Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/148

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

ically. There arose, as a consequence, certain types of problems, certain species of acts, to which no special law seemed to apply, which left their authors in the possession of concerns working in a no-man's-land. To meet this serious difficulty it has been proposed on one side that there shall be a marked increase of federal authority which will deal with all such problems, and on the other there has been insistence that the sanctity of the constitution shall be maintained, the sacredness of the judiciary upheld, and the doctrine of the division of powers kept intact.

Those who believe in an increase of federal authority have maintained that the union is a federal one, that the sovereignty of the states never existed, and that with their present authority and power they are merely nuisances clogging the way of the federal government. There is no question that a series of difficult problems have arisen which demand a wider interpretation of federal authority, but the attitude just mentioned would result in the reduction of the states to mere local administrative units with no more power and authority than that possessed by a county or township. It is declared that the conservation of resources is so important that state lines ought not to be taken into consideration in dealing with the problem, while interstate commerce and the questions that are associated with it make it impossible, if we are to be a great commercial nation, to recognize that state authority over commerce and trade exists within certain boundaries.

Such, briefly stated, is the controversy; in its final solution the whole theory of American government is carried with it. In the course of the discussion it will be necessary to examine some of the experiences and outcomes of federal legislation, and to present, if there be any other point of view, what can be done in the development of cooperation between the two branches of government rather than subordination of one as compared with the other.

Over and above every other problem of a national character, in its importance from the point of view of the public, stands, in all probability, that of interstate commerce. The legislation and various attempts at legislation in this connection cover a period of forty years. In the year 1872 Mr. Regan, a congressman from the state of Texas, presented a bill regulating interstate commerce carried on railways. The bill was the outcome of grievances and difficulties arising from the attempts of the various states to secure some betterment of transportation facilities, lower rates and better methods of carrying on the business. Annually for more than fifteen years this bill made its appearance in congress, and it was not until 1887 that the interstate commerce act was passed regulating railroads and railroad rates. Despite the complaints that were made regarding the inefficiency of this law, and the difficulty of bringing under it many of the problems that arose, no other legislation took place until the year 1903, and since then the law has been modified in 1907 and 1910.