Representative William Sulzer, New York.
IN 1894 the railroads carried six hundred and thirty-eight million tons of freight. In 1904 the figures more than doubled and reached the enormous total of one billion three hundred and nine million tons, with aggregate traffic earnings amounting to the enormous total of one billion nine hundred and seventy-seven million six hundred and thirty-eight thousand seven hundred and thirteen dollars. Last year they did a largely increased business, and the figures for 1906 will greatly exceed those of last year.
In 1905 the records show that five hundred and twenty-seven million four hundred and twenty-one thousand passengers were carried: in 1904 the figures increased to seven hundred and fifteen million four hundred and nineteen thousand, and when the reports for last year are at hand a much larger increase will be evident. The figures are bewildering and the facts as startling as they are astonishing; and the end is not yet.
To transport this vast number of passengers and gigantic amount of freight, including all varieties of foodstuffs, there were utilized forty-seven thousand engines, forty thousand passenger-cars, and one million seven hundred and sixty thousand freight-cars. In the operation of this great network of railways more than one million two hundred and fifty thousand men are directly employed, of which fifty-two thousand are engine-drivers, fifty-five thousand firemen, forty thousand conductors, and one hundred and six thousand trainmen.
Of course, I know figures are usually uninteresting; but these figures are alive with human interest and full of flesh and blood activity, because they have to do not only with men and measures, but also with our national commercial life and our fundamental political and industrial institutions, which should safeguard the interests of all the people - but more often do not - and the home life, and the very existence of every man who works for a livelihood and earns his bread in the sweat of his face.
The rapid growth of our interstate common-carrier systems during the past quarter of a century has been simply marvelous, and the tremendous power they wield to-day in the intimate political and social and economic life of the country is truly inconceivable.
The average man who rides on a railroad train in comfort and in luxury to a distant point has little conception of how the railway affects even the most intimate details of his existence.
STORY OF A CENTURY.
Senator Henry C. Lodge, Massachusetts.
IN no country in the world do railroads occupy the same place which they have occupied in America. Steam and electricity have produced throughout the world a revolution - social, political, and economic - which cannot be paralleled in its effect upon the human race except by that wrought in the condition of mankind through such discoveries as those of the control and application of fire, or the invention of the wheel, the origin of which is lost in the mists of time.
In the earliest civilizations, in those of Egypt, Chaldea, and Assyria, which modern archeology is laying bare before our wondering gaze, we find men already possessed of all the means of transportation which were practically known to the world less than a hundred years ago. Land transportation was carried on by men or animals and water transportation by sail or oar. Power was supplied in the one case by the muscles of men or animals, in the other by muscular force or by the winds of heaven.
So deeply was this fact impressed upon the human mind that we still reckon the motive power of steam and electricity in terms of the horse. Seas, rivers, and canals, in the earliest times of which we have historic record, furnished the waterways, and rude trails trodden out first by the feet of men or horses, and developed gradually into constructed roads and paved streets, supplied the land routes.
From the dawn of history to the beginning of the nineteenth century there was no change in these methods of transportation. There was a slow improvement in sea-going vessels, but it seems probable, if not certain, that the roads of the Roman Empire furnished a better and more complete system of transportation and communication than was to be found in Europe in the Middle Ages or even as late as the eighteenth century.
In means and modes of communication and transportation, which not only influence profoundly human society, but upon which that society largely rests, the men who fought at Waterloo were nearer to those who fought at Thermopylae than they were to those who engaged in battle at Gettysburg, at Sedan, or at Mukden.
THEY MADE THE COUNTRY.
Representative Fred C. Stevens, Minnesota.
The railroad interests have been the chief factors in the wonderful development of our country. In the enormous progress in every line of material endeavor the railroad managers have done more than their full share, so that at the present time the prosperity of our country is mingled inextricably with that of the great transportation interests of the land.
It is by the boldness and genius of our railway managers that our vast wildernesses have been traversed, our mountains have been pierced, and the uttermost parts of a common country inspired by a common patriotic sympathy.
By the construction of great railway systems the old frontiers have been eliminated and the markets of the world brought to the bold pioneers of our fertile prairies.
This development has become so interlinked with the universal interests that the prosperity of the railways and people are mutual. Any injury to one is certain to react upon the other. Both must prosper or fall together.
We have by far the largest internal commerce of any nation in the world, amounting to more than twenty-two lion dollars annually, of which more than thirteen billions is of manufactures, six billion four hundred millions of agriculture, one billion six hundred millions of mineral products, and seven hundred millions of forest, fisheries, and miscellaneous.
And a very large part of this most splendid production and development depends f9r its chief value upon the facility and cheapness to reach profitable markets. This is provided by the railway systems of the country. So that a very large part of our population has become dependent upon the progressive excellence of our railroads, which have developed into the most efficient in the world, with the least expense on the average to the patrons.
SEVENTY YEARS' GROWTH.
Representative Burton L. French, Idaho.
THE development of the railroad industry in the United States has been phenomenal. Five times a Presidential election occurred prior to the application of steam to the navigation of boats upon our waterways. Eleven elections of Presidents had passed by before the first railroad had been built. Since then scarcely more than three-quarters of a century have passed away, and yet our railway systems are essential to our nation's welfare.
They have become the highways of commerce, tile great thoroughfares of trade. The canvas-covered wagon belongs to history, and the stage-coach is making its last run. Our railroads are extending their ramifications throughout all sections. They bind the East to the West, the North to the South. They make us all neighbors.
You step upon the cars at Golden Gate and in a few hours more than half a week have crossed a continent and look out upon the waters lighted by the Statue of Liberty. The annual receipts for the business that they do approximate two billion dollars.
They have done more than any other industrial force for the enlightening of our people and the harmonious development of our land. Not only this, but the railroads of the United States in equipment and in management are the wonder and the admiration of the world.
SAVED BY THE RAILROADS.
Representative S. W. McCall, Mass.
THE striking feature in the American railroad system has been the remarkable development of the low long-distance rate, which has made of the country a common market and has stimulated trade between its most remote parts.
The enormous expansion following the Civil War was succeeded by the severe financial crisis of 1873, and for a half-dozen years the country was in the gloom of a profound depression. There were armies of unemployed in the factory cities of the East, vast numbers of immigrants seeking employment who had poured into the country during the years of its apparent prosperity.
Our industrial collapse would have been even more serious and profound had it not been for the policy of our roads. New lines have been opened up through rich areas; inhabited only by the buffalo and the wolf. But in spite of tile fact that the price of wheat had fallen thirty per cent, the railroads established such low rates to the seaboard that the lands were quickly put under the plow, and a great portion of the surplus population of the East was transferred to the farms of the West.
Nearly the entire wheat crop of some of the States beyond the Mississippi found market on the other side of the Atlantic.
BROTHERHOOD OF LABOR.
Representative W. B. Cockran, N.Y.
A FEW years ago, while on a journey to Scotland, I woke up at day-break in the limits of Carlisle - that "merrie Carlisle" so often sung in border balladry - Carlisle, whither captives in border warfare were brought in triumph to be hung on the gallows-tree while all the countryside made festival and holiday - and as I looked from the window of my compartment, the train having stopped for a moment, I saw a man who embodied to me the whole march of progress for eighteen centuries. He could not be called an imposing figure, according to the canons of literary description; his face was grimy, his hands were black, and he stood at a switch, his eyes fastened on the train and the rails before him. He was but a switchman, a common laborer whose clothes were shabby.
Yet was he a sublime figure, for I knew that he was not an enemy dogging my footsteps, to rob me, beat me, capture me, or kill me, but he was a brother serving me faithfully, watching vigilantly over my safety while I slept, and he typified the difference between the Carlisle of three centuries ago and the Carlisle of to-day - the difference between the civilization which we enjoy and that lower civilization from which humanity has risen through the wider operation of Christian influences.
THE LIFE OF COMMERCE.
Representative Eaton J. Bowers, Mississippi.
THE transportation question is the greatest industrial problem confronting the people of America or any other country. Transportation is the life of commerce, and the utilities by which it is carried out are the arteries through which the life-blood of traffic and business flows.
Just in the same proportion that transportation is developed, facilities multiplied, and highways bettered and increased, the general business and prosperity of the whole country advances. The existence of safe, convenient, and economical means of carriage will rapidly develop any section or industry.