« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
constructed from various points on those rivers south and west. The principal southern railway connections pass through the city of Louisville, and embrace the Louisville, Nashville and Great Southern Railroad, the interests of which road are intimately identified with the iuterests of Louisville, the chief commercial competitor of Cincinnati for the trade of the States south of the Ohio River. The importance of a direct southern communication was appreciated by the people of Cinciunati for several years. After a long struggle the rigbt of way was secured tbrough the States of Kentucky and Tennessee, and the road is now far advanced towards completion. It will connect at Chattanooga with railroads radiating into all parts of the South Atlantic and Gulf States. The facts in regard to this line have been mainly furnished to this Department by Mr. Sidney D. Maxwell, superintendent of the Cincinnati Chaniber of Commerce.
The Cincinnati Southern Railroad is 336 miles long, and is being con. structed by the city of Cincinnati in its municipal capacity, through a board of five trustees, under the authority and provisions of an act of the legislature of the State of Ohio. Its control, in the interests of Cincinnati, will be provided for and protected under the form of management which may hereafter be adopted. The road, when completed, will form a connecting link between a large number of lines at both its termini, with all of which, important traffic-arrangements can, under proper management, be made. The gauge of the road is fire feet, which is the gange of nearly all the roads south of the Ohio River. It is believed that a branch line will soon be constructed to Knoxville, Tenn., where a connection will be formed with the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, and also with the railroads of North Carolina and South Carolina by means of roads already projected from the seaboard. It is also expected that other lateral lines will be constructed.
The north-bound freights over this road will embrace cotton, rice, sugar, molasses, tobacco, hogs, cattle, fruits, timber, coal, iron-ores, pig metal, copper, tin, lead, zinc, and other mineral products of the South, together with such merchandise as may be received from South Amer. ica and the West Indies through South Atlantic and Gulf ports. The south-bound freights will consist principally of the extensive and varied products of Cincinnati industry, and of the manufactures and agricultural products of the adjacent country, embracing the entire State of Ohio.
It is believed that the tonnage of south-bound freights will predominate. The Louisville and Nashville Railroad, which is situated similarly to the Cincinnati and Southern Railroad, carries about seven tons of south-bound freights to four tons of north-bound freight. It is believed, therefore, in view of the rapidly-increasing movement of cotton overland from the Gulf States to the North Atlantic States, that the available car-space will naturally lead to the development of a large cotton traffic.
Heretofore the most profitable commercial movements developed by
the railroad system have taken the general direction of the parallels of latitude. It is believed, however, that during the next twenty years there will be a rapid development of traffic in this country over roads in the lines of the meridians.
The practical question as to the feasibility of constructing any new line is, Will it pay? Many roads have been constructed which have yielded a fair rate of profit on the capital invested in them, even where the traffic did not require one-fourth of their full capacity.
But there is another consideration of very much greater weight, which bas led the people of this country, through individual subscriptions or through aid extended by cities, by States, and by the National Government, to promote the construction of railroads, and that is the development of commerce and the enhancement of the value of property along their lines and at their termini. In the highest sense railroads are productive enterprises, and even in cases where stockholders have lost their entire rentures, the increased value of property adjacent to their lines and the development of commerce have announted to far more than the total cost of construction.
A new railroad connection naturally brings to a commercial city a large trade through the development of local traffic and by securing to its commercial interests an ally bound to it by the tie of self-interest.
The traffic which may be secured by the construction of the Cincinnati Southern Railway will embrace all the business which its management may be able to secure by means of connections and combinations of various sorts formed with the railroads extending into all parts of the South Atlantic and Gulf States, and the trade which the merchants and manufacturers of Cincinnati may be able to develop, at all points, from the Obio River to the Gulf of Mexico.
The strength of a commercial city is limited by the geographical extent of its competitive influences, and the people of Cincinnati appear to have appreciated this fact in their efforts to secure an independent southern connection. The results of their new enterprise will be regarded with great interest.
LAND-GRANTS AND OTHER FORMS OF AID EXTENDED BY THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT FOR THE CONSTRUCTION AND MAINTENANCE OF HIGHWAYS OF COMMERCE.
Prior to the period of railway construction in the United States, the development of that vast and fertile area of the national domain lying west of the Alleghany Mountains was confined to comparatively narrow limits within the territory bordering upon the lakes, the Mississippi River and its navigable tributaries, and certain canals in the States of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. The development of the Western and Northwestern States is, however, due mainly to the construction of railroads, 34,400 miles of road baving already been constructed in these States.
The advantages to be derived from the construction of railroads in the Western States were clearly foreseen duriug the very infancy of railway enterprises in this country. The fertility of the soil, the favorable to. pographical features of the country for railway construction, and the faith even at that early day entertained in the possibilities of travel and of transport by rail led to a demand for railway construction, not only to meet the requirements of existing commerce, but for the purpose of inviting immigration and of developing virgin soils. There being at that time no available capital in the Western States and Territories for carrying forward enterprises of such magnitude, the construction of railroads depended almost entirely upon aid from abroad, and even to this day a very large proportion of the capital invested in western rail roads is held by capitalists residing in the older States and in foreign countries.
In the year 1850 the National Government inaugurated the policy of granting lands in aid of railway construction at the West, the system adopted being that of donating to the roads alternate sections of land. This policy was based upon two fundamental considerations, viz, first, (and the most important one,) that of inviting immigration; and, second, that the lands retained by the Government would be enhanced in value sufficiently to compensate for the lands donated to the companies. Both these expectations have been fully realized.
For nearly twenty years public sentiment very strongly favored the extension of the railway system throughout the Western States and Territories at almost any cost and by the adoption of alınost any practicable expedient. This sentiment found expression not only in grants of land by the Federal Government, but also in the extension of liberal donations, privileges, immunities, and aids of various sorts, by States, counties, cities, and towns throughout the West. Perhaps there has never been a measure of public policy which has commanded more general favor in this country than did that of donating the public lands in aid of the construction of railroads. In fact, for many years the people were more willing to grant lands in favor of railway construction than the projectors of such enterprises were able to avail them. selves of the aid extended. This is indicated by the fact that at the close of the fiscal year ending June 30, 1876, orer four million acres of land granted for railroad purposes had reverted to the Government.
It appears that at the close of the year 1876 there had been donated by Congress to other than Pacific Railroads 37,504,087 acres of land, of which only 33,700,629 acres had been patented, and that there had been granted to Pacific Railroads 150,281,766 acres, of which only 8,339,491 acres had been patented. Tables showing the quantity of land granted to each railroad and to each State may be found on pages 237 to 240 of the Appendix.
Besides the land-grants in aid of the construction of railroads, Congress has also authorized the issue of bonds of the Government, for the parpose of aiding in the construction of certain roads known as Pacific Railroads. The amount of these subsidies is presented in the monthly statements of the public debt of the ed States.
The following statement is compiled from the statement for the month of December, 1876 : Principal outstanding ...
$64, 623, 512 00 Interest accrued and not yet paid
1,938, 705 36 Interest paid, less repaid for transportation of the mails.
25, 075, 710 96
91, 637, 928 32
Estimating the value of all the public lands granted and actually patented at $1.25 per acre, it appears that the aid extended in behalf of railway construction at the West amounts to $52,575, 150, which, added to the amount in the form of loans to Pacific Railroads, gives a total of $144,213,078. The granting of the immense subsidies in aid of the Pacific Railroads was dictated by political as well as commercial considerations.
The governmental policy of land-grants was designed to meet a great public exigency such as had never before presented itself in the history of any civilized nation. This was nothing less than the opening up to civilization and to commerce of a territory larger than all the countries of Europe, except Russia, combined, and surpassing those coun: tries in the value of its resourcos of soil and mine and in its adaptation of climate to populous and enterprising States.
It is not surprising that mistakes were made in carrying out this line of policy which from the force of circumstances was tentative in all its features. In certain cases there was a failure to adopt proper safeguards for the protection of the public interests, and it is a matter of notoriety that a part of the proceeds from the lands granted and bonds issued was, through profligate and dishonest financiering, either squandered or misappropriated. Circumstances of this character at one time caused the name of “Pacific Railroad” to become almost a synonym for fraud and official corruption. Statutory provisions adopted for the protection of the public interests proved in certain cases to be ineffectual. This was due in some measure to the fact that the several States which acted as agents of the National Government in the distribution of lands failed to adopt proper safeguards for the faithful application of the grants to the purposes intended. But counties, cities, and towns, in their corporate capacities, also made serious mistakes in their haste to advance the construction of railroads.
The abuses of public benefactions at last aroused a sentiment of opposition to the policy of granting aid in any form to railroad companies, and it is probable that no further assistance will be extended by the National Government, unless it be for the purpose of developing unsettled territory or for the construction of additional railroads designed to connect the Pacific coast with the States of the Atlantic seaboard, and under conditions which experience has proved to be necessary for protecting the public interests. But the granting of public lands to railroads must in the nature of things soon come to an end from the fact that such lands have been very largely disposed of.
There has been little occasion for the extension of governmental aid in behalf of the construction of railroads in the settled States, private en. terprise baving in this respect outrun the demands of commerce. The policy of granting aid by the National Government for the promotion of railroad construction in the Western States and in the Territories must therefore be regarded as exceptional and temporary, such interposition being based upon the important object of opening up vast undeveloped resources and of paving the way for the march of enterprise. In the prosecution of this policy, the Government has simply taken a step in advance for the protection and encouragement of the pioneer.
The growing wealth and commerce of the States of the Pacific slope, and the importance of affording to that section of the country facilities for commercial intercourse with the eastern side of the continent sug. gest the importance of extending such governmental encouragement as will insure the completion of a Northern and of a Southern Pacific Railroad. Works of this nature were inaugurated under the patronage of the Government several years ago, but their progress has been arrested in consequence of results of the finaucial crisis of 1873. Both these enterprises now commend themselves to favor by important commercial and political considerations.
The evils incident to land-grants and other forms of governmental aid are now obvious to all, but the wisdom of the policy heretofore pursued bas been fully vindicated by an immense increase of population and of wealth and by an unparalleled development of commerce through. out that vast and fertile domain which fifty years ago was occupied only by savage tribes. The results realized vastly exceed the value of all the donations and loans. In view of tbe fact that errors and abuses inevitably spring up in the course of the development of every new public enterprise, it is a subject for congratulation that the net results of the policy of land-grants bave been so grand already, and that there is the promise of even larger results in the future.
Besides the aid extended by the National Government for the promotion of commerce and the development of unsettled territory, in the form of land-grants and the extension of its credit in behalf of the construction of Pacific railroads, Congress has also, from time to time, since the organization of the Government, contributed largely towards the improvement of rivers and harbors, the safety of navigation, and the construction of wagon-roads and canals. The value of all these aids, and the proportion which they bear to the amount of private capital