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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/350

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

panies which has produced the Interstate Commerce law, lies unconsciously far deeper than that. It lies in the fact that the laws of trade invariably select the same points for trade-centers that Nature herself has first selected. New York, Boston, Baltimore, New Orleans, San Francisco were trade-centers before railroads were devised. When a trade-center was wanted on Lake Michigan, Chicago was selected, not by men, but by the force of natural laws. What the capitalists called a "swamp," and so avoided, was really a business plain. Sand drifted in, and built a bar before Michigan City; at certain other lake points the bluff, crumbling constantly into the lake, imperiled the harbors; other natural causes worked away at others. The cosmic forces were at work in favor of Chicago, and Chicago was elected trade-center of the majestic West. In other words, it is simply because it can not dispense with the discriminations of Nature that the people are disappointed with the railway as an institution, and so propose to vent their disappointment by enacting laws bristling with penalties, but nowhere promising them protection; putting their affairs into the hands of non-experts, and calling them to penal and paternal account for every breath they draw. If Senator Cullom seriously believes that the railroads have created the trade-centers of this continent arbitrarily, let him tell us why every railroad company in the country is willing to spend millions of dollars in order to get into such cities as New York and Chicago? Could a railroad create a trade-center as easily as Senator Cullom imagines, it would certainly come cheaper to that company to make a trade-center of their own than to buy their way—against every known legal, commercial, political, and geographical obstacle—into one already established.

The Pennsylvania Railroad Company was built by Philadelphia capital; certainly it did not desire to discriminate against Philadelphia. If railroads can make trade-centers where they like why did not the Pennsylvania Railroad create a trade-center for itself in its own City of Brotherly Love? The Lehigh Valley Railroad Company is a loyal Pennsylvania corporation, and its owners are natives there and to the manor born. Why did not the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company make for itself trade-centers on its own line, where land was cheap, instead of crowding into New York City at one end and into Buffalo at the other, at enormous cost? The Grand Trunk Railway is a British institution built to foster the interests of Great Britain's greatest colony, at the direct expense of its greatest commercial rival in the world's family of nations—the United States; why does not the Grand Trunk road make for itself commercial centers at Montreal or Toronto or Hamilton or Ottawa or Windsor? Why has it spent millions of good honest British gold in buying its way into Chicago at one end and Boston at the other? If, the moment railways were organized, they set the laws of Nature and of man alike at defiance, and began "to divert trade from its natural channels into artificial