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STATEMENT OF DAVID BINGHAM.
The CHAIRMAN. Please state whom you represent.
Mr. BINGHAM. I am chairman of the board of discrimination of the New York Produce Exchange. We have a membership of between 2,900 and 3,000.. We are an incorporated body, and I think we are the largest exchange in the United States or perhaps in the world. The president of the exchange is here to give countenance to what I say; I am to do the talking. I
suppose our business in extent comes next to the Chicago Exchange, which I think does a little more business than we do.
We are very anxious to have some legislation which will give to somebody the power to decide questions. It took us nearly ten years to get the first Interstate Commerce Commission appointed. For ten years after that we thought we had something that would give us relief from the discriminations of the railroads, only to find out, when it came to the test, that it was a delusion and a snare, and, so far as the business interests of the country are concerned that we represent, we do not think it is of any particular use. We want particularly to have a body that will give us a decision, and a decision before we die.
Our business is prompt. If we are shipping grain from Chicago to New York, of what earthly use is it to us to get a decision at the end of twelve months that the railroad companies were charging too much? We want a decision at once, even if it be against us.
If we are to be hung, we want to know it right away. That is the reason why we are very much more favorably impressed with the Corliss bill than we are with the Elkins bill, as regards that particular point.
The CHAIRMAN. You want the order of the Commission made operative at once?
Mr. BINGHAM. Yes. It looks to us, Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, as if the Interstate Commerce Commission ought to occupy very much the position of the jury while the legal fraternity could retain the position of judge. We are perfectly willing to have the questions of saw go to the judges, but when it comes to questions of fact, then we want them to go to the jury, to men who are familiar with the facts.
The New York Produce Exchange has an agreement with the trunk lines for arbitration which works very satisfactorily. We get along with our disputes with that association fairly well. The president of the exchange appoints one arbitrator and the trunk line appoints one; and they two appoint a third, and those three settle any question given to them not involving a large amount.
We are not here complaining particularly of the railroads, so far as New York is concerned. We are here to urge that we may have somebody whose decisions shall carry weight. It seems ridiculous to us that such a great body of men as the Interstate Commerce Commission should be created and given no power at all. The idea among the railroad people of the West when this Commission was created was that it had power to settle questions. Now we find that we want you gentlemen to give them power. We are not very particular about that power, except that we want to have it promptly applied. New York stands a little differently in that respect, I presume, from almost everybody here.
The produce exchange is not opposed to railroads making proper combinations. We would rather do our business with a combination
of railroads than with this road, that road, and the other. When we get a number of gentlemen together we can agree upon some tribunal to which we may refer our differences, and in that way we can keep transportation matters in good shape.
The CHAIRMAN. In other words, you think there may be pooling by way of agreements between railroads, subject to the supervision of the Commission?
Mr. BINGHAM. I wish you would change that word “pooling,” Mr. President. We think there ought to be an agreement. We do not believe in pooling.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, call it an agreement.
Senator TILLMAN. Why should we beat the devil around the bush in that way? If there is an effective agreement, that is pooling.
Mr. BINGHAM. You have stated it. But a pooling arrangement may be made which will allow one road to be idle. Your grain may be shipped under a pooling arrangement over the Canadian Pacific when you do not want it to go over that road at all. What we want is to have the right of selecting the railroad to carry our grain. Let the best road have the most freight. We have no objection to these roads getting together and making agreements, such as they have in regard to passenger rates. For example, we go from New York to Chicago over the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western and we pay $18. We travel over the New York Central and we pay $20. Let the roads make the same sort of an arrangement in regard to freight, always provided that this arrangement is safeguarded by a competent body. We believe that the Interstate Commerce Commission is a competent body.
Senator TILLMAN. You are not, then, in favor of pooling, as it is usually understood ?
Mr. BINGHAM. No, sir.
Senator TILLMAN. You do not believe it is for the best interests of the country?
Mr. BINGHAM. I do not.
Senator TILLMAN. But you do believe that it would be permissible for the roads to agree to give a rate of freight on each line from a given point?
Mr. BINGHAM. Yes, sir.
at all? Why not let the Commission determine the rate over any given line, provided it shall be reasonably remunerative! It is not proposed anywhere, I believe, to confiscate property by compelling a railroad to haul at a loss. If one line, by reason of its heavy grades or other conditions, can not haul as cheaply as the New York Central can haul along the almost absolute level of the Hudson River from Albany down, where it can haul a hundred cars with one engine, why not give the Interstate Commerce Commission the power to fix rates on each line according to the conditions of that line, instead of letting the lines themselves fix them!
Mr. BINGHAM. Well, Mr. Senator, we believe we are doing that. The lines in the first instance settle the rate, but that rate does not go into effect until the Commission passes upon it. If it is not satisfactory, they throw it back, so you have got to make these rates sub ject to the approval of the Commission.
Senator FOSTER. Your idea, then, is that this agreement shall be subject to the approval of the Commission?
Mr. BINGHAM. That is my idea. In point of fact, if you care for it, I am willing to read what we would be willing to accept.
Senator TILLMAN. Let it go in your testimony.
Carriers subject to the provisions of this act, with respect to traffic subject to the act, may form associations to secure the establishment and maintenance of just, reasonable, nonpreferential, uniform, and stable rates, and for the promulgation and enforcement of reasonable and just rules and regulations as to the interchange of interstate traffic and the conduct of interstate business upon the following conditions:
(a) Articles of agreement shall be subscribed by the parties thereto stating, among other things, that they are entered into subject to the provisions of this section; the terms upon which new parties may come in; how the decisions of the association are to be made and enforced, and the length of time for which the association shall continue, which shall not be more than ten years. Such articles, when subscribed and in effect agreeably to the provisions of this section, shall be legally binding upon the parties thereto and be legally enforcible between them.
(6) The articles of association shall be filed with the Commission at least twenty days before they take effect. If the Commission, upon inspection of the same, is of the opinion that their operation would result in unreasonable rates, unjust discriminations, insufficient service to the public, or would in any manner contravene the provisions of this act, it shall enter an order disapproving the same. In connection with such order the Commission shall file a statement of its reasons for its disapproval. Said order shall be final and conclusive.
(c) If the Commission, upon inquiry into the actual operation of the association after the same has gone into effect, is of the opinion that it results in unreasonable rates, unjust discriminations, inadequate service, or is in any respect in contravention of this act it may enter an order requiring the same to be terminated on a date named, which shall not be less than ten days from the making of the order. Such order shall be final, and the effect of it shall be to render such articles of agreement null and void from and after date named, except as to claims between the parties arising prior to that date.
(d) The Commission shall have the right to examine, by its duly authorized agents, the files and proceedings of such association, including all contracts, records, documents, and other papers; and it may require said association to file with it, from time to time, copies of decisions promulgated by it or of other papers received or issued.
All orders issued by associations thus formed that in anywise affect rates shall be filed with the Commission, as provided in the original act in relation to the filing of tariffs.
Every agreement for the establishment and maintenance of rates or for the formation of such associations as are authorized by this section is prohibited, except as hereby authorized, and every carrier or representative of a carrier acting as a member of such an association or committee, whether the same exists by virtue of a definite agreement or not, is made subject to a penalty of $5,000 for each day he so acts or continues a member thereof, which penalty shall be enforced in the manner provided for the enforcement of those penalties imposed by the tenth section of said act.
Senator TILLMAN. Are you willing to give the names of your membership?
Mr. BINGHAM. That is a big book, containing some 23,000 names; but we will give it to the committee.
Senator TILLMAN. I have been twitted time and again in conversations with the fact that nobody reads these statements; that people are satisfied with present conditions; that nobody wants legislation; that nobody appears here but interested parties, and that they get their inspiration from the Interstate Commission itself, which is clamoring for more power; that it has sent out circulars and solicitations. to this man and to that association begging them to come here in the interest of that Commission.
Mr. BINGHAM. Here is a man interested in cotton. That comes in his line.
STATEMENT OF SAMUEL T. HUBBARD.
The CHAIRMAN. Whom do you represent?
Mr. HUBBARD. I am president of the Cotton Exchange of New York. I am authorized by that body to appear and advocate the passage of the Corliss bill. We simply ask that more power be given to the Interstate Commerce Commission; that the orders which they issue may be carried into effect.
There is no need of detaining the committee with any extended remarks. That is the position we feel should be taken in regard to the Interstate Commerce Commission. I shall not detain the committee any longer, unless they desire to interrogate me.
Senator TILLMAN. Is your association in favor of pooling?
Mr. HUBBARD. I do not think we are. The question has not been discussed before it.
The CHAIRMAN. Were you authorized to make any statement in regard to that!
Mr. HUBBARD. No. sir.
Senator TILLMAN. Will you give us your individual opinion in regard to pooling?
Mr. HUBBARD. I do not think pooling would be for the best interests of the country. One road might be eliminated from operation by the payment to it of a certain sum of money, and freight would be lost to it which would otherwise come to it. This would tend to destroy the industries along that road. For instance, you might ship a thousand car loads over the New York Central which would more properly go over the Lehigh Valley; but instead of sending it by the Lehigh Valley road, that road is given $10,000 in cash.
The CHAIRMAN. You think the Interstate Commerce Commission would not agree to anything like that?
Mr. HUBBARD. That is the question of pooling.
The CHAIRMAN. But if you had pooling under the absolute supervision of the Commission, with full power to set aside any pooling contract in whole or in part, what would you say?
Mr. HUBBARD. That is a question which I have not considered, Mr. Chairman.
Senator TILLMAN. You would not be willing to commit yourself personally, and you are not authorized to commit your association to an indorsement of pooling?
Mr. HUBBARD. No, sir; I am not.
STATEMENT OF R. S. LYON.
The CHAIRMAN. Please give us your residence and your official position.
.Mr. Lyon. I reside in the city of Chicago. I am a layman now; I have heretofore been president of the Chicago Board of Trade; I was in 1899. I am a member of the transportation committee of that board now.
The CHAIRMAN. And authorized to appear here?
The CHAIRMAN. That is sufficient. You appear here on behalf of your board of trade!
Mr. Lyon. Yes, sir.
Mr. Lyon. It would seem possibly a little superflous to one at this day to appear before a committee of Congress and show that the interstate-commerce law had been violated, or to bring any evidence to that end. You have had abundant evidence and are surfeited no doubt with facts showing this to be the case; consequently I will not attempt to take up any of your valuable time to that end. Representing, as I have the honor at this time, the great grain and shipping trade of the board of trade of the city of Chicago, I come before you to urge some change in the interstate-commerce law that will give to us equal, stable, and uniform rates to and from all points.
The Chicago Board of Trade, handling as it does the greatest bulk of grain of any market in the world, reaching out in all directions, west, northwest, and southwest, to bring this grain to the market, and in turn supplying the markets of the world, both domestic and foreign, must of necessity be the barometer of prices. So that any deviation from tariff rates, known always, whether made in the country west, tributary to Chicago, whereby grain is diverted from its natural channel, or even by our own members, competitors with one another, is immediately felt, and the market price of commodities dealt in on the Chicago market is influenced to a greater or less degree.
Transportation is necessary to the people. It is as absolutely a necessity to the prosperity of our nation as the air we breathe. Every one should be treated alike, whether a large shipper supplying the wants of foreign countries or a small shipper taking care of the needs of this country. All sorts of devices known to shippers and railroads should be open, and the great transportation lines of this country should treat each and every one alike. To use the language of one of our learned judges, "Freight rates should be as stable as postage rates, to everywhere and from everywhere alike.” This is all we ask, and for such a law properly carried out we are willing to stand, to survive or fall.
I am a member of a grain firm and have been for the past twentyfour years. Formerly we belonged to that coterie of grain shippers designated as “small shippers. "
Previous to and about 1890 we sought to supply the wants of grain men in New England, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, and throughout the Southern States, doing nothing but a domestic trade, and did exclusively a shipping business. We were, in fact, distributers of grain and its products from the West to that class of smaller merchants and mills throughout the above territory, who in their turn filled the wants of the farmers for these commodities; generally merchants who purchased in small quantities, single car lots, whose capital often prevented their carrying large lines, or who did not have extensive storehouses to care for the same. Nor did they seek to use the cars of the various railroads to store their grain in. As fast as their single car lots were disposed of they were in the market for further supplies.
We did strictly a domestic shipping business, and were not of that class of grain dealers who sought an export trade, shipping in large quantities by water and rail to the seaboard and solely to supply the wants of the export trade. I speak of our own firm merely as an example, but our own experience is that of many. Gradually this trade became smaller by reason of the encroachment of larger shippers, more favored by rates; and we were at last driven almost entirely out of the shipping business and obliged to take up other branches of the grain business. There are combinations of Western elevator compa