Imágenes de páginas
[blocks in formation]

Gentlemen of the National Board of Trade:-It is well to remind you that this is the forty-third year of the life of your Board, suggested in 1867 in Detroit, planned at Boston in 1868, and organized in Philadelphia by invitation from that city the same year. Its declaration should be remembered:

This organization is formed for the purpose of promoting the efficiency and extending the usefulness of the various commercial and manufacturing organizations of the United States of America, securing unity and harmony of action with reference to business usages and laws, and especially the proper consideration of and concentration of opinion upon questions affecting the financial, commercial and industrial interests of the country at large, and to provide a concerted action regarding National legislative measures and Governmental department affairs.

The National Board of Trade has always been a leader in thought, and has frequently in the past taken the initiative and laid the foundation for Congressional legislation afterwards enacted.

The honest, sincere service of forty-three years for the welfare of our country has created for the National Board the deepest respect of the Administration and the Congress, so that your representatives are well and promptly received, and listened to by the President and all department chiefs, as well as all members of Congress.

At our convention of last January there were present as delegates two ex-United States Senators and a number of members of Congress. Besides, at our banquet we had the President, who advocated our propositions, and many Senators and Congressmen, as well as the diplomats from our sister republics to the South of us and from European powers.

One of our strongest and most influential friends, Mr. A. M. READ (to whom you owe so much for his untiring and successful work on a uniform bill of lading, now used by most of the great railroads), some time president of the best managed organization in America, The American Warehousemen's Association, who kindly acted as Commissioner, in making his report last year said:

I want to repeat, however, if I may, a portion of the first report I made to this Board. The three years I have been with you as a member of this body and as your Commissioner have intensified, instead of decreasing the feeling that the National Board of Trade, if it ever hopes to have the success it ought to have in influencing the councils of the country, should have its headquarters in Washington, D. C. (applause), and should have in charge competent men to appear before the Committees of Congress or before the Executive Departments of the Government and properly represent the desires of the National Board of Trade. The Office of Commissioner is one you do not need, and you ought to abolish it. You should have your headquarters here, your Secretary here, and a corps of men competent to bring before Congress and the Departments and properly represent what this Board thinks and desires for the public good; and, in my opinion, you will never succeed as you deserve and ought until that action shall be taken.

This sage advice you promptly acted upon, thus I think making the most important move in the history of the organization. An office was established in Washington in charge of Mr. A. T. ANDERSON, whose entire time has been given to the work. Able, conscientious and untiring, he has pushed the work along, by interviews with department chiefs, and before committees of Congress, emphasizing the views of business America. Never have the Board and its influence been better understood, nor has its work been better advertised.

The work is not finished when this convention adjourns. It will not be done for your Board, and it will not be done for any organization, unless men are kept at the doors of Congress eternally working on the subject and dinning it into the ears of legislators until success is won.

Through the year your officers have been greatly aided by your Commissioner in Washington when they have appeared before Congressional committees. We need a much greater force in Washington than our Commissioner. He has done, single-handed, much, but the time will come, when our finances will permit, that other work for the betterment of commerce at home and abroad can be taken on, and this will necessitate more help.

Being so intimately connected with the creation of the Department of Commerce and Labor, you are in close touch with its work, and that department appreciates your powerful influence.

A letter just received from the chief of the Bureau of Manufactures, giving some valuable suggestions and courting our aid, will be referred to by our Commissioner in his report.

Last year I quoted from the remarks of Mr. Kelly, the intelligent Railroad Commissioner of Chamber of Commerce, Philadelphia, who has done such good work for this Board:

The suggestion of the President for the establishment of a United States Court of Commerce is most timely. The object or purpose of this court is to hear appeals from the decisions of the Interstate Commerce Commission and hasten the disposal of railroad cases.

To-day he writes me:

I referred to the suggestion of the President for the establishment of a United States Court of Commerce. Since the last meeting of the National Board of Trade this law has been enacted and the judges have been appointed, the Presiding Judge being Hon. Martin A. Knapp, formerly the Chairman of the Interstate Commerce Commission, who was appointed for five years.

Last year I suggested that the Interstate Commerce Commission be empowered to pass upon the classification of commodities, with a view to equalizing rates. Subsequently Congress enacted legislation granting to the Commission the power to suspend rates filed with it until they could be investigated, and this is one of the most important and far-reaching amendments to the Interstate Commerce law since its adoption.

Immediately after the passage of this amendment the carriers in all sections of the country filed with the Commission advances on certain commodities and classes, proposing increases in the class rates ranging from 8 to 20 per cent. This met with immediate opposition from the shippers and representatives of shippers through the commercial bodies both in the East and West, and, as a result of this opposition, the Interstate Commerce Commission has suspended these rates until February 1, 1911.

In the meantime hearings have been held in Chicago, New York and Washington, which have been attended by the Presidents of the various carriers, together with representatives of the commercial bodies in both the East and the West, and over 4,000 pages of testimony have been taken. The case was argued under date of January 9th by the Eastern interests, and on January 20th the attorneys representing the Western carriers and those representing the Western shippers will be heard, and it is expected that the Commission will render its decision as near February 1st as possible, so as not to make a further suspension of these rates


In view of this amendment to the Interstate Commerce Law, the Presidents of several of the Eastern trunk lines have testified before the Commission that, by this amendment, the carriers have practically been placed under Governmental control and the responsibility for the securing of finances that are needed for extension and extraordinary improvements rests with the Government. Therefore, the decision to be rendered by the Interstate Commerce Commission will perhaps be one of the most important ever made by it.

And now, gentlemen, I think your most important work was the leading part you took, from 1873 to 1879, in the resumption of gold payments when the leading financiers, including the Hon. John Sherman, Secretary of the Treas

ury, were eager to know what the business men's views, as enunciated by the National Board of Trade, were, many of the journals of the day saying nothing would be done till after your annual meeting of 1878. Again, your Board has come into a widespread national work following and immediately after the resolutions on Banking and Currency adopted at the meeting of January last year, which I append but will not read:


Held in Washington, D. C., January 25, 26, 27, 1910.


WHEREAS, We assume that a plan for the revision of our currency system will be formulated after the National Monetary Commission has made its final report; and

WHEREAS, A revision of our currency system upon a permanently sound and scientific basis is of vital importance to all interests and should be accomplished as soon as practicable;

Resolved, That the National Board of Trade favors the adoption of a currency system which will be based upon the following fundamental principles and ensure the following results:

First.-Be absolutely fair to all interests and to all localities. Second. Ensure at all times an adequate supply of properly safeguarded currency.

Third. The volume of said currency to automatically expand and contract in response to the normal demands of the manufacturing, commercial, agricultural and all other legitimate interests of the country.

Fourth. Said systems to be absolutely free from domination or control by political or any other favored interests.

Resolved, That the National Board of Trade calls upon all its constituent bodies to carefully study the fundamental principles of banking and currency, in order to intelligently aid the enactment of such legislation as will best conserve the interests of the entire country.

Adopted by vote of the meeting.

Your President saw the importance of arousing the interest of the business world in monetary reform, and that it should be through the agency of the National Board of Trade. We wanted to work in harmony with the National

« AnteriorContinuar »