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through travel and commerce to lines in other States. There is so little difference in the routes to the Pacific coast, that a literal obedience to this statute may work a hardship on the roads competing for this carriage. The object of the statute is to prevent accidents at railway crossings. If the interlocking switches accomplish this, all is done that is required for safety. Chapter 24 of the same session should be modified, leaving out the words "all trains" in the fourteenth line.
GENERAL CONFERENCE OF RAILROAD COMMISSIONERS.
In February, 1889, the Commissioners received from the InterState Commission, invitation to participate in a "General conference of State and Inter-State Commissioners," to be held at Washington, D. C., commencing March 5, 1889, the objects of which were a general interchange of views on the transportation question, and the control and management of railroads, among the special questions outlined for consideration being:
Railway statistics, with special reference to the formulation of a uniform system of reporting;
Classification of freight, its simplification and unification;
Railway legislation, how to obtain harmony in;
Railway construction, should regulation be provided; and such other topics affecting State and Inter-State commerce, as may be brought forward by the members of the conference, etc.
The invitation was accepted by this Board and Commissioner Smith appointed to represent it at the conference, and to prepare a paper to be read at said conference as requested. Commissioner Campbell also attended.
The conference met and organized March 5, with Judge Cooley chairman. Besides the Inter-State Commission and its officers, there were in attendance Commissioners from twenty-one States and the territory of New Mexico, Governor Larrabee and ex-Commissioner Coffin, of Iowa, representatives of the "Association of American Railway Accounting Officers," and others.
The conference was in session three days. Its deliberations were mostly of an informal character, consisting of exchange of views by Commissioners of different States on various topics, the discussion of the questions outlined in the call, the appointment and reports of committees on statistics, legislation, etc.
Interesting papers were presented on "Uniform railway statistics," by Statistician Adams, of the Inter-State Commission; "Uniformity in reports from railway companies," by Commissioner
Bonham, of South Carolina; "Uniform classification of freights," by Commissioner Downing, of Missouri, and by Commissioner Smith, of Iowa, on "Railroad legislation and litigation in Iowa," which is hereafter inserted.
The conference adopted a resolution in favor of a uniform method of collecting and publishing statistics; also, in favor of a still further advance towards uniform classification of freights; the report of the committee on statistics, recommending June 30, as the end of the fiscal year, and various changes in the form of reports, were approved.
A resolution was adopted for annual conventions of State Commissioners, in conjunction with the Inter-State Commissioners, and Commissioners Woodruff, of Connecticut; Mitchell, of New Hampshire, and Campbell, of Iowa, appointed a standing committee to call the next convention. A committee of five on "Railway legislation, how to obtain harmony in," consisting of Commissioners Crocker, of Massachusetts; Mason, of Nebraska; Shorter, of Alabama; Pingree, of Vermont, and Rich, of Michigan, was appointed to report at the next annual convention.
Ex-Commissioner Coffin, of Iowa, addressed the convention on the question of "Safety appliances," on behalf of the Brotherhood of Brakemen. He stated that in the past ten years, in Iowa alone, 2,424 men were killed and maimed by the old link and pin-coupler hand-brake; 349 of these in the year 1888, and "in the United States in the past year 6,000 active, strong men were either killed or maimed for life."
An interchange of views on railway statistics, manner of reports, legislation, etc., in the various States elicited a great deal of information as to these matters. The Eastern and Middle States generally reported limited powers as to rates and classification; the Southern and Western States reported more enlarged powers as to rates, with the classification of the Southern Railway and Steamship Association classification in the former, and the Western classification in the latter.
The conference resulted in a better understanding between the State and Inter-State Commissioners as to the matters under discussion, the adoption of a uniform time and method for making reports, as recommended by the latter, progress toward uniform classification, and an acquaintance between the Commissioners of the different sections of the country and a knowledge of their duties, powers and progress, that can but result in good, and that led to the formation of a permanent organization for future annual meetings.
THE RAILROAD QUESTION.
RAILROAD LEGISLATION AND LITIGATION IN IOWA-A HISTORICAL PAPER BY SPENCER SMITH.
In 1873, Iowa, in common with Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota, became deeply interested in the question of transportation, and through the grange organization, which, at that time, had a membership of 1,600,000 in the agricultural States, took a determined stand for state and national regulation and control of transportation companies. The long distances over which their surplus product had to be moved to reach the consumer in eastern population centers made the question of freight rates pregnant with interest to the western agriculturists. One of the principles advanced and declared by the grange was, "that all corporations are subject to legislative control; that those created by congress should be restricted and controlled by congress, and that those under state laws should be subject to the control respectively of the States creating; that such legislative control should be an express abrogation of the theory of the inalienable nature of chartered rights, and that it should be at all times so used as to prevent moneyed corporations from becoming engines of oppression."
On the other hand it was claimed that the so-called "hostile legislation" was attributed to the fact that the granger States had but few persons who were holders of or interested in railroad securities, and that the opening up of the western country by the new lines of roads, and the placing on the market of their lands at comparatively low prices on long time payments, had constituted additional competition with the consequent reduction in prices.
John Newell, president of the Illinois Central, in 1873, testifying before the United States senate committee, as to the causes of the complaints against railways, said: "We have all discovered that when we cannot get the price we want for carrying on business, to pay a fair dividend on the values of the property, we take what we can get, and the consequence was that we were all hauling property from competing sections at great deal less rates than from intermediate stations. That, of course, attracted attention here, and, perhaps, was the immediate cause of the great complaint about discrimination and extortion. * We have hauled a good deal of
grain from Mattoon to Chicago for ten cents a hundred. We charged from Kankakee, fifty-six miles south of Chicago, I think, eleven cents, if my memory is correct, and you see eleven cents for fifty-six miles, and ten cents for one hundred and seventy-three miles, created at once this feeling of extortion and unjust discrimination. Now these two facts are the real cause of the complaint in this State."
What was known as the granger movement entered largely into the politics of lowa and was a potent factor in the selection of the legislature for 1874. Following the Wisconsin "Potter law" legislation, the Iowa legislature in 1874, by a vote of eighty-eight to six, in the house, and forty to eight
in the senate, enacted what is known as the "Granger law," in which fixed rates for transportation for given distances in five mile stages are provided. Rates of passenger fare were fixed in this act, being graded according to the classification of the road based upon the gross annual earnings per mile. Roads earning $4,000 or more per mile were placed in class A, those earnings less than $4,000 and more than $3,000 per mile in class B, and those earning less than $3,000 per mile in class C. Class A roads were permitted to charge three cents per mile for passenger service, and 90 per cent of the freight schedule fixed by the law. B roads were permitted to charge three and one-half cents per mile for passenger service and 5 per cent in advance of the schedule for freight, and C roads four cents per mile for passenger service and 20 per cent in addition to table of rates. A classification of freights was also adopted. It was claimed that the rates adopted, with the classification, operated to reduce the rates theretofore prevailing 30 per cent. The maximum rates on the four classes being the merchandise classes, per hundred pounds, were as follows:
Carriers were required to post classification and schedule and to make annual statement to the Governor of gross receipts on which the roat were to be classified by the executive council. A violation of the law was made a misdemeanor to agents, with a penalty of fine from $25 to $100 or imprisonment from five to thirty days, and to the company a penalty of $500. The sum of $10,000 was appropriated for the enforcement of the law. The act went into effect on the 4th day of July, 1874.
The Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad company decided not to put in the rates and applied to the United States circuit court for the district of Iowa, for a writ enjoining the Attorney-general from bringing penalty suits. The case went on appeal to the supreme court of the United States, and was decided against the company, in an opinion reported in the 94th United States, page 155, following the Munn warehouse case 94th United States, page 113, in which it was held that " 'when private property is devoted to a public use, it is subject to public regulation."
"In countries where the common law prevails it has been customary from time immemorial for the legislature to declare what shall be a reasonable compensation, under such circumstances, or more properly speaking, to fix a maximum beyond which any charge made would be unreasonable."
On the 20th of the preceding June, Hugh Riddle, who was then vice-president and general superintendent of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway Company, addressed a letter to the Governor of the State, in which he said:
"We respectfully submit that the result of this legislation, judged by the experience of the past, cannot realize the promise of the title, 'to establish reasonable maximum rates.' We do not believe that the people of the State
of Iowa really desire to confiscate the property of companies owning railroads in the State. That the owners of such property are entitled to reasonable profits upon the amount of capital actually invested, will be denied by no reasonable man. The recognition of this principle is demanded alike by good faith and common honesty. The officers of this company are disposed to regard this act as the result of hasty legislation, without proper investigation or consideration, rather than a manifestation of a settled purpose on the part of the people to disregard property rights when the owners happen to be corporations. If forced to the conclusion that the confiscation of property is the determined purpose of the people of Iowa, power to accomplish such a purpose must be respectfully, but firmly and persistently denied. It has been held by the courts that the authority granted to a railroad company to fix reasonable tolls must be construed as conferring power to fix reasonable tolls; upon like reason, it must be affirmed, that the power reserved to a general assembly to prescribe tariffs for the transportation of persons and property can be exercised only by the establishment of reasonable tariffs. The implication of law available for the protection of the people against extortion is quite as effective, when invoked, to prevent confiscation.
'While this company denies the justice and constitutional validity of the act, it is disposed to subject it to the test of actual experiment before assailing it in the courts. Schedules have been arranged in conformity with its provisions, for the transportation of persons and property between points in the State of Iowa. The officers of the company, however, are trustees charged with the management of the property of its stockholders in such a manner as to secure the revenue necessary for the payment of operating expenses, reasonable dividends upon the stock, and interest upon bonds. While engaging in the experiment of operating that portion of the road in Iowa in accordance with the schedules named in the act, it is their duty to so adjust the rates applicable to inter-state commerce as to secure from the entire business of the company the revenue to which it is entitled, Inflexible schedules have uniformly been found impracticable, and we say frankly, that we do not believe the operation of this road in conformity to this one, will accord with the principles which govern commerce, or that the results will be satisfactory, either to the owners of the railway, or to the people of the State. It is hoped, however, that some practicable good will result from subjecting the act to the test of actual experiment. It may contribute something toward either confirming or dispelling new theories in regard to transportation, and bringing about a better understanding of the principles which should govern the relations existing between the owners of railroad property and the public. If actual experiment shall demonstrate that a continued observance of these schedules will not result in a total or practical confiscation it may not be necessary to raise any question as to the validity of the act. If the results of a thorough and satisfactory experiment show that such observance must involve a permanent surrender of the revenues to which the company is entitled from the operation of its lines, a different policy will be adopted, with a view to securing such revenue, and any attempt to enforce the act, as a valid law, will be resisted in the proper tribunals. It is the purpose of the officers of this company to conduct this experiment in such manner as to satisfy all reasonable persons of their good