Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 84.djvu/84

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80
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

THE STRUGGLE FOR EQUALITY IN THE UNITED STATES
II
By Professor CHARLES F. EMERICK
SMITH COLLEGE

The Railways and Fair Play

SINCE the close of the civil war, the American people have devoted their energies largely to the development of their material resources. In 1865, the men who had served in the armies of the south as well as of the north returned to the pursuits of peace and, reinforced by the rising tide of immigration, the nation entered afresh upon the industrial conquest of its environment. Aided by the homestead act, the railway and improved farm machinery, and more recently by irrigation works and the scientific expert, the agricultural development of the country has gone forward by leaps and bounds. But material development has not been one-sided. The growth of manufactures, the increase of commerce and railway expansion, have been even more conspicuous than the development of agriculture. More noteworthy still, probably, are the changes which have taken place in the mode of businesss organization. The corporation has displaced the partnership, and the size of the business unit necessary to a maximum of efficiency has enormously increased in many fields of activity. A process of consolidation, combination and integration has gone on that has transformed the business world. The change marks nothing less than a revolution. As a consequence, the individual and small combinations of individuals find themselves in the presence of adamantine forces with which they are powerless to cope, and the conflict between equality and property has shifted to a new field. The energy and ambition of the age are so centered upon economic ends that equality of industrial opportunity is the crying need of the hour.

 
I

Among the new forms of property that have violated the sense of fair play, that embarked in the several fields of transportation and communication is easily chief. This is preeminently true of the railway. In a highly specialized industrial system, where nearly everything is produced for sale, the mass of commodities at some stage in its career enters the channels of transportation. Under these circumstances, equality of opportunity in the matter of reaching the market concerns the consumer as well as the producer and is fundamental to industrial