. ALDRICH. Water competition ?
Mr. CONGER. No, not water competition, but water power. At points 60, 70, 100, 113, and 123 miles east of Chicago, which I know, where power is furnished to change wheat into flour, the people of Michigan have availed themselves of it, and they have for years paid to have the barrel of flour transported from those 60, 70, and over 100 miles at way rates to Chicago, because there they could get transportation over the same road for their same product to the New York market at through rates. The farmers had to pay this back transportation to Chicago. Instead of paying the actual price charged from Chicago to New York, which they were willing to do, they had to transport their wheat from their mills 70 or 100 miles back to Chicago, and there pay for it over the same road the through rate, and they made money by taking it back.
Mr. ALDRICH. One of two answers might be given to the proposition now made by the Senator from Michigan.
Mr. CONGER. If the Senator can give one answer to satisfy the common people of my State that they are wrong in their suppositions and that he is right, let him try it.
Mr. ALDRICH. In the first place, the second section of this bill, requiring that all rates should be reasonable, will effectually cure the evil he complains of. In the next place, if the stations and localities to which the Senator has alluded are of such a character that from the amount of business transacted or other conditions the rule of reasonableness does not apply, then it is right that a higher rate should be charged. I do not understand the Senator to say that a bushel of wheat should be transported from some interior inaccessible point on a local road to New York at the same rate which it charged from Chicago to that city.
I know the Senator does not mean to say that. I have here a statement of the average rates per ton per mile charged on all the roads in Michigan in 1883. The rates vary from the through rate of 0.42 cent per ton per mile on the Lake Shore road, which carried 9,194,988 tons of freight, to 5.93 cents per ton per mile on the Michigan Air Line, which carried 24,841 tons in the same year, the rate being fourteen times as great in one case as the other. The circumstances are cerainly dissimilar between these roads.
Mr. CONGER. The case to which I referred was not on a little road, but on the Central road, a road known wherever railroads are known, one of the best roads in the United States, one of the best managed, a through route. It is on that road and on the direct line, not on any little road in the upper peninsula, that what I mentioned occurred. But the Senator does not answer my proposition at all, by repeating his statement, that it is not just to make intermediate stations pay for the passage back to Chicago at a much higher price than is charged for carrying the same product the longer distance.
Mr. ALDRICH. Under similar circumstances it would certainly not be just, and this bill would cure that evil whether the fourth section is retained or not.
American transportation interests would suffer indirectly as well as directly by the passage of this bill, for a large portion of the business along our northern frontier would be diverted to Canadian roads which can not be made to feel the restrictive power of our legislation. The Canadian Pacific, now engaged in building short branches as feeders into all the border States, would thrive upon our misfortunes.
But it is said by Senators even if the construction which we put upon the fourth section is correct, the commission have a right to suspend its operation. This is too vast and dangerous a power to be placed in the hands of any men. An anxiety is often expressed in regard to the dominating influence of great corporations in politics. But you propose without hesitation to put into the hands of five men, a majority of whom shall belong to one political party, and selected partly on that account, the power, to be exercised without appeal, to make or unmake States, to build up or destroy communities, and to increase or extinguish the earnings of railroad companies.
You propose to give this commission an autocratic, imperial power, which is greater than that exercised by any sovereign in the world. I do not say that they would abuse the power thus unwisely conferred, but no more effective instrument could be found to perpetuate an administration or to continue a party in control of the Government. The duties you assign this commission it would be physically impossible for them to discharge. They could not listen to the statement of the numberless exemptions which would be claimed under the fourth section, much less could they undertake to give an intelligent, and equitable decision in each case.
For the purpose of showing the growth of the transportation interests of the country and the great reduction which has taken place in rates during the past twenty years I submit a table showing aggregate tonnage on principal railroads in 1865, 1875, and 1885, and the rates per ton per mile in each of these years, as follows:
If the rate of 1865 had been charged on the tonnage of 1885 the cost of transportation by railroad to the people of the country in the latter year would have been $410,255,829 greater than the sum paid.
Also, a statement showing the rate per ton per mile charged on the principal trunk lines and on several of the principal Western roads in each year from 1865 to 1885:
The railroad mileage of this country is nearly equal to that of all the rest of the world combined. The rates for carrying freight charged by our transportation companies, with all the evils of which gentlemen have complained, are lower to-day than they are in any other country of the world. We have a country vast in area. Great Britain, Belgium, Germany, and France have compact little communities with a dense population; and with all these advantages and influences in their favor the cost of transportation in this country is less than in any of them, the average on all roads in the United States being, as I have stated, 1.06 cents per ton per mile, while the rate in Belgium is 1.30 cents, in Germany about 1.35, and in Austria and France about 1.50 cents. The rate in Great Britian is estimated at 2 cents per ton per mile, and while the decrease in rates on trunk-lines in this country in twenty years has been from 2.90 to 0.64 cents per ton per mile, the estimated reduction in English rates during the same period has been from 2.75 to 2 cents per ton per mile.
Mr. BROWN. Before the Senator takes his seat, as he has been discussing the question of the probable construction of the long and short haul provision of the fourth section of this bill, will he permit me to call the attention of the Senate to a decision very lately made by the supreme court of North Carolina on that subject :
We are differing here as to what is the proper construction. The decision of that court may be wrong, but it is a court of ability, the supreme court of one of the oldest States of the Union, and one which is very highly respected everywhere. I do not know that I feel at liberty to give the name of the correspondent, but this is a telegram from Richmond, Va., by a very intelligent gentleman, to a gentleman of this city, who presented it to me awhile ago, in reference to the decision. It seems the decision has been very recently made-he does not say what day--and is in manuscript yet. It has not been printed. The telegram is:
Am just in receipt of decision of the supreme court of North Carolina in the suit against the Wilmington and Weldon road, in which the supreme court decides that the long and short haul clause means as follows: "A rate of $2.50 per ton on guano from Wilmington to Tarboro', 145 miles, is a violation of the law when the rate is also $2.50 from Wilmington to Rocky Mount, a distance of 125 miles.” The law reads that you shall not charge a greater amount for the same character of freight under similar circumstances in the same direction over any part of the road for a short distance than you charge for long.
Almost the identical language of the provision in the fourth section of this report on that subject.
These are precisely the terms of the interstate bill, section 4. The court holds that in this case the W. and W. Railroad hauled the freight to Rocky Mount, 125 miles, for $2.50, and for the remaining distance for nothing, and therein lies the violation of the law. The opinion of the court covers fiftyseven pages of legal cap, and construes the law clearly to mean the same rate per mile to be charged in the same direction. I will have the decision copied, and try to get it to you by to-night's train.
So that the decision of the supreme court of North Carolina seems to be that, in case of a statute using almost identically the same language as this, it means the same rate per mile. It may be right or it may be wrong, but it is worthy of the attention of the Senate.
Mr. ALLISON. What does the Senator from Georgia think with reference to that construction himself?
Mr. BROWN. I think it most probable that that will be the decision of the courts generally, and the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States when it goes there.
Mr. MORRILL. Mr. President, it is not my purpose to address the Senate at any length on this question, but I have reached the conclusion that it is my duty to vote to recommit this bill. I believe it is conceded by all who have spoken, even in favor of it, that it is a very great experiment, and it is very uncertain as to what may be its result.
I am very sure, upon as careful a reading of the fourth section as I am able to give it, that its effect will be to increase the rates for the long haul and possibly those for the short haul also, and that its result will be disastrous to the country if it shall even slightly affect our exports. It will not take a very large percentage to turn the balance of trade against us. Should that occur, it is going to derange not only the business of the country, but the parity of the gold and silver corrency of the country:
I had supposed in years gone by that it was something creditable to our people that we had built so many miles of railroad in this country, and have been wont to point to the fact that we had railroads that equaled in extent those of all the world beside; but it seems that we can no longer do so, judging by the vituperative epithets that are visited on these railroads for their conduct and their management; and I judge, if this bill should pass unamended, we may rely upon it that the crusade will have its effect until this experiment can be tried, for I can not believe that there will be a single new railroad built in this country until the experiment has been tested. It will call a halt upon the further construction of railroads until it can be seen whether such investments are endangered or not.
There are several provisions in the bill besides the one so constantly referred to as the fourth section to which I think attention should be called, and if the bill is to be recommitted I should hope it would be amended in those particulars.
I have no doubt that the business of the country should this bill pass, will completely snow under all the five commissioners provided for. Why, Mr. President, to take charge of this bill under its present terms I do not think fifty commissioners would be able the first year to transact the business that will be thrown on their hands, and yet we provide in this bill that there shall be only five commissioners, and leave