Page images
PDF
EPUB

ACTS PASSED BY CONGRESS.

257

most notable acts of the first ses

the first ses- Speaker of the House from $8,000 to sion were: the amended Interstate $12,000, and Senators and RepresenCommerce Law; the

the Pure Food tatives from $5,000 to $7,500. Law; reform of naturalization laws; Much of this legislation was recomremoval of the international reve- mended by the President in his annue tax on denatured alcohol; in- nual message. Many things he asked crease of the navy; forfeiture of for were voted down or buried in the railway land grants, where roads committees, others were emasculated had failed to be constructed; liability almost beyond recognition, but on the of common carriers for injury or whole the policies of the President redeath of employees due to defective ceived a greater measure of approval appliances or negligence; preserva- than might have been anticipated, tion of the Niagara Falls; travelling considering the friction that develexpenses ($25,000) per annum for

for oped from time to time between Mr. the President; statehood for Okla- Roosevelt and Congress, and the fear homa; statehood for Arizona and of executive usurpation which was New Mexico as separate States after continually disturbing the latter. The popular vote; reorganization of the work of this Congress received the consular service; coinage for the following testimonial from President Philippine Islands; ex-territorial Roosevelt: courts in China; and the selection of

“I would not be afraid to compare its record a lock type for the Panama Canal. with that of any of the previous Congresses in

our history, not alone for the wisdom, but for Equally important was the legisla

the disinterested highmindedness which has con. tion of the second session, the most trolled its action. It is noteworthy that not a significant acts being: the prohibi

single measure which the closest scrutiny could

warrant us in calling of doubtful propriety has tion of campaign contributions by

been enacted, and on the other hand, no influence corporations; the investigation of of any kind has prevailed to prevent the enact

ment of laws most vitally necessary to the nation woman and child labor: the general

at this time.” service pension law granting pensions to all veterans over 62 years

Just how much of this legislation of age who had served in the mili- would have been enacted had the tary or naval forces of the United President not been solidly supported States whether wounded or not;* an by the people, it is difficult to say, act limiting labor law on railways to yet that it would have been epochnot more than 16 continuous hours; making there can be no doubt. The increase of the salaries of the Vice- President had grown steadily in popPresident, Cabinet members and ular respect, and when it was seen

that his promises were followed as

far as it was in his power by fulfil* This legalized an executive order made by ment, the people felt that at last they President Roosevelt declaring age a conclusive eridence of disability.

had found some one to lead them

[ocr errors]

out of the wilderness. It was clear attached, and when they have com

. that unless they forced economic leg- mitted abuses and when an endeavor islation of a character almost revolu- to discipline them has been made, tionary, the influences that controlled they have sought the protection of the industrial world and had been the courts and in many cases escaped making tremendous advances towards just punishment by questioning the the control of the political, would be right of the central government, come so entrenched that nothing save under the Constitution, to act. With a revolution could dislodge them. consummate skill, the dual nature Neither capital, nor labor, nor, in- of that document has been abused in deed, the great mass of the people, the defense of institutions menacing understood as clearly as President to the principle of individual freeRoosevelt the real issue of the strug

dom. On the other hand, in a numgle that was on. Nowhere has this ber of States the opposite extreme been more definitely stated that in has been approached in the enactsome brief remarks made by him dur- ment of legislation so stringent that ing the proceedings of the conference it has effectually prevented the conof governors at Washington, May 15, struction of railways, and investment 1908:

of capital, thereby preventing indus“I want to say one word about what has been

trial development of the territory called the 'twilight land’ between the powers of concerned. The result of these conthe Federal Government and the State Govern

ditions was the formulation of the ments. My primary aim, in the legislation that I have advocated for the great corporations, has

Interstate Commerce Law of 1897, been to provide some effective popular sovereign

which under the clause of the for each corporation. * * I am trying to find out where one or the other can act, so that there

Constitution premitting the regushall be always some sovereign power that, on be- lation of interstate commerce, aimed half of the People, can hold every corporation,

to restrict abuses by prohibiting seevery individual, to an accountability, so that its or his acts shall be beneficial to the People as a cret rates and rebates, unreasonable whole."

rates, and local preferential rates. It He saw that the ambiguity and

was hoped that this law would be compromise in the Constitution of efficient, but its efficiency was dethe United States in delimiting the pendent upon the power of the comsphere of the Federal government

mission established under its proviand that of the States had been

sions to determine what constituted taken advantage of by the corporate unreasonable rates, and this was deinterests in preventing legislative

nied by a decision of the Supreme control of any sort. Some States,

Court soon after the law went into notably, New Jersey, have per- effect. The commission thus became mitted the incorporation of industrial powerless, and the purpose of the bodies with scarcely any conditions law was largely nullified, hence a

[ocr errors]

*

[ocr errors]

THE INTERSTATE COMMERCE LAW.

259

66

common

a

strong movement was instituted to prescribe rates, subject to court regive the commission this power. The view; broadened the term so-called Elkins Act (1905) was the carrier " so as to bring under the result, which was not only a compro- jurisdiction of the law all railways, mise, but one favored by the rail. private lines, express and sleeping ways who feared more drastic meas- car companies, and pipe lines. It forures. This legislation confirmed the bade issuance of passes to any save right of the government to discipline employees, forbade the ownership or common carriers guilty of giving re- control of coal, iron, or other combates and secret tariffs; fines, how- panies shipping commodities, reever, were substituted for imprison- quired schedules of rates to be dement.

posited with commission, demanded Yet the problem was not solved by a uniform system of accounting, and this legislation, for it failed to reach made more severe the penalties for the owners of private freight lines of rebating.* The commission itself was the great fruit and packing firms, the enlarged, in addition, to seven memowners of pipe lines, express and bers. Under the provisions of this sleeping car companies, etc. The

The law, action was brought against the former interstate legislation had, in Standard Oil Company of Indiana fact, proved a protection to these cor- for accepting rebates on oil shipped porations, for in another guise they over the Chicago and Alton between were doing what was now denied the Whiting, Ind., and East Saint Louis. railways themselves. It was not long This case was tried by Judge K, M. before the abuses resulting from the Landis, of the United States District strategical position they had gained Court at Chicago, August 3, 1907, became so onerous, especially upon who fined the defendant the maxicertain sections of the country, that mum fine of $29,240,000. This was there was unanimity of public opin- set aside July 22, 1908, by the United ion for an extension of the law to States Court of Appeals, on the cover these corporations also. The grounds that the decision was conresult was the Hepburn Law, passed fiscatory. during the last hours of the Fifty- Another important case under this ninth Congress (June 29, 1906). act was the investigation of the HarThis act was under bitter discussion riman lines, in order to determine during the whole of the second ses- the methods by which he had gained sion, and in view of the powerful control of one-seventh of the railforces arrayed against it, came forth

ways of the country. Mr. Harriman a far more comprehensive and strin- absolutely refused to testify on vital gent enactment than might have been points, and his position was upheld

points, expected. It gave the Interstate

* In 1908, 46 indictments were made for rebat. Commerce Commission the power to ing, 3 of which resulted in convictions and fines.

in a decision of the Supreme Court of protecting the people from the inDecember, 1908, which interpreted numerable frauds that for years had that the penalizing clause referred been perpetrated by individuals and solely to failure to testify in cases corporations whose morality has involving a breach of the law.

lagged far behind their desire for In another case, decided Septem- wealth. It had long been known that ber 10, 1908, the so-called “Com- food, drugs, and other articles of modities clause" was declared un- consumption had been supplied to constitutional by the United States the public in adulterated form for Circuit Court of Appeals, at Phila- years, but in absence of legislation delphia. This removed the restric- there was no apparent method of tion denying railways the right to stopping the practice. The matter mine and sell coal and iron, and other was brought to an issue by the army products. The courts have thus done beef scandal, and the evidence proeverything possible to eliminate the duced at the hearings of the commisextreme provisions of the law, and sion of inquiry was of such a nature have cast suspicions upon the effi- that a strong demand arose for acciency of the legislation as a whole, tion on the part of Congress. Sesyet it is very evident that any activ- sion after session bills were preity leading toward further curtail- sented, but the forces arrayed ment of the power of the commission against them were too strong, and would be strenuously opposed by the they were quietly shelved. But the people, and would result, in the long issue could not be evaded longer, and run, in legislation still more severe. the result was the passage of the law There are only two apparent solu- of 1906. This legislation was hastions to the corporation problem: tened by the publication of a book government control or government named The Jungle by Upton Sinownership, and if the former be im- clair, which revealed a horrible conpossible, the coming of the latter will dition of affairs in the stock-yards be only a question of time.

of Chicago. An investigation proved Second in importance perhaps first, the relative truth of his accusations, if its influence upon the welfare of the and the result was the indictment of people be considered, was the Na- high officials of the beef companies. tional Food and Drugs (Pure Food) Public opinion became so strongly in Act, passed June 30, 1906. This was favor of protective legislation, that a compromise, and far less stringent the long-hoped for acts were finally than food legislation that has been passed. The Food Bill is primarily on the statute books of foreign na- a publicity law, and provides a pentions for years, yet it was a tremen- alty only for using poisonous or othdous forward stride in the direction erwise injurious substances in adul

CONSERVATION OF NATIONAL RESOURCES.

261

teration, and for misbranding; the basis of more or less uniformity was dealer is not denied the right to adul- a phase of a movement toward uniterate his product, if no harmful sub- formity of State legislation which stance be used, but he is denied the had long been deemed desirable. One right to offer it as the genuine ar- of the movements tending most ticle. The public must know what it strongly toward this result was the is buying, being given the privilege conference of State governors called of determining whether it wishes to together at the instance of President buy adulterated food and drugs or Roosevelt, May 13-15, 1908. The not. The legislation, however, has prime object of this conference was forced all misbranded articles out of to consider plans for the conservathe trade, and along with them the tion of national resources, and grew self-advertised frauds. Thus, al- out of a convention of the Inland though indirectly, under the efficient Waterways Commission, with which application of the law by Secretary of the President took a trip of inspection Agriculture Wilson, and chief of the down the Mississippi during October, bureau of chemistry, Dr. Wiley, re- 1907. The conference met in Washsults have been gained almost as ington, 40 States being represented salutary as would have come from by their respective governors. This making adulteration of any sort pri- was remarkable as the first gathering marily a criminal offense. To the of the kind ever attempted, and its end of 1908, 135 cases were brought success probably means the injection to trial in none of which was there of a new force into the national civic a decision adverse to the govern- life. The first meeting confined itself ment.

strictly to the subject of conserva- . Similar in intention, and passed at tion, but the possibility of coöperathe same time, was the act providing tion of the States upon that topic, it is for a rigid inspection of cattle slaugh- reasonable to suppose, will lead to tered for food. The provisions re- coöperation on other subjects and fuspecting adulteration and misbrand- ture conferences will doubtless exing were also applied in this law, and tend the scope and purpose of the common carriers were subjected to organization so far as is consonant heavy penalties for transporting such with the provision of the Constitucommodities. Several States had tion denying individual States the passed pure food legislation prior to right to enter into agreements not the agitation of 1905-6, but by the authorized by Congress. end of the year 1907, 26 had passed As a corollary to the conference of pure food acts, the majority of which governors, and in response to a sugwere modeled upon the Federal law. gestion made at the time, President

The passing of these laws upon a Roosevelt appointed, June 3, 1908,

« PreviousContinue »