My dear Abbott,— ... President Taft’s suggestion of a Commerce Court is a very sensible one. We suggested the institution of such a Court some years ago, so that the question of nullifying our order will be brought up before men who have special experience. ... The trouble with the Courts is that they know nothing about the question. Fundamentally it is not ... law but economics that we deal with. The fixing of a rate is a matter of politics. That is the reason why I have always held that the traffic manager is the most potent of our statesmen. So that we should have a Court that will pass really upon the one question of confiscation—the constitutionality of the rates fixed—and leave experienced men to deal with the economic questions. ...
I have long wanted to see you and have a talk about our work. At times it is rather disheartening. The problem is vast, and we pass few milestones. The one great accomplishment of the Commission, I think, in the last three years, has been the enforcement of the law as against rebating. We have a small force now that is used in this connection under my personal direction, and I think the greatest contribution that we have made, perhaps, to the railroads has been during the time of panic when they were kept from cutting rates directly or indirectly and throwing each other into the hands of receivers.
The great volume of our complaints comes from the territory west of the Mississippi River and practically all of the larger cities in the inter-mountain country have complaints pending before us attacking the reasonableness of the rates charged them, and it is to give consideration to these that the Commission, as a body, goes West the first of the month. ...
I have just returned from a trip to Europe, and I find that what I said two or three years ago about the United States being the most Conservative of the civilized countries is absolutely true.
By the way, at the Sorbonne at Paris they are exhibiting the chair in which President Roosevelt will sit when he comes to deliver his address and I am thinking that he will have quite as hearty a reception in Paris as in any of our cities.
Very truly yours,
TO JOHN H. WIGMORE
Washington, December 3, 1909
My dear doctor,—... I think there is but little doubt that De Vries will receive the appointment, though of course everything here is in absolute chaos. ... The best symptom in my own case is that I have been called in twice to consult over proposed amendments to the law, and the President’s [Taft’s] reference thereto in his forthcoming message. He seems to think my judgment worth something—more than I do myself, in fact—for down in my heart, though I do not let anybody see it, I am really a modest creature.
Since my return from the West we have had one merry round of sickness in the house ... but all are on their feet once more and as gay as they can be with a more or less grumpy head of the household in the neighborhood, (assuming for the nonce that I am the head of the household).