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Corn.—The principal competitors of the United States in the British corn market, as appears from the table on page 236 of the Appendix, are Turkey, Russia, Wallachia, Moldavia, Austria, Morocco, France, Egypt, and Italy. The importation of corn from the United States into Great Britain, although an exceedingly fluctuating trade, exhibits, on the whole, a very considerable increase. Including in the imports of corn from the United States into Great Britain the corn imported from British North Amarica, all of which is produced in the United States and exported via Montreal, it appears that during the five years from 1862 to 1866 there was imported into Great Britain from the United States 43,254,899 bushels of corn, and during the five years from 1870 to 1874 there was imported from the United States 107,331,383 bushels. The imports of corn from the United States during the first period of five years amounted to only 44 per cent. of the total imports, but during the last five years they amounted to 57 per cent. of the total imports. This indicates a large increase in the exportation of corn from the United States to Great Britain.
The following table shows the quantity of corn and corn-meal imported into Great Britain from the United States, the percentage of the whole quantity imported from the United States, the average value of the total quantity of corn imported, and the average value of the corn im. ported from the United States.
Statement showing the quantity of corn and corn-meal imported into the United Kingdom
(England, Ireland, and Scotland) from 1860 to 1874, inolusive, with the quantity of the same imported from the United States.
(Compiled from the British reports of Trade and Navigation.)
Corn being a commodity of low value, there appears to be good reason to believe that if the low freight-rates which have prevailed on the transportation-lines of the United States from the corn-producing area to the seaboard shall continue, there will be a great increase in the exportation of corn to Great Britain and other foreign countries. The fall in
the average freight-charges for the transportation of corn from Chicago to New York from 26.6 cents per bushel in 1872 to 8.6 cents per busbel in 1876 has been the chief cause of the great increase of our export of corn to foreign countries.
COMPARATIVE PRODUCTION AND CONSUMPTION OF BREADSTUFFS IN
GREAT BRITAIN AND IN THE UNITED STATES.
It is a matter of interest in this connection to note the differences as . to the sources of supply of wheat and corn and the consumption of those grains in Great Britain and in the United States—the two principal commercial nations of the globe.
The estimated amount of the wheat-crop of Great Britain, according to the latest returns, is 99,918,400 bushels, and that of the United States 292,136,000 bushels. The annual consumption in England amounts to about 184,000,000 bushels, and in the United States to about 218,000,000 bushels. The population of the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and adjacent islands) is about 33,000,000, and the popu. lation of the United States is about 43,000,000. During the year 1876 there was produced within the United Kingdom only about one-half of the entire quantity of wheat consumed in that country, or about 92,000,000 bushels, and about the same amount was imported from other countries. There was, however, produced within the United States, during the year ending June 30, 1876, a sufficient supply of wheat for its entire population, and besides a surplus of 74,750,682 bushels, or 26 per cent. of the entire crop which was exported to foreign countries.
Great Britain depends entirely upon other countries for her immense supply of corn, the consumption during the year 1876 having amounted to 73,000,000 bushels, the estimated cost of which in England was $75,000,000 ; whereas during the last crop-year of which a record bas been made it appears that the United States produced 1,321,069,000 bushels, of which about 1,270,000,000 bushels were consumed in this country, and 50,910,532 bushels, or only 4 per cent., was exported. The corn-crop, however, indirectly contributes very much more than this to the exports of the United States in the form of spirits, beef, pork, provisions, and products of animals of various kinds.
The amount of grain which can be exported from the United States to Great Britain depends apon several circumstances, among which may be mentioned the abundance or scarcity of the crops in all the surplus. grain-producing countries, the cost of internal transportation in every country from which she draws her supplies, the cost of ocean-transportation from those countries, and all the circumstances bearing upon the prosperity of her commercial and manufacturing interests.
The facts embraced in the following extract from a recent letter addressed to this Department by Mr. George U. Porter, secretary of the Baltimore Board of Trade, are of interest in this connection :
The increased export-trade in wheat and corn from the United States during the last two years is doubtless in part to be attributed to the low rates of interior transporta
tion, which has enabled the western producers to compete successfully with the production of other nations in the English markets, and the low prices wbich have there prevailed have caused increased consumption, particularly of corn, which, at 278. per quarter, would be fed more largely than at 308., and at any higher figure the quantity would decrease. In regard to wheat, the “ western spring" comes into competition inore nearly with the Russian product in the English markets, and is growing in favor, so much so that several of the largest houses previously engaged in importing the Russian wheat have of late turned their attention to the United States.
The winter-wheat crop is smaller, being confined to the belt of central States, and there has been very little surplus of this description over home wants for several years ; hence the light export of it.
To sum up tho matter : everything which has tended to cheapen the cost at the seaboard ports has contributed to enable our country to find a market for its surplus production of wheat and corn abroad in competition with all other producing countries. I think, however, that the very low freights which provailed inland have inured more directly to the advantage of the western producers than to any other interest.
It appears from very recent information that the average weekly consumption of Indian corn in the United Kingdom during the year 1876 was 1,390,730 bushels, as against 771,078 bushels in 1875, an increased consumption of 80 per cent. in one year; which appears to have been attributable largely to the reduction in the cost of corn, mainly in conse. quence of reduced cost of transportation.
COMPARATIVE MAGNITUDE OF THE HOME AND THE FOREIGN GRAIN
Notwithstanding the great value of the grain-export trade of tlie United States and the prominent position which our country maintains with respect to this trade in the grain-markets of the world, it is a mat. ter of interest to advert to the fact that the home market is very much more important than the foreign market. According to a careful computation made by the Senate Committee on Transportation, it was ascertained that during the year 1872, there was produced within the States of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Kansas, Ne. braska, Iowa, and Minnesota 1,028,987,000 bushels of grain of all kinds, of which there was consumed in those States 815,955,574 bushels, and shipped out of them 213,021,426 bushels. Of this latter amount, repre. senting surplus production, there was shipped to other States in this country 138,660,648 bushels, and exported to foreign countries, 74,360,778 bushels. The quantity exported appears to have been only about one: half the quantity shipped to home markets, and to have constituted ouly about 7 per cent. of the entire grain-crop of the United States. This atfords another illustration of the statement made at the beginning of this report, that the internal commerce of the United States is of very much greater iinportance than the foreign commerce.
STATISTICS OF THE FOREIGN COMMERCE OF THE UNITED STATES.
The following table indicates the value of the inports and exports of the United States from 1790 to 1876, the value in both cases being stated in gold. Net imports are given, i. e., the value of the total imports, less the value of foreign merchandise afterward exported, and which, of course, does not properly constitute a par of the foreign trade of the Uuited States :
Statement exhibiting the gro88 specie value of imports and exports from September 30, 1790,
to June 30, 1876.
9.-THE REGULATION OF THE RAILROADS BY THE STATE.
The construction of railroads has forced its way against the prejudices, the opposing interests, and the habits of the world, strengthened by the usages of centuries. But it was not to have been expected that an intruder so vigorous and of such marked peculiarities could pass through the various stages of development without much frictional resistance and a great deal of direct opposition.
The difficulties touching the relations of the railroads to the publichave arisen in part from the clashing of the interests of the companies. with those of individuals, but to a much greater extent as the result of those larger questions of a public character, growing out of the dual nature of railroads as public highways and as commercial enterprises. Even at this day the relations of the railroads to the public interests are not fully determined. Within the last three years the people of several of the States have been brought face to face with fundamental questions of public policy touching the duties and the rights of railroad corpo. rations.
In regard to this many-sided question, affecting so many vital interests, it is not strange that widely different views should have been entertained nor that a great variety of expedients should bave been proposed for the correction of abuses. The views which have been advanced em. brace constitutional and legal, commercial and economic questions. The present consideration of the subject is confined mainly to its commercial and economic bearings.
Soon after the railroad became an assured success, the enterprise, the capital, and the inventive genius of the world were earnestly enlisted in the development and utilization of the new invention. Extravagant and, as it now appears, absurd notions were at first entertained in re. gard to the possibilities of railroads. A period of wild railroad speculation followed. Public sentiment being strongly enlisted in favor of the new mode of transport and of travel, obstacles to the success of railroad enterprises were for a long time set aside by the force of public opinion acting through the legislatures and the courts. In several of the States of this conntry railroads were constructed recklessly, and far in advance of the actual needs of commerce.
In all the States of the Union, the railroad system has grown up under the principle of independent corporate ownership. At first, railroad charters were granted by special legislation, but afterward, in many of the States, by the provisions of general railroad laws. The extension of the rule of constitutional law enunciated in the Dartmouth College case to railway charters gave to the companies almost unlimited power in regard to the establishment of rates and fares, and enabled them in many cases to impose such charges and to make such discriminations as their caprices or their views of policy might dictate. It is not strange, therefore, that the incipiency of railroad enterprises was characterized by gigantic blunders and serious abuses.
The railroad companies themselves, as well as the public, have suf fered from the effects of inexperience. Errors of judgment, involving the loss of millions of dollars, have been made in the location, the construction, and the management of railroads, and in the advancement of the system in all its interests and relations. Perhaps the most serious losses have resulted from mistakes and dishonorable exploits in railway financiering. It is stated upon good authority that at the close of the year 1876 the total bonds, stock, and debt of railroads in the United States amounted to $4,775,000,000, and that of this enormous sum 38 per cent., or $1,800,000,000, is represented by railroads in default, and is wholly un. productive to the investors. Besides this, there are many railroads in the country which manage to pay the interest upon their bonded indebtedness, but which pay no dividends, or very small ones, upon thei stock. This has caused an enormous shrinkage in the value of the stock of such roads. It is estimated that the actual shrinkage or loss in rail. road property amounts to fully 50 per cent. of the entire capital of the railroads of the country, or to about $2,387,000,000, a sum exceeding the national debt of the United States.
Every improvement in the art of railroad construction and management has involved an enormous waste of capital and of effort, and the system bas in every phase of its existence advanced toward its present stage of progress through the slow and oftentimes discouraging process of experiment. These things have been unavoidable incidents of a tentative period. But through all these difficulties, abuses, and discouragements, the railroad system has steadily advanced until it has become deeply rooted in the social, commercial, and political organization of society. The habits of the people have also been rad.