Might it not be possible to extend the jurisdiction of the Commission over all American vessels engaged in foreign trade, and with such ships alone—they alone being fully amenable to our law —permit the railroad which carries to the port to make through joint rates to the foreign point of destination? There is so vast a volume of this through traffic that the preference which could thus be given to the American ship would act as a most substantial subsidy. There may be objections to this suggestion arising either out of national or international policy which render it unworthy of further consideration. It has appealed to me, however, as possibly containing the germ of what Mr. Webster would have termed a “respectable idea.” Faithfully yours,
FRANKLIN K. LANE
TO E. B. BEARD
Washington, December 19, 1908
My dear Mr. Beard,—I have not seen the article in the call, to which you refer, but have heard of it from a couple of Californians, much to my distress. Of course I appreciate that at a time of strain such as that which you shippers and business men of California are now undergoing, it is to be expected that the most conservative language will not be used. ... The trouble is with the law. ... It is only upon complaint that an order can be made reducing a rate, and I understand that such complaints are at present being drafted in San Francisco and will in time come before us but such matters cannot be brought to issue in a week nor heard in a day, and when I tell you that we have on hand four hundred cases, at the present time, you will appreciate how great the volume of our work is, and that you are not alone in your feeling of indignation or of distress. If you will examine the docket of the Commission, you will find that the cases of the Pacific Coast have been taken care of more promptly within the last two years than the cases in any other part of the United States. I have seen to this myself, because of the long neglect of that part of the country. ...
I want to speak one direct personal word to you. You are now protesting against increased rates. I have outlined to you the only remedy [a change in the law] that I see available against the continuance of just such a policy on the part of the railroads, and I think it might be well for you to see that the Senators and Representatives from California support this legislation. It is not calculated in any way to do injustice or injury to the railroads. ... This is a plan which I have proposed myself, and for which I have secured the endorsement of the Commission. The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce has endorsed it. The whole Pacific Coast should follow suit enthusiastically.