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than one common carrier, and the several com- sion that some carriers have been advised by
RIERS SUBJECT TO THE ACT.
It is provided in the twelfth section of the authority conferred upon it to require the puố Act, lication of joint tariffs, has made order for That the Commission hereby created shall have their publication in all cases where the joint authority to inquire into the management of the tariff is competitive to that which is taken by visions of this Act, and shall keep itself informed as a single line between the same points; the pub to the manner
and method in which the same is conlication under such circumstances being im- ducted, and shall have the right to obtain from such portant to the interests of fair and open com.
common carriers full and complete information nec
essary to enable the Commission to perform the petition.
duties and carry out the objects for which it was But though the carriers make and file their created; and for the purposes of this Act the Comtariffs as required by the Act, there is no gen- and testimony of witnesses, and the production of
mission shall have power to require the attendance eral uniformity to the tariffs or to the classifi.. all books, papers, tariffs, contracts, agreements, and cations, either in form or in general method of documents relating to any matter under investigapreparation. This is unfortunate for several tion, and to that end invoke the aid of any court of reasons, but especially because the public, who testimony of witnesses and the production of books,
the United States in requiring the attendance and have to deal with many carriers, are likely to papers, and documents under the provisions of this be confused between the different methods of
section. giving information, and possibly to be misled This is a very important provision, and the in some cases. The difficulty of making use Commission will no doubt have frequent ocof them for the purposes of the Commission casion to take action under it. It will not hesis also greatly enhanced by the want of uni- itate to do so in any case in which a mischief formity, and the Commission would be very of public importance is thought to exist, and glad to correct it if that were possible. The which is not likely to be brought to its attenforce of assistants which the appropriation tion on complaint of a private prosecutor. made by the Act enabled the Commission to There is every reason to believe, however, that engage is so small that any steps in this direc- some of the most serious evils which were notion have up to this time been quite out of the torious in the railway service before the pasquestion. Some idea of the labor devolved sage of the Act, and were in the legislalive upon this clerical force may be formed when mind as reasons for its enactment, have now it is known that as near as can be estimated almost ceased to exist. One of these was the one hundred and ten thousand books, papers, giving of special and secret rebates. These and documents, showing rates, fares, and were exceedingly common before the Act, and charges for transportation, and contracts, constituted one of the readiest means of makagreements, or arrangements between carriers ing unjust discrimination. No provision in the in relation to interstate traffic, have been filed Act to Regulate Commerce is more important in the office of the Commission, all of which than that which forbids them. But among all required appropriate classification and system the complaints made to the Commission not atic arrangement. It has been quite impossi. one has charged a specific Act in violation of ble to do more with these than to acknowledge this provision; and where a disregard of it has the receipt, classify, and index them, and put been suggested it has been by way of formal them in order for reference. The organiza charge and as an expression of suspicion only. tion of a general system upon which they In the litigated cases which have come bemight most usefully be made has not been at- fore the Commission involving an examination tempted; nor even any systematic investiga into railroad practices at important centers, tion of their contents for the purpose of ob. there has been entire agreement in the proofs serving to what extent the provisions of the that special rates to individuals and secret reAct to Regulate Commerce is complied with in bates were no longer made; a single exception. their preparation.
al instance only has come out in the proofs, This latter duty seems to be clearly contem. Their condemnation by the law and the proplated by the Act. The Commission has felt vision made for their detection and punishit to be its duty not to exceed in its expendi. ment have brought about this result. Further tures the appropriation made, unless compelled evidence in the same direction is furnished by by a necessity that should be plainly impera- the complaints of those who formerly had them tive; and steps, however desirable, that re that the Law injuriously affects their business; quired, to give them effect, more clerical force but these complaints, which are aimed at the than the appropriation would enable it to se justice and equity of the Law, the public may cure have therefore been postponed. Should bear with equanimity, satisfied that in this par. it be within the power of the Commission at ticular at least substantial benefit has come any time hereafter to deal with the subject ef- from its enactment. fectively, it will endeavor to do so.
Complaints of unjust discrimination and the It is within the knowledge of the Commis-1 giving of undue and unreasonable preferences
by the open rates are still frequent; and it is No complaint shall at any time be dismissed be not to be denied that in the existing tariffs there cause of the absence of direct damage to the com
plainant. are many rates which, as compared with others made by the same carriers, seem to be unfair
The complaints made to the Commission have and oppressive. But even as regards this spe complainants have appeared to suppose that
been very numerous, and in many cases the cies of injustice the good effects of the Law are the Commission could interpose and correct at manifest. For whereas formerly the carriers made discriminations at pleasure, and gave once an alleged evil on an ex parte statement of preferences for which their own interest or facts has been so defective that no opinion
its existence. In other cases the statement of convenience was deemed sufficient reason, the discriminations or preferences which are now
could be formed whether or not a real griev. complained of are such as the carriers under: ance existed. In no case has the Commission stand they may be called upon to defend; and declined to give attention to a complaint be
cause of its being informal or imperfectly prethey are aware that the defense, to be successful, must be based on grounds' of substantial sented; but when not in shape for its action, if justice, or at least on grounds not palpably un
the facts indicated a probable grievance, it has tepable. This necessity for defending the dis opened correspondence with the carrier with a
view to redress. criminations made may be expected to reduce
In the majority of cases the very considerably their number, and has al. correspondence has resulted in satisfactory arready done much toward bringing about more found to be mistaken in his facts, or if wronged
rangement. Either the complainant has been just proportions in the classification and rating it has been through the carelessness or mistake of property transported.
In the performance of its duty of supervis- of an agent which the carrier readily corrected, ion, the Commission has found it necessary to or if the facts presented a case of difference of cooduct a very extended and voluminous cor- opinion, the parties, when brought into comrespondence, which could not be presented in munication, succeeded in finding some basis this place even in abstracts. A few letters This method of disposing of complaints is be
for settlement without further intervention, from the Commission which laid down rules, lieved by the Commission to be more useful or were of more than individual importance, than any other, because its tendency is towards are, however, given in an appendix hereto the establishment of desirable relations between marked C. In connection with these letters, attention is called to the decision made by the the carriers and those who must be their cusCommission in the case of The Vermont State tomers; but when such a disposition of a case Grange v. The Boston and Lowell Railroad proves to be impracticable, the complainant, Company et al., [ante, 571,that the railroads if he desires it, is given the necessary direc who unite in fast freight lines are responsible tions for putting his complaint in form for an for their rates, and bound to see that the tariffs
It is provided by the fourteenth section of are properly filed.
the Act V. COMPLAINTS TO AND ADJUDICATIONS BY
That whenever an investigation shall be made by THE COMMISSION.
said Commission, it shall be its duty to make a re
port in writing in respect thereto, which shall inThe ninth section of the Act provides that clude the findings of fact upon which the conclu“any person or persons claiming to be damaged recommendation as to what reparation, if any, by any common carrier, subject to the provis- should be made by the common carrier to any party ions of this Act, may either make complaint to and such findings so made shall thereafter, in all ju. the Commission or may bring suit in his or her dicial proceedings, be deemed prima facie evidence own behalf for the recovery of the damages" as to each and every fact found. in a federal court. The thirteenth section is: And by the fifteenth
That any person, firm, corporation, or association, That if in any case in which an investigation shall or any mercantile, agricultural, or manufacturing be made by said Commission it shall be made to apsociety, or any body politic or municipal organiza- pear to the satisfaction of the Commission, either tion complaining of anything done or omitted to be by the testimony of witnesses or other evidence, done by any common carrier subject to the provis- that anything has been done or omitted to be done ions of this Act, in contravention of the provisions in violation of the provisions of this Act, or of any thereof, may apply to said Commission by petition, law cognizable by said Commission, by any comwbich shall briefly state the facts; whereupon, a mon carrier, or that any injury or damage has been stateinent of the charges thus made shall be forward- sustained by the party or parties complaining, or ed by the Commission to such common carrier, who by other parties aggrieved in consequence of any shall be called uponto satisfy the complaint or to an- such violation, it shall be the duty of the Commisswer the same in writing within a reasonable time, sion to forthwith cause a copy of its report in reto be specified by the Commission. If such common spect thereto to be delivered to such common carcarrier, within the time specified, shall make repara- rier, together with a notice to said common carrier tion for the injury alleged to have been done, said to cease and desist from such violation, or to make carrier sball be relieved of liability to the coinplain- reparation for the injury so found to have been ant only for the particular violation of law thus done, or both, within a reasonable time, to be speccomplained of. If such carrier shall not satisfy the ified hy the Commission; and if, within the time complint within the time specitied, or there shall specified, it shall be made to appear to the Commisappear to be any reasonable ground for investigat- sion that such common carrier has ceased froin ing suid complaint, it shall be the duty of the Com- such violation of law, and has made reparation for mission to investigate the matters complained of in the injury found to have been done, in compliance such manner and by such means as it shall deem with the report and notice of the Commission, or to proper.
the satisfaction of the party complaining, a stateSaid Commission shall in like manner investigate ment to that effect shall be entered of record by the any complaint forwarded by the railroad cominis- Commission; and the said common carrier shall sioner or railroad commission of any State or Ter- thereupon be relieved from further liability or ritory, at the request of such commissioner or com- penalty for such particular violation of law. mission, and may institute any inquiry on its own motion in the same manner and to the same effect
In none of the cases so far decided by the as though complaint had been made.
Commission has it felt called upon to order reparation to be made for past injury. Most not been favored, unless the case was such that of the cases were such as to present no case for the whole merits would thereby be presented; reparation-they looked only to the establish- but the defendant has been expected to disment of a rule for the future. Some com close its defense by answer, so that one hearplaints, however, were evidently made in the ing may be sufficient for the final disposition expectation that the Commission might pro- of the case. ceed to give damages upon a grievance that By this method of procedure technicalities would support an action on the common-law are discarded, the complaints and the answers side of the federal court. The Commission, to them are treated as presenting business conwhen such complaints have been brought to a troversies which the parties, if they elect so to hearing, has not discovered in the statute a do, can manage for themselves. This they purpose to confer upon it the general power may do without being placed at disadvantage to award damages in the cases of which it may by the want of legal learning, unless the case take cognizance. The failure to provide in is such as to depend rather upon the law than terms for a judgment and execution is strong upon disputed questions of fact, which many negative testimony against such a purpose; but of them do not. When parties have managed what is perhaps more conclusive is that the Act their own cases the taking of testimony has must be so construed as to harmonize with the been somewhat informal also; and the Comseventh amendment to the Federal Constitu- mission has given its aid in the examination of tion, which preserves the right of trial by jury the witnesses produced, in order that the whole in common-law suits.
truth bearing on the matter in controversy It is believed to be unquestionable that par- might as far as possible be brought out and ties can not be deprived of this right through made plain. It is a pleasure to note that in conferring authority to award reparation upon this informal mode of procedure the parties a tribunal that sits without a jury as assistant; have in general most heartily co-operated, and and that therefore any determination that rep- that they have been very liberal in agreeing aration should be made, in a case in which a upon the facts when it was practicable to do suit at law might have been maintained, can so, thereby materially shortening the hearings not be made absolutely binding and enforcible and making them assume more the form of against the defendant in the form of a judg. amicable contentions. ment; but that under the statute it will put the A copy of the rules of procedure adopted by defendant to election, either to satisfy the com the commission under the seventeenth section plainant, in which case he will be relieved of the Act is hereto appended, marked D.* from further liability or penalty, or, on the other hand, to take the risks of proceedings in
VII. EXPENSE OF HEARINGS. a federal court to recover damages or penalty, or both, in which case the finding of the Com- bring witnesses before the Commission, and
The Act provides for compulsory process to mission would be prima facie evidence of the that when summoned they shall be paid for facts recited in it. Abstracts of the decisions made by the Com- office of the Commission to be at the national
their attendance. It requires the principal mission in the cases litigated before it, and capital, and apparently contemplates that its which up to this time it has been enabled to sittings shall in general be there held. It prodecide, are given in an appendix hereto, vides, however, in the nineteenth section that marked B. A brief statement is also made of the proceedings in all the cases begun by for parties may be promoted or delay or expense pre
Whenever the convenience of the public or of the mal complaint, whether already disposed of or vented thereby, the Commission may hold special still pending.
sessions in any part of the United States. It may, In every case in which the Commission made by one or more of the Commissioners, prosecute
any inquiry necessary to its duties in any part of an order against the carrier complained of, the the United States, into any matter or question of carrier has filed notice of its compliance. fact pertaining to the business of any common car
In the course of the hearings before the rier subject to the provisions of this Act. Commission a great body of evidence bas been The Commission understands that witnesses taken, which will remain on file in the office produced by parties to controversies are to be for reference or for any future use for which paid by the parties producing them. This, in there may be occasion,
some cases, where they must come long dis
tances, is a great burden, especially in view of VI. PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE COMMISSION. the fact that the Commission is not given au
thority to tax costs or even to impose the costs It has been deemed exceedingly desirable of the hearing upon the defeated party; and that proceedings before the Commission on the Commission has endeavored to obviate it, complaints against carriers should be made as first by inducing the parties, as far as possible, informal as should be consistent with order to stipulate the facts, and next by providing and regularity, and that dilatory action of for the taking of the testimony by deposition, every nature should be discouraged. The rules after the manner in which it is taken in the of procedure, therefore, which were early federal courts. Where, however, a great adopted and put in force made no other re- number of witnesses are to be examined, it has quirement for a complaint than that it should been deemed advisable to hold the sessions be in the form of a verified petition and set near where the transactions which are to be forth the facts which constitute the grievance inquired into have taken place, not only be complained of. When such a statement has cause this course is least expensive to the parappeared, however informally made, the peti- ties, but because in that way the facts are more tion has been accepted and an answer called likely to be completely brought out. for. Demurrers or motions to dismiss have *See 1 Interstate Commerce Reports, Appendix I. In some cases this course is almost a neces- scribe (if in the opinion of the Commission it is sity: The nature of the questions involved is practicable to prescribe such uniformity and such that they concern large sections of the within which all common carriers subject to the country quite as much as they do the parties provisions of this Act shall have, as near as may be, complainant and defendant, and the case a uniform system of accounts, and the manner in ought to be so conducted that any citizen in which such accounts
shall be kept. whose interests may be affected can make his
In deciding upon the form and requisites of views known. A complainant is often only a this report, so far as it was in the discretion of representative of many interests or of a con- the Commission to do so, three points have siderable district of country, but he may be a been had especially in view: first, to make self chosen representative, and those for whom it as concise as possible consistent with the a decision of his case will constitute a prece information to be furnished; second, to bring dent ought not to be concluded without a hear it as nearly as possible into conformity with ing.
the best forms now required in the reports On the other hand, a railroad company may
called for by state laws or state commis. be rather a nominal than a real defendant; the sions; third, to have the report made as late rate, the classitication, or the practice com- in the year os possible, and still leave time plained of may concern some class of its cus for tabulating and condensing the informatomers who approve of and defend it more
tion furnished in the annual report to be than it does the railroad company itself, and made by the Commission. The date finally the company might be entirely willing
to make fixed upon as that to which the reports of the change demanded but for the fact that its carriers should relate is June 30, wbich is doing so would bring forward a new class of now the date prescribed for like reports in a complainants. Where thus the real controversy number of the States; and it is hoped that is between different interests or different classes without much. delay uniformity may be of the carriers' customers, the propriety of brought about in the reports required under giving to both the real parties a hearing is ob- both federal and state laws, so ibat all may vious; but to make this the most useful and relate to the same time and involve no difsatisfactory it may be necessary to go for the ferent methods of book-keeping for their purpose to the part of the country that is spe.
preparation cially concerned in the controversy.
In deciding upon a form the Commission There are some questions also which from has invited and been aided by suggestions their nature are such that they can be best in. from state railroad commissions, and also vestigated where the business they concern is, from auditors of railroad companies. or where the transactions have taken place out
IX. CLASSIFICATION OF PASSENGERS AND of which they arise. Impressed with this be.
FREIGHT. lief the Commission has held sittings in sev. eral Southern States, and also in Vermont, A number of the complaints made against Minnesota, and Illinois; and some of the cases railway companies have related to the classinow pending might no doubt best be heard at fication of freight. Some of these have still more distant points, but the appropriation sprung from the fact that classifications are at the service of the Commission has not war. not alike in different sections of the country; ranted incurring the necessary expenditures. and parties who have shipped freight under It seems very certain, however, that the best one classification into a section where a difresults can not be attained through sessions ferent classification prevails have found the held altogether at the national capital. charges against them not the same as they
had reason to expect. The ground of others VIII. ANNUAL REPORTS FROM CARIERS. has been that the classification in its effect
upon rates worked an unjust discrimination The twentieth section of the Act provides between shippers or between different classes That the Commission is hereby authorized to re- of freights. quire annual reports from all common carriers subject to the provisions of this Act, to fix the time classification is not adopted by the carriers by
It is greatly to be regretted that the same and prescribe the manner in which such reports shall be made, and to require from such carriers rail in all sections of the country. The de. specific answers to all questions upon which the sirability of uniformity is so great, that the stock issued, the amounts paid therefor, and the legislation should provide for and compel it. reports shall show in detail the amount of capital suggestion is frequently heard that national manner of payment for the same; the dividends If such legislation should be adopted it would paid, the surplus fund, if any, and the number of be necessary to empower some tribunal to and the interest paid thereon; the cost and value make the classification, and the difficulties of the carrier's property, franchises and equip which would attend the making would be ment; the number of employees and the salaries paid each class; the amounts expended for im- very great, Relative rates would be involved provement each year, how expended, and the char: l in it, for classification is the foundation of all acter of such improvements: the earnings and re- rate making. It was very early in the his. ceipts from each branch of business and from all tory of railroads perceived that if these balance of profit and loss, and a complete exhibit agencies of commerce were to accomplish the of the financial operations of the carrier each greatest practicable good, the charges for the year, including an annual balance sheet. Such re-transportation of different articles of freight ports shall also contain such information in re la: could not be apportioned among such articles freights, or agreements, arrangements, or con- by reference to the cost of transporting them tracts with other common carriers, as the Commis- severally, for this, if the apportionment of within its discretion, for the purpose of enabling it cost were possible, would restrict within very the better to carry out the purposes of this Act,pre- | narrow limits the commerce in articles whose bulk or weight was large as compared with steadily reducing the number of different classtheir value.
ifications in the country, and steadily approach. On the system of apportioning the charges ing a condition of things in which there will strictly to the cost, some kinds of commerce be one only. But in these associations, when which have been very useful to the country, in session for the making of rates, each railand have tended greatly to bring its different road official has, to some extent, bad the dissections into more intimate business and social trict which was served by his road behind relations, could never have grown to any him; he has felt the pressure of the interests considerable magnitude, and in some cases there, and contended for them as against the could not have existed at all, for the simple the interests in classification represented by reason that the value at the place of delivery others, not only because it was desirable that would not equal the purchase price with the the road should favor the policy its patrons transportation added. The traffic would thus i favored, but also because the same policy was be precluded, because the charge for carriage likely to be beneficial to both. would be greater than it could bear. On the The result necessarily is that a classificaother hand, the rates for the carriage of arti- tion made by a railroad association represents cles which within small bulk or weight con- a series of compromises, to which not only centrate great value would on that system of the railroad are parties, but in a certain sense making them be absurdly low; low when business interests and sections of country also; compared to the value of the articles, and these in many cases being admitted by their perhaps not less so when the comparison was representatives to the consultations upon a with the value of the service in transporting subject so vitally concerning their interests, them.
and allowed to present their views. This conIt was, therefore, seen not to be unjust to tention of interests still continues to go on in the apportion the whole cost of service among all meetings and conferences, but with a steady the articles transported, upon a basis that tendency in the direction of one uniform class. should consider the relative value of the serv- ification, and there is reason to hope that withice more than the relative cost of carriage. out much further delay all classifications will be Such method of apportionment would be best brought into harmony. If any other tribunal for the country, because it would enlarge were to be given the authority to make classificommerce and extend communication; it cation, it must, if it would exercise its power would be best for the railroads, because it wisely, proceed in much the same way; it must would build up a large business, and it would act deliberately, give all interests an opportunot be unjust to property owners, who would nity to be heard, take into account all the conthus be made to pay in some proportion to siderations which ought to bear upon it; cost benefit received. Such a system of rate of service, interest of sections, equity as bemaking would in principle approximate taxa. tween industries and between classes of pertion; the value of the article carried being the sons, and so on indefinitely. most important element in determining what Whether, therefore, the steady tendency in shall be paid upon it.
the direction of one uniform classification Accordingly, and for convenience and cer- would be hastened by conferring the power to tainty in imposing charges, freight is classi. make one on a national commission is not enfied; that which comes in one class being tirely certain. The work if taken up anew charged a higher proportional rate than that would be one requiring much time for its which is placed in another. But other con proper performance; it would involve a caresiderations besides value must also come in ful consideration of the interests peculiar to when classification is to be made. Some arti- different sections of the country, and a close cles are perishable, some are easily broken, study of the conditions of railroad service as some involve other special risks in carriage, they bear upon such interests. But these consome are bulky, some specially difficult to ditions change from month to month; the handle, and so on. All these are considera classification cannot be permanently the same, tions which may justly affect rates, and there but must be subject to modification on the fore may be taken into account in classifica- same grounds on which it was originally made; tion. But still others have been found potent. the appeals for modification would be as nuEvery section of the country has its peculiar merous as they would be perplexing, because products which it desires to market as wide of the diversity of reasons on which they ly as possible, and is not unwilling that classi- would be grounded. Under the Law as it now fication should be made use of by the rail. is the Commission has appellate powers to corroads which serve it as a means of favoring rect any unjust classification, and it will keep and thus extending the trade in local produc- in view the desirability of general uniformity tions; favoring them by giving them low and do what it properly can to bring about classification and thus low rates, and dis- that result. criminating against those of other sections The classification of passengers has to some through a classification which rated them extent been a subject of complaint to the Commore highly.
mission. Some carriers as a rule have but one It has been in the power of every railroad to rate of passenger transportation, and but one have a classification of its own; but the neces. class of passengers, except as they may be carsities of an interchange of usiness have riers of emigrants in considerable bodies, and brought about agreements, and the railroad they then have emigrant rates which are lower associations have been given the authority to than those given to other persons, and the emmake classifications for all their members. igrants are either given less desirable cars at. Their labors in this direction have been ex tached to the regular truins, or are sent on tremely important and useful; they have been trains by themselves. Other carriers make