Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/414

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THE recent consolidation of competing lines of telegraph into one gigantic corporation, and the consequent agitation of the question of Government control by the public press, Boards of Trade, and in Congress, make an inquiry into the subject of postal telegraphs, at the present time, of unusual interest.

In determining the question as to whether the United States should constitute this means of communication a part of the general postal system, the first important consideration is, whether such action is authorized by the Constitution; secondly, whether such control has proved a success in the several countries where it is thus organized; and, finally, whether a beneficial result is likely to follow from similar action in this country.

As to the first proposition, there can be no doubt. That clause of the Constitution wherein this authority is granted is found in section 8 of Article I, in this language: "Congress shall have power ... to establish post-offices and post-roads." By this comprehensive and explicit declaration, the framers of the Constitution, without doubt, intended to lodge with the General Government the exclusive privilege of regulating and conducting the transmission of intelligence among its citizens—in other words, the intent was to give to the General Government the exclusive monopoly of the postal service, by which was meant the interchange of intelligence, not only by the methods then in use, but also by the use of improved methods thereafter devised and adopted. This opinion is sustained by the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of The Pensacola Telegraph Company vs. The Western Union Telegraph Company (6 Otto), in which the Court says: "Post-offices and post-roads are established to facilitate the transmission of intelligence. Both commerce and the postal service are placed within the power of Congress, because, being national in their operation, they should be under the protecting care of the national Government." That these views are sound is too plain to be doubted. Continuing, however, the Court touches upon the very point in question—the telegraph: "The powers thus granted are not confined to the instrumentalities of commerce, or of the postal service, known or in use when the Constitution was adopted; but they keep pace with the progress of the country, and adapt themselves to the new developments of time and circumstances. They extend from the horse with its rider to the stage-coach, from the sailing-vessel to the steamboat, from the coach and steamboat to the railroad, and from the railroad to the telegraph, as these new agencies are successively brought into use to meet the demands of increasing population and wealth. They were