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THE INTERNAL COMMERCE OF THE UNITED STATES.
BUREAU OF STATISTICS, June 30, 1877. SIR: The act “making appropriations for the legislative, executive, and judicial expenses of the Government for the year ending June 30, 1876, and for other purposes,"contains the following clause:
It shall be the duty of the officer in charge of the Bureau of Statistics to gather, collate, and annually report to the Secretary of the Treasury, for transmission to Congress, statistics and facts relating to commerce with foreign nations and among the several States, the railroad systems of this and other countries, the construction and operation of railroads, the actual cost of transporting freights and passengers on railroads and on canals, rivers, and other navigable waters of the United States, the charges imposed for such transportation of freight and passengers, and the tonnage transported.
In accordance with the above provisions of law, I have the honor to submit to you for transmission to Congress the accompanying report in relation to internal commerce, prepared under my direction by Mr. Joseph Nimmo, jr.
For information in regard to “commerce with foreign nations,” I respectfully refer to my Annual Report “on the Commerce and Navigation of the United States for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1876," pub. lished in another volume, and to similar reports for preceding years. Respectfully, yours,
Chief of Bureau. Hon. JOHN SHERMAN,
Secretary of the Treasury.
BUREAU OF STATISTICS, June 30, 1877. SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report, which I have prepared under the provisions of the act of March 3, 1875, for the collection of statistical and other information relative to the internal commerce of the United States, and for reporting annually in relation thereto for the information of Congress. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOSEPH NIMMO, JR.,
Chief of Division of Internal Commerce. Hon. EDWARD YOUNG,
Chief of Bureau of Statistics.
Almost from the time of the adoption of the Federal Constitution to the present day, very full and satisfactory statistics of our foreign commerce bave been collected and published, in the document known as the Annual Report on the Commerce and Navigation of the United States. Under the provisions of the act of February 10, 1820, the sta tistics of our foreign commerce were greatly enlarged, and the reports published since that time constitute an exceedingly valuable source of information. But prior to the enactment of the law under which the present work has been executed, no provision had ever been made for the collection of information in regard to our much more important internal commerce. This apparent neglect is attributable to several causes.
At the time of the formation of the Federal Government the term commerce was generally understood to comprehend trade carried on by means of sailing.vessels employed in our coastwise trade and in our trade with foreign nations. The commercial interests of the country were at that time almost exclusively maritime, and our foreign commerce, on account of issues growing out of the war of Independence and of the war of 1812, attracted public attention mach more than did the then comparatively small internal commerce.
The omission to collect information in regard to internal commerce is also attributable to the fact that it has never been a source of national revenue, whereas the Government has largely drawn its means of support from duties laid upon imports from foreign countries.
The fact that the Government has failed to provide for the collection of information in regard to our internal commerce, while attending so carefully to the collection of information, even to matters of detail, in regard to our foreign commerce, has undoubtedly tended to depreciate in the public mind the importance of the former, and unduly to magnify the importance of the latter.
In the progress of the country during the first century of its existence our internal commerce has assumed proportions vastly greater than those of our foreign commerce. Fifty years ago the ocean, the lakes, and navigable rivers constituted the principal avenues of commerce among the States; but during the last twenty-five years railroads have revolutionized all the modes of internal commerce, and changed the direction of its movements. To-day the railroads of the country are the most important avenues of internal commerce. During the year 1876 83 per cent. of all the grain-receipts of the Atlantic sea-ports was by rail, and it is estimated that over 90 per cent. of all the commerce between the West and the seaboard is now carried on over the great trunk railroads.
It is impossible to ascertain the quantity and value of the commodities embraced in our internal commerce in as complete a manner as such information is presented in our annual reports of foreign commerce, since internal commerce, in its fullest signification, embraces every purchase and sale, and every exchange of commodities, between individuals throughout the entire country. But such information in detail, even if collected and published, would be of little practical value. It is, however, quite practicable to procure such characteristic data, and such other information in regard to the principal movements and conditions of our internal commerce, as may be needful for the information of the public and for purposes of legislation.
The relative importance of internal and of foreign commerce may be inferred from the following comparative statements: Estimated value of shipping (American and foreign) employed in our foreign trade........
$200,000,000 Estimated value of the railroads of the United States....
4,600,000,000 The value of the commodities embraced in our foreign commerce and the estimated value of commodities transported on railroads are as follows: Value of imports and exports, (foreign commerce)....
$1, 121, 631, 277 Estimated value of commodities transported on rail, (internal commerce)......
18,000,000,000 It appears from these estimates that the value of the railroads of the country is about twenty-three times the value of the shipping engaged in our foreign trade, and that the value of our internal commerce on railroads is about sixteen times the value of our foreign commerce.
It is to be observed that these comparative statements embrace the value of our entire foreign commerce, whereas the data in regard to internal commerce relate only to railroads. If it were possible to ascertain the value of the commerce between the different sections of the country on the ocean and Gulf and on the lakes, rivers, and other ave. nues of transportation, we should probably find that the total value of our internal commerce is at least twenty-five times greater than the value of our foreign commerce. But the average value per ton of the commodities eomposing the internal commerce of the country being very mach less than the average value of the commodities composing our foreign commerce, it is evident that the tonnage of internal commerce (i. e., employment of the vehicles of transportation) bears a very much bigher ratio to the tonnage of our foreign commerce than does the value of our internal commerce to the value of our foreign commerce. It is probable, therefore, that the tonnage transported on the various avenues of internal commerce is more than one hundred times greater than the tonnage composing our foreign commerce. If in the estimate of tonnage transported we should assume each passenger to be the equiv. alent in car-service of one ton of freight—the estimate sometimes adopted by railroad managers in equating traffic—the relative magnitude of our internal commerce would appear to be very much greater.
A striking contrast exists as to the available means of obtaining information in regard to internal commerce and to foreign commerce. At each one of the custom-houses of the country there are one or more offi. cers of the National Government charged with the duty of furnishing statistics in regard to foreign commerce, at stated times and according to prescribed forms; and there at is Washington a bureau charged with the duty of collating sach information, and of annually reporting in relation thereto for the information of Congress.
The work of collecting and preparing information in regard to internal commerce is, however, attended to at the present time by the small force employed in this division, together with the few experts employed at small rates of compensation at various points throughout the country.
Besides the facts furnished by these experts, the most valuable sources of information are reports of boards of trade and of chambers of commerce, reports of railroad companies, and of railroad commissioners of the various States, and statistics of various kinds farnished by States and by commercial and industrial associations. The statistics published by boards of trade, railroad companies, and State authorities, are presented under a great variety of forms. Some are quite valuable, but others are very meager and defective. From these sources and the information furnished by experts sufficient data bas been obtained for the purpose of illustrating the general course of commerce between the dif. ferent sections of the country.
From the force of the circumstance just alluded to, the present report is necessarily of a general and preliminary character, relating chiefly to the forces and conditions governing the internal commerce of the country and the principal movements of that commerce.
The principal transportation-lines of the United States are delineated upon the maps which may be found at the end of this report. These maps are numbered from 1 to 13, inclusive. The principal trunk rail. roads of the United States are shown ou Map No. 1 and the principal water-lines on Map No. 2.
2.—THE PRINCIPAL TRUNK RAILROADS OF THE UNITED
The trunk railroads herein mentioned are: first, roads connecting the Western States with the North Atlantic States ; second, roads connecting the Western States with the Gulf States; and, third, roads connecting the North Atlantic States with the South Atlantic States and Gulf States.
Map No. 3 represents the Grand Trunk Railway with its branches and principal connections over which commerce is carried on by means of co-operative freight-lines between the Western States and the New England States. The Grand Trunk Railway passes through the States of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine to Portland, the winter-port for the foreign commerce of Montreal during the close of the navigation