Washington, June 27, 1911
Dear sir,—Adverting to yours of June 22, in re express rates, I beg to advise that nothing can be added to my previous letter unless it is the expression of my personal opinion that a rate should not be made for the carriage of 20,000 pound shipments by express.
We are receiving daily similar complaints to yours, respecting the nonadjustment of express rates, and if you will call at this office we shall be pleased to reveal the reason for our failure, hitherto, to grant the relief desired. It is extremely warm in Washington at the present time, but if anything could add to the disagreeableness of life in the city it is the unreasoning insistence on the part of the traffic bureaus of the country that express rates shall be fixed overnight.
I desire to say that I have given some year or two of more or less profane contemplation to this question, and have now engaged a large corps of men, under the direction of Mr. Frank Lyon as attorney for the Commission, to seek a way out of the inextricable maze of express company figures. Whether we will be able to find the light before the Infinite Hand that controls our destinies cuts short the cord, is a question to which no certain answer can be given. Would you kindly advise the importunate members of a most worthy institution, that express rates to San Francisco possess me as an obsessment. My prayer is at night interfered with by consideration of the question—“What should the 100 pound rate be by Wells Fargo & Co. from New York to San Francisco?” And at night often I am aroused from sleep, feeling confident in my dreams that the mystic figure of “a just and reasonable rate,” under Section One, on 100-pound shipments to San Francisco, had been determined, and awaken with a joyous cry upon my lips, to discover that life has been made still more unhappy by the torture of the subconscious mind during sleep.
No doubt your shippers are being treated unfairly, both by the express companies and by the Interstate Commerce Commission. This is a cruel world. Congress itself adds to the torture, by almost daily referring to us some bill touching express rates or parcels post, or some such similar service, and while the thermometer stands at 117 degrees in the shade we are requested to advise as to whether express companies should not be abolished. It has only been by the exercise of a rare and unusual degree of self-control on my part, and by long periods of prayer, that I have refrained from advising Congress that I thought express companies should be abolished and designating the place to which they should be relegated.
As perhaps you may have heard, I shall visit the Pacific Coast in person during the next few weeks, and there I trust I may have the pleasure of meeting you and your noble Governing Committees, to whom I shall explain in person and in detail the difficulties attaching to the solution of this problem. ... Sincerely yours,