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OPENING OF THE CONVENTION
The thirtieth convention of the National Electric Light Association was held at the New Willard Hotel, Washington, June 4, 5, 6 and 7, 1907. The meeting was called to order at a quarter after ten o'clock Tuesday morning by President Williams, who said:
I have very great pleasure, ladies and gentlemen, in calling to order the thirtieth convention of the National Electric Light Association. I must apologize for not calling the meeting to order promptly at ten o'clock, for the reason that the ladies, who always have our first thought, were departing on an automobile trip, which detained many of the members below. However, I would give you kindly warning that each session of this meeting is going to be opened as scheduled. If I am not here to do it, one of the other executive officers of the association will, so that you may count on beginning promptly hereafter.
It also gives me very great pleasure to present to you the gentleman who, more than any other, has made possible the arrangements for this meeting and its many attractive featuresGeneral George H. Harries.
GENERAL HARRIES: With nothing to say at this time about the convention or the work of the convention, or the work of any of the workers in or of the convention, may I proceed to
Some years ago one of England's most eminent divines, in reply to a question from me as to what in the course of a twelvemonth's tour of this country seemed to him the most remarkable thing, said: “That you should acknowledge at the seat of your government that your government is a failure.” Now, without discussing that, let me say that while our form of government here in the District of Columbia is wholly unlike those of the municipal governments of the country, largely because of complete Federal control within the Federal district, we have, nevertheless, a form of government that many of you (and I am not looking at any one particularly now) may envy. We have a thoroughly clean government. I should perhaps be exaggerating things a little and Mr. Macfarland would call me to order if I were to say it is always right. There have been times when the Potomac Electric Power Company and the Washington Railway and Electric Company differed with the commissioners, but it is not necessary that the authorities be arraigned here for their views at such times. It is important, however, that you realize that in the District of Columbia our form of government is such, our administration is of such a character, that every dollar appropriated of the money of the taxpayers of the District of Columbia, and of the taxpayers of the United States (for we are in partnership), goes directly-every 100 cents of it—to the one item for which that dollar is appropriated. It has never been known under this form of government that any one has been successful in securing a rake-off of even one cent out of the 100. That is a good deal to say, and having said that, which is the concrete thought I had in mind to present to you, I have the pleasure, because he is my personal friend, and the honor, because he is the president of the board of three commissioners who, under the President of the United States, rule the District of Columbia, to introduce Commissioner Henry B. F. Macfarland.
VR. MACFARLAND: As I listened to General Harries' very embarrassing introduction, I remembered that the Bishop of Missouri desired to add another line to the Litany: “From our
“ traducers and our introducers, good Lord deliver us." When the executive government of the District of Columbia has to obtain a certificate to its honesty and efficiency from a public-utility corporation, it is high time that Governor Hughes should be mentioned for the presidency. I may say, before leaving General Harries, that all his faults belong to him in his corporate capacity: that if the Potomac Electric Power Company and the Washington Railway and Electric Company were as good as General Harries, the commissioners would never have the slightest reason to find fault with them. You are very fortunate in being in his hands, and Washington is fortunate in having him as your chief host. You will find, as you go around, that General Harries is about everywhere. He is the commanding general of the National Guard; he is the vice-president and general manager of one of the two great traction companies and of the Potomac Electric Power Company, which has its wires everywhere—in some cases over the street, as they have not yet all been removed. Lyman Beecher, in speaking to his people one day, said: “Satan, my brethren, unlike our Lord, is not omnipotent, but what he lacks in ubiquity he makes up in devilish activity.” [Laughter.] I might have expected that a convention of such bright men would make the application without any suggestion. [Laughter and applause.]
It is a very great pleasure for us who represent the District of Columbia to have you here once more. We understand that thirteen years ago you were here, but not in so large numbers, and not representing such a great industry, not representing such a vast invested capital as the $800,000,000 of to-day. We are very sorry that you have waited thirteen years before returning, and we trust that you will not do that again, but that you will come back, if possible, year after year. Why not make Washington your permanent meeting-place? There is no more attractive place on the continent, and there is no place where you will have a warmer welcome.
Washington, it seems to me, is a peculiarly attractive place for all men interested in electricity, not only because of what we have here in the way of applied electricity; not only because of our underground trolley system and our largely underground light and power system and the rapidly disappearing wires of the telegraph companies, but because from the very beginning of the application of electricity this city has been the temporary or permanent home of so marry men who have contributed largely to the advancement of this art. Joseph Henry, Samuel F. B. Morse and Alexander Graham Bell are the conspicuous names of those inventors or scientists who have lived here, and who have done so much to make this art what it is to-day. The first telegraph wire ran from Washington to Baltimore, and the first message_"What hath God wrought"-went over that wire from Washington to Baltimore. Here in the Patent Office you find the record of the great inventions that have made this wonderful, mysterious force the servant of mankind. It seems to me, therefore, that you have a peculiar interest in Washington. You have, of course, the general interest of every patriotic American, and our friends from Canada who are here share in a measure that interest. You want to see this capital, which is so beautiful to-day, this glorious spring day when it is at its very best—and we are so happy to have such a pleasant day for your sake-you want to see this capital, now so beautiful, so convenient, so comfortable, with so many institutions of which we may well be proud, --you want to see this capital made more beautiful, more attractive, more nearly perfect, until it shall be the greatest and best capital in the world. [Applause.]
We who live here, 330,000 of us (93.000 of our population being colored, the largest colored population gathered anywhere in the world), we who live here are very glad to pay half of the expenses of the National capital while all the rest of you who live in the United States-80,000,000 or 90,000,000 --pay only the other half. Because of the fact that we pay such a disproportionate share of the expense of making and maintaining the national capital, we do not arrogate to ourselves any superior right or title in it; we recognize that you all have the same right, the same title, the same interests that we have, and therefore we have no keys of the city, therefore we have no freedom of the city to give you, because all of you who are Americans are free-born citizens of your national capital, and when you come here you come home, and we hope you will have just that feeling; we hope you will take a new pride in your capital, a new pride in your country, and that you will renew here, at the very altar of your country, the fires of your patriotism. [Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: We shall take occasion in a later resolution to express our thanks to President Macfarland and General Harries for taking part in the opening exercises of this convention.
President Williams then read the following address:
ADDRESS OF PRESIDENT WILLIAMS
To the Members of the National Electric Light Association:
It gives me pleasure to welcome the delegates, and those with them, to our thirtieth convention. This is the second meeting of the association in this beautiful city; the former was held here early in 1894-slightly more than thirteen years ago.
At that time the active (Class A) membership included 107 companies; now it includes 619 companies; then there were 112 associate (Class D) members, now there are 151; then we had 27 honorary members, now 31. In these three classes there were then 246 members, now there are 801 members.
Since that convention two membership classes have been added-Class B, now including 317 members, and Class E, including 85 members-a total of 402—making at present an .aggregate in all classes of 1286 members.
In addressing that convention President Armstrong stated that there were "upward of 2300 central stations in this country, representing at least $200,000,000 of capital.” According to our honorary member Mr. T. C. Martin, in his United States Census report, on the North American continent there are now more than 5000 central stations; the investment in the United States alone has reached $850,000,000; the gross annual revenue $165,000,000—the gross return yearly thus approximating the investment of the industry in 1894.
The dominating thought was then technical, mechanical and electrical. The American, in whatever he does, moves rapidly. In operating limitations, development toward the practical, if not the ideal, has about been reached, and now the predominating thought in a convention such as this, while giving due regard to engineering problems, tends more especially to the commercial development and to broad questions of management that, in the highest sense, affect our relations with the general public.
Notwithstanding this change, the technique of our industry has not been neglected in the programme of this convention.