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eral Traffic Association and try to arrange rates, but utterly failed to
We told them that if they gave us no relief we should be obliged to proceed to extreme measures in that respect, and in carrying out that idea a committee was appointed, with authority to draw upon the treasurer for any necessary expenses, to procure the best counsel that we were able to obtain in Kansas, and we employed the ex-chief justice of the supreme court of Kansas, a former justice, and also the attorney-general of the State of Kansas. After looking the interstate-commerce law over thoroughly they informed us that the remedy we had anticipated taking-going before the Interstate Commerce Commission-would fail us; that the best remedy, in their judgment, that we could find-and, of course, we deferred to their judgment, because it was the best we could buy—that in their judgment there was more chance for relief under the old common law in the courts of the justices of the peace of the State than we had under the interstate-commerce aw in going before the Interstate Commerce Commission, because they said there was not vitality enough in the interstate-commerce law to enable us to obtain the relief we sought unless we should be very long lived, and some of us have not a great while to stay, I am sorry to say.
Therefore we proceeded to have prepared a large number of suits to be brought before justices' courts in the State of Kansas in order to relieve us from this difficulty. We did not actually commence any suits, but we prepared a large number of cases based upon excessive charges to individuals. At first we declined to pay
but in order to make a foundation for a suit we paid under protest, tendering the exact amount of money we were willing to pay as a just and equitable rate, and took two receipts, one for the first lot of freight and the other for the excess. Then we went before the justices' courts to recover our money. That has been our method. The Traffic Association found that we were putting them to a large amount of trouble; that, although they might win out hereafter, they had a large number of suits to defend. We told them that we intended to call for juries in each case-juries of our own citizens; that we were sure of a verdict, and that that verdict would be carried into effect, so that they would have to fight against an adverse verdict in each case in every county in the State of Kansas. The result of that action is what I want to call your attention to.
When they realized the difficulties they were going to have to contend with from this course of action they proposed a compromise with our committee, which was finally accepted, although it did not come up to what we thought was right. We told them, however, that it would be only temporary. Yet I may say that these terms, effected on this compromise, accepted and adopted by our committee, have saved the western half of the State of Kansas over $75,000 a year on freights. I take that to be a conclusive admission on the part of the railroads that they were wrong; they never would have yielded that amount if they had not been wrong and known it themselves. In fact, some of their agents told us privately that they knew those rates were excessive, and that if they had the power they would be willing to grant what we asked, on the ground taken in our complaints, but that if they should undertake to do so it would cost them their positions. That is what the general freight agent of one of the greatest railroad systems in the United States stated to us.
Now, gentlemen, it is these difficulties we complain of. In the first place, excessive rates are charged arbitrarily, and in the next place there is discrimination.
The Interstate Commerce Commission have informed us that on our bare statement of the facts and figures to them we had a good case, a strong case, and they advised us to proceed before them; but, as I said before, our term of life as individuals is limited.
Senator FORAKER. What is the difficulty about getting a hearing before the Interstate Commerce Commission?
Mr. ADAMS. There is no difficulty whatever.
Senator FORAKER. Unless I have been wrongly informed, you can have a hearing there very expeditiously?
Mr. ADAMS. At once. In fact, they invited us to bring our case before them; but they say the remedy is not perfect. I wish I had here the facts and figures that I handed to our Mr. Burkholder, but he has been detained.
Senator FORAKER. I am only trying to get at your idea, not for any controversial purposes, but simply to suggest.
Mr. ADAMS. Allow me to state one case in which I think I am entirely accurate, and I know if I am wrong the secretary can correct
As one instance, I wish to cite a certain rate of freight on lumber, 300 miles for 29 cents per hundred, on practically the same line, with a little deviation (another branch of the same line), when the rate to Chicago, 1,100 miles, was 24 cents per hundred; 300 miles for 29 cents; 1,100 miles over practically the same line for 24 cents. We claim that that is an unjust and unreasonable discrimination. It does not give people the same opportunities to engage in the same kind of business and in the same way at equal rates with others.
Senator CULLOM. You say you got relief by going into the courts of the State, and they finally compromised ?
Mr. ADAMS. We think we forced them to make that concession; and it was a great concession.
Senator CULLOM. If you can scare them, as you seem to have done in that case, why can you not keep on doing the same thing?
Mr. Adams. I do not know. But, gentlemen, you are here for the purpose of legislation, and we look to you to give us a better remedy.
Senator CULLOM. We want to see whether we need to legislate. That is the main thing.
Senator FORAKER. As I understand the interstate-commerce law, the action of the railroads, of which you complain here, is just what is positively prohibited by that law.
Mr. A DAMS. It is.
Senator FORAKER. And there is no question but that the Interstate Commerce Commissioners are empowered to correct that violation of law?
Mr. ADAMS. That is correct.
Senator FORAKER. They can do it summarily--a great deal more expeditiously than the Congress of the United States can act.
Senator CULLOM. I wish to ask whether the Interstate Commerce Commissioners advised you to proceed before justices of the peace, or whether they advised you to come before them and make your case? Mr. ADAMS. Our employed attorneys advised us to go to the justices' courts.
Mr. EVANS. May I correct you, Mr. Adams?
Mr. Evans. In regard to bringing these suits before justices, we were advised that every individual who had a case for $20 or less could bring such a suit before a justice of the peace; that while that would involve the necessity of every party aggrieved bringing bis individual claim before a justice (which would be very burdensome to individuals), yet at the same time we would succeed. They also advised us that we would not succeed before the Interstate Commerce Commission because of its lack of power to enforce its orders or decisions.
Senator FORAKER. If the Interstate Commerce Commission is empowered to adjudicate your complaint, what do you want with anything more!
Mr. ADAMS. I think I can explain that point.
Senator FORAKER. That is what I want to know-whether it is because they have not power to enforce their judgments, and you want additional legislation on that point.
Mr. ADÁMS. Our point is just this: We would have to bring each individual case before the Commission. For instance, in order to have judgment for an overcharge or discrimination against me, I should have to bring a case for each act of discrimination; that case would be adjudicated and an order issued. That order could be appealed to the courts, from one court to another, until it was taken to the Supreme Court of the United States, and the very next case would have to take the same course. It does not give us any relief for the future.
Senator CULLOM. I take it that this is the point that the gentleman wishes to make—and it is the real point of the case—that if the Commission should render a verdict (if you choose to call it a verdict) or make an order, under the present decisions of the Supreme Court as to the power of the Commission, that would not be effective until it is passed upon or approved by the courts of the country.
Mr. ADAMS. That is it exactly.
Senator CULLOM. What they want is power to make an order which shall stand as a determination of the case until it is set aside by the courts?
Mr. ADAMS. That is it. We want that made immediately effective until set aside by the courts. Another thing, Senator: We want it forbidden that the railroads shall charge excessive rates on that same line, if you please, and under the same circumstances or under similar circumstances in the future. We want that decision to cover future transactions.
Senator CULLOM. The court says that under the present law that can not be done.
Mr. ADAMS. No, sir. We think that is a lameness of the present law. We think it is weak; that it lacks vitality, virility, if you please. As we understand it, those are the particular points wherein the present law is weak, though I will say that we did not come here prepared, and I doubt whether it is within our province as a matter of propriety to formulate legislation for you.
The CHAIRMAN. You can suggest.
Mr. ADAMS. We can make suggestions, of course; but our intention was to tell you the difficulties we labor under, how the whole of the great West is complaining of it among the people, where the real interest is. We look to you to find a remedy, to find the best way out. That is the purpose of this committee coming here.
Senator CULLOM. What you state is the complaint of your people that you are discriminated against and overcharged in freight rates?
Mr. ADAMS. Yes, sir.
Mr. ADAMS. Yes, sir. If we can say anything that will throw new light on the circumstances connected with this problem, or in regard to the difficulties that we run against, and that will aid in securing new remedial legislation, we shall be only too glad that we have come. I do not know that there is anything further I care to say. Mr. Evans, would you like to make any additional statement?
STATEMENT OF J. E. EVANS.
Mr. J. E. EVANS (of Emporia, Kans., a retail dealer in lumber, and a vice-president and director of the Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma Association of Lumber Dealers). The rate on lumber from any point in the southwest-Arkansas, Louisiana, or Texas--to Kansas City is 23 cents a hundred; it was 22, but now it is 23. Understand, the rate to Topeka and other points closer to the shipping point is 26 cents; at Emporia, which is still closer, the rate is 28 cents; Chicago gets her yellow pine from the same points at 24; Indiana at 38; and Cottonwood Falls, only 30 miles west of Emporia, gets the rate of 30 cents.
Mr. Adams. I might state, in this connection, that not only are localities discriminated against, but certain States are discriminated against. It is the habit of the railroads to make a blanket rate, covering a large section of country. At important points I get lumber from Texas, Indian Territory, Louisiana, and Arkansas, all at the same rate. Any yellow-pine lumber from the South comes to me at. 23 cents per hundred, no matter where it comes from.
Senator Cullom. Do you complain of that?
Mr. Adams. Oh, no; but the State of Kansas pays a relatively higher rate of freight than Missouri, Illinois, or even Nebraska.
Mr. Evans. There is no doubt about that.
Senator FORAKER. The gist of the whole matter, then, is that you contend that there are discriminations in violation of the interstatecommerce law, and that the Interstate Commerce Commissioners are not empowered by the statute, as it now stands, to give you the remedy you desire, viz, to prevent these discriminations?
Mr. ADAMS. That is it.
Senator FORAKER. You want such an amendment to the interstatecommerce law as may give them that authority!
Mr. ADAMS. That is it exactly.
Senator FORAKER. So as to save you from the necessity of going into the courts to work out your remedy?
Mr. ADAMS. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Does any other gentleman wish to be heard? [A pause.] If not, you gentlemen can now be excused while the committee holds a meeting for other matters.
Mr. ADAMS. Gentlemen, we thank you for your attention to this hearing.
Mr. Evans. I should like to have it understood that we may leave here the written statement made by Mr. Burkholder, who is absent now, as Mr. Adams has stated.
The CHAIRMAN. There is no objection to that. You may have it sent to the committee, and it will be filed with your testimony as part of the testimony.
Senator KEAN. And let it be printed.
The statement above referred to was submitted to the committee during its sitting on April 11, 1902, by Mr. Frank Barry, of Milwaukee, when the following occurred:
Mr. BARRY. Mr. Chairman, I have here a communication from the Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma association of lumber dealers, which they desire to submit. A committee representing that association, I understand, appeared before your committee some time ago and were then given permission to submit this paper.
The CHAIRMAN. Have you read it, Mr. Barry?
The CHAIRMAN. You vouch for it as being a proper and respectful paper, do you?
Mr. BARRY. Yes. I simply submit it for them, at their request. If it contains anything that is objectionable, you can change it.
The CHAIRMAN. We will accept it, Mr. Barry, if you say it is all right, because I know who you are, and I know you would not ask us to embody anything in this testimony that is not right and proper.
Mr. BARRY. It is all right, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. We are so busy and pressed that we can not read all these documents, before they are printed, in order to ascertain whether they are in proper shape.
Mr. Barry. I may have some other documents to submit, and so I shall be very careful about them.
Following is the paper referred to:
The undersigned, representatives of the Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma Association of Lumber Dealers, having been assured that their views in writing, in reference to the needed legislation in the interest of interstate commerce, would be considered, beg leave to submit the following:
The interstate commerce law enacted by Congress in 1887 was the outcome of constant public demand for at least ten years. The conditions existing at that time, and which gave rise to this demand, confront the public to-day in more aggravated form. President Arthur, in his message of December 4, 1882, recommends to Congress the regulation of interstate commerce, arraigns the corporations which own or control the railroads of adopting such measures as tend to impair the advantages of healthful competition, and to make hurtful discriminations in the adjustment of freightage. He points out the fact that these inequalities have been corrected in several of the States by appropriate legislation, but so far as such mischiefs affect commerce between the States, they are subjects of national concern, and Congress alone can afford relief.
In his message in December, 1883, he points out the relations that ought to exist between the public carriers and their patrons, and lays upon Congress the responsibility of granting relief and protection to the general public in the following language:
“While we can not fail to recognize the importance of the vast railway systems of the country, and their great and beneficent influences upon the development of our material wealth, we should, on the other hand, remember that no individual and no corporation ought to be invested with absolute power over the interest of any other citizen or class of citizens. The right of these railway corporations to a fair and prof