An interesting feature developed through the relations which grew up between the railroads and the pipe-lines. In many cases it was necessary to combine the facilities of both, because the pipes reached only part of the way, and from the place where they ended the railroad carried the oil to its final destination. In some instances a railroad had formerly carried the oil the entire distance upon an agreed rate, but now that this oil was partly pumped by pipe-lines and partly carried by rail, the freight payment was divided between the two. But, as a through rate had been provided, the owners of the pipe-line agreed to remit a part of its charges to the railroad, so we had cases where the Standard paid a rebate to the railroad instead of the reverse—but I do not remember having heard any complaint of this coming from the students of these complicated subjects.
The profits of the Standard Oil Company did not come from advantages given by railroads. The railroads, rather, were the ones who profited by the traffic of the Standard Oil Company, and whatever advantage it received in its constant efforts to reduce rates of freight was only one of the many elements of lessening cost to the consumer which enabled us to increase our volume of business the world over because we could reduce the selling price.
How general was the complicated bargaining for rates can hardly be imagined; everyone got the best rate that he could. After the passage of the Interstate Commerce Act, it was learned that many small companies which shipped limited quantities had received lower rates than we had been able to secure, notwithstanding the fact that we had made large investments to provide for terminal facilities, regular shipments, and other economies. I well remember a bright man from Boston who had much to say about rebates and drawbacks. He was an old and experienced merchant, and looked after his affairs with a cautious and watchful eye. He feared that some of his competitors were doing better than he in bargaining for rates, and he delivered himself of this conviction:
“I am opposed on principle to the whole system of rebates and drawbacks—unless I am in it.”
OTHER BUSINESS EXPERIENCES AND BUSINESS PRINCIPLES
Going into the iron-ore fields was one of those experiences in which one finds oneself rather against the will, for it was not a deliberate plan of mine to extend my cares and responsibilities. My connection with iron ores came about through some unfortunate investments in the Northwest country.
These interests had included a good many different industries, mines, steel mills, paper mills, a nail factory, railroads, lumber fields, smelting properties, and other investments about which I have now forgotten. I was a minority stockholder in all these enterprises, and had no part in their management. Not all of them were profitable. As a matter of fact, for a period of years just preceding the panic of 1893, values were more or less inflated, and many people who thought they were wealthy found that the actual facts were quite different from what they had imagined when the hard experiences of that panic forced upon them the unpalatable truth.