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HEARINGS BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON INTERSTATE COMMERCE
OF THE UNITED STATES ON THE BILL (S. 1439) TO AMEND AN ACT ENTITLED “AN ACT TO REGULATE COMMERCE,” APPROVED FEBRUARY 4, 1887, AND ALL ACTS AMENDATORY THEREOF.
WASHINGTON, D. C., Friday, January 26, 1900. The committee met at 10 o'clock a, m.
Present: Senators Cullom (chairman), Chandler, Elkins, Kean, Tillman, and Allen.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee has been called together to-day, out of its regular order of meeting, for the purpose of hearing some delegations who asked to be heard on the 26th, which is to-day. I understand that a portion of the delegation which made that special request are present, and some of the members of the National Board of Trade, which happens to have its session here this week, are also here. We will begin by listening first to those who have asked for this hearing by correspondence with the chairman of the committee. Mr. Barry, I believe, is more familiar with the names of those who are present than anyone else, and we will hear him first.
STATEMENT OF FRANK BARRY.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Barry, before you proceed I wish to call your attention to the fact that the hearing asked for is upon the bill (S. 1439) to amend an act entitled “An act to regulate commerce,” approved February 4, 1887, and all acts amendatory thereof. The bill is before the committee, and has been examined, I understand, by delegations outside--not railroad men, but business men. It is a bill prepared, in part if not entirely, by organizations outside of the committee and outside of the railroads as well. I ask your attention to that bill. The committee does not expect to hear statements on any other subject than that contained in the bill. You may now proceed.
Mr. BARRY. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, with your permission I should like to say that we have present here the following gentlemen, who would like to be heard:
Frank Barry, of Milwaukee, Wis., secretary of the League of National Associations and secretary of the Millers' National Association of the United States; Augustine Gallagher, of St. Louis, Mo., commissioner of the Millers National Association of the United States; E. O. Stanard, of St. Louis, Mo., St. Louis Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the National Board of Trade; E. P. Wilson, of Cincinnati, Ohio, secretary of the National Association of Manufacturers; L. B. Boswell, of Quincy, Ill., National Association
of Freight Commissioners and Quincy Chamber of Commerce and Quincy Freight Bureau; L. W. Noves, of Chicago, II., the National Business League; E. P. Bacon, of Milwaukee, Wis., president of the League of National Associations and the Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce; C. B. Cole, of Chester, Ill., president the Millers' National Association of the United States; J. A. Smith, of Charleston, S. C., commissioner Board of Freight and Transportation, of Charleston; paper by Dennison B. Smith, secretary Toledo Board of Trade, Toledo, Ohio; paper by S. N. Forbes, of Buffalo, N. Y., Buffalo Chamber of Commerce; F. B. Thurber, chairman Transportation Committee, National Board of Trade, New York City, N. Y.; H. F. Donsman, Chicago, Ill, Transportation Committee, National Board of Trade; Chas. England, Baltimore, Md., National Hay Association; Geo. F. Stone, Chicago, III., secretary Chicago Board of Trade; B. F. Howard, Chicago, Ill., representing Chicago Board of Trade; C. B. Congden, Chicago, Ill., representing Chicago Board of Trade; R. S. Lyon, Chicago, I., representing Chicago Freight Bureau and National Transportation Association; F. H. Magdeburg, Milwaukee, Wis., representing Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce; James A. Bryden, Milwaukee, Wis., representing Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce; F. W. Maxwell, St. Joseph, Mo., representing Commercial Club and Jobbers' Transportation Bureau; W. P. Trickett, Kansas City, Mo., representing Commercial Club, Board of Trade, Live Stock Exchange, Hay Dealers' Association, Manufacturers' Association, and Transportation Bureau, of Kansas City.
We appear before your honorable committee to advocate your favorable consideration of the bill to amend the act to regulate commerce, known as Senate bill No. 1439, introduced by Senator Shelby M. Cullom December 12, 1899, which is now in your hands.
No measure has been before the Congress of the United States for many years which has attracted more general attention or received the approval of the people to a greater extent than this.
The bill has been carefully framed with the view to fairness and justice for the shipper and carrier alike. It is based upon the experience of those who have made the study of transportation problems their occupation, and the interests of all classes of shippers have been thoroughly considered and conserved. The aim in preparing the provisions for amendment of the present law has been to bring the act to regulate commerce fairly within the scope intended when it was originally enacted, February 4, 1887, and to add to its primary intent only such important changes as experience has taught are necessary or advisable.
While this measure is less drastic than many wish, we believe that it will afford the relief which is demanded from the evils now existing, and we have preferred to correct the fundamental weakness of the existing law without attempting to go further in providing benefits which some believe to be fair and just.
The very name of “The act to regulate commerce” expresses the intent of the original law. For a number of years after its passage its provisions were accepted as valid and binding. Through the legal construction of its terms by the courts, brought about by the systematic and well organized attacks of the most brilliant legal talent that could be emploved, the act has been gradually stripped of its force and effect, until now it is impotent and valueless as a protection to the
REGULATION OF COMMERCE.
rights of either shipper or carrier. The Government is now maintaining a commission at great expense which is of little practical value or utility, the acts of which are merely advisory and the sessions of which have become, in the opinion of the people, but the performance of a moot court.
23 While the act to regulate commerce as originally enacted may not have met with the broadest approval of the people at the time, the spirit of such a law has steadily grown in popularity, and you must be convinced that to-day a proper statute of this nature is firmly intrenched in the public desire. Believing this, we appeal to the Congress so to correct the present ineffective law that it may become what it should be for the protection of the vast commercial interests of our country directly dependent upon it. During the past few years the public has been steadily educated upon the subject of transportation, and appreciation of the weakness and inutility of the existing law has grown with marked rapidity. Repeated failure to secure justice
. through appeal to the Interstate Commerce Commission and the courts is creating an increasing feeling of unrest with the shipping public and breeding sentiment for Government ownership of the common carrier, upon which every commercial enterprise must depend so intimately, if Government regulation can not be had.
The people of the United States can not afford to wait for the future enactment of this legislation which we seek in the direction of effective regulation. They have come to realize that movements have been for some time on foot which, if they reach consummation, will go far to neutralize any steps they may take short of political revolution. These movements are both found in the unification of industrial interests, commonly known as “trusts.” They are of two classes; one is the so-called " industrial combination” and the other is the railroad combination." Both have proceeded far on the lines laid out by their
projectors, but neither, although their magnitude startles the civilized world, has yet gained sufficient power and influence to control public opinion or the suffrages of the people.
The commercial interests, acting for themselves and for the whole people, who are directly interested in this measure, feel strong enough, therefore, to confidently urge this legislation upon the attention of Congress.
This is the greatest antitrust law that Congress can place upon the statute books, because it strikes at the conditions which make the industrial trust possible.
Without the favors in transportation which are not only granted to, but are often forced by, the great trade and manufacturing combinations, they could exist only with great difficulty and must finally succumb to the successful competition of independent manufacturers and tradesmen.
The very broad public sentiment existing, favorable to this legislalation, is mirrored in the press of the land at the present time. Leading editorials and lengthy statistical arguments for this bill have appeared in the foremost daily and periodical publications of our principal cities,
Commercial organizations throughout the entire country have taken an active interest in supporting this movement and indorsing the bill, such as they were never before known to evince in any subject.
A conference of national associations of manufacturers and shippers was held at Chicago, Ill., on November 22, 1899, to consider the proposed amendments and devise ways and means to insure their passage by Congress. The following organizations were there represented: The Millers' National Association of the United States, the National Association of Manufacturers of the United States, the National Business League, the National Board of Trade, the National Transportation Association, the National Live Stock Exchange, the United States Brewers' Association, the Vapor Stove Manufacturers’ National Association, National Hay Association, National Association of Freight Commissioners, and others.
Letters were presented to the conference from some twenty national commercial organizations heartily commending the purpose of the meeting and the proposed effort; also expressing willingness to cooperate in securing the desired amendment of the interstate-commerce act.
This conference, after carefully considering the bill section, by section, approved it in every respect as a whole, and adopted the following:
“Whereas the revision of the interstate-commerce act is one of the most pressing duties of the incoming Congress;
“Whereas we believe that the long delay-so damaging to all classes of business-in passing a bill for that purpose is due principally to the fact that there has been no specific or authentic expression of the wants of the different interests affected;
“Whereas we, the representatives of national industrial and commercial organizations, embracing shippers of all classes, in conference assembled, have had under consideration a bill to amend the act to regulate commerce, which was prepared by the Interstate Commerce Commission, and, after careful and deliberate discussion of all of its provisions, have agreed that the enactment of this bill will go far toward relieving the commercial situation by strengthening the Commission and making clear the duties and obligations of carriers and shippers alike: Therefore,
"Resolved, First. That we approve said bill and earnestly request its passage by Congress.
"Second. That a copy of said bill, together with a copy of these resolutions, be sent, by the secretary of this conference, to the president of each national industrial and commercial organization in the United States, with the request that such organizations send at once their approval of said bill to the Interstate Commerce Committee of the Senate and the Commerce Committee of the House, and urge early action on the same by said committees.”'
I wish to say here that there are about fifty-nine national commercial organizations, all of which were communicated with, and with scarcely an exception we have their replies, stating that we might count them in on this movement, and expressing their approval of the bill in all of its terms.
Since that time these national organizations have taken up the subject of the desired amendments with their memberships, and in convention have expressed the most hearty and unqualitied approval of this bill. They have been joined in the movement by the National League of Commission Merchants, the National Wholesale Grocers' Association, American Association of Flint and Lime Glass Manufacturers, National Paint, Oil, and Varnish Association, National Hardware Association, National Association of Stove Manufacturers, and many others, besides local, State, and interstate organizations, boards of trade, etc., too numerous to mention.
You will undoubtedly receive from these bodies certified copies of the many resolutions indorsing this bill and urging its passage.
Many of these associations have circulated petitions among the trades which they represent asking this legislation, addressed to their members of Congress, and you will hear from them when the time comes for action upon the bill.
I present these facts in order to impress upon you the strength and earnestness of the people's desire for the legislation which we ask.
I appear as the representative of the allied national organization in this movement, The League of National Associations, and will not attempt to present the practical side of the difficulties experienced by shippers with the existing law. Several of the associations interested have representatives present, who will submit for your information their ideas, experiences, and desires with relation to amending the interstate-commerce act.
Just a word as to what these national associations are: Some of them are composed of State or sectional organizations, which in turn comprise in their membership the great majority of those carrying on the particular line of business in their respective territories. Of these, the Millers' National Association is a type. Nearly all of them are associations of subsidiary organizations of one kind or another which are located in all parts of the United States. None of these associations are small. They all fully represent what their names importthe persons, firms, companies, and corporations who produce the immense commerce and carry on the great industries of the United States, with a working capital actually invested beside which the enormous stated capitalization of the railways is not formidable. These representative national societies are formed for the main purpose of protecting the trade and industry of this country, and it is no new thing to find them appealing to the Congress of the nation for remedial legislation. Two or three industrial combinations, which have reached such proportions that they are able to dominate and control the railway interest and railway rates, are not with us. With those exceptions the supporters of this measure, as represented in these organizations, are practically all of the farmers, all of the manufacturers, all of the merchants, all of the general traders and dealers of the Unted States.
The recently published last annual report of the Interstate Commerce Commission to Congress contains an appeal for amendment of this law which is surely forcible enough in its expression and explicit presentation of the existing evils to impress everyone with the need of the legislation for which we petition. That report of the Commission recommends this Senate bill No. 1439, and its article on “Amendments to the law," and concludes as follows:
So long as carriers are practically free to makeand apply such rates as they choose, whether acting independently or by concert, and whether competing or otherwise, and there is at the same time no adequate provision for determining whether such rates are just and reasonable, or for preventing the exaction of those found unjust and unreasonable, although declared by the statute to be unlawful, the injustice which may result must be without available redress.
The producers, manufacturers, and shipper of the United States have at last become fully aroused, and they feel justified in urging the neces