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commerce," or the like, to such an organization is a misnomer. Yet such is the situation, especially in the smaller communities.
A competent business or traffic manager has, in many cases, restored such a languishing organization, and made it a power in the community, and an essential factor in the success of its members.
In the recent years of progress, chambers of commerce have become important factors in the growth and welfare of our cities. In this country the term "chamber of commerce" is used interchangeably with “board of trade” and “commercial club," to signify a typical association of business men. These associations and commercial organizations are not of recent origin, but date back to the merchants' guilds of the twelfth century.
History shows that the name “chamber of commerce" was applied for the first time to an association of merchants of Marseilles during the fifteenth century. The first board of trade was formed by Charles I of England in 1636. These early organizations were closely affiliated with the government, and, to some extent, this is true of modern European organizations of a similar type.
In this country, the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York, founded in 1768 at New York
Boston and Philadelphia soon
City, is the oldest
afterward organized similar associations. These bodies were composed of business men who met regularly to discuss trade matters and to pass resolutions on certain important commercial questions, and they were the forerunners of the various bodies which have since been founded.
Number and Classification The number of these organizations steadily increased from 4 in 1801 to about 3,000 in 1898. In the winter of 1912, the Senate directed the Department of Cormerce and Labor to furnish a list of national, state, and local commercial organizations; the compilation was made by the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce of this department, and was printed early in 1913. On that date there were 3,356 commercial organizations in the entire country, of which 243 were interstate, national, or international bodies, 183 were state and territorial, and 2,930 mere local.
In the first class fall such organizations as the New England Business Federation and the Pan-American States Association. In the second class fall the California Development Board and the Manufacturers and Producers of California. Of the local organizations comprising the third class, the large majority are interested only in civic and industrial development. They are known by various designations, such as chambers of commerce, boards of trade, commercial clubs, commerce clubs, and commercial associations.
Federation Labor in this country is more or less organized as a national body. Agricultural interests are com
bined in granges and other sectional groups. There fore, it is but fitting and proper that commerce, one of the other great elements of our national life, should have a nationally organized representation in governmental affairs. As recently as 1912 there was formed the great national federation of commercial organizations known as the “United States Chamber of Commerce,” which superseded the National Board of Trade and the National Council of Commerce.
The purpose of the United States Chamber of Commerce is to establish closer relations between the commercial interests of this country and the federal officials and legislative bodies. Its activities center in the annual meetings held in various large cities and attended by delegates from all member organizations. Between meetings, the referendum is employed on all important matters, the members voting by mail.
As commercial organizations have increased in number and have federated into a national body, their methods have advanced and their functions have
The commercial organization of the present day is the result of commercial and industrial evolution.
As stated by Mr. S. C. Mead, secretary of the New York Merchants' Association, the main purpose of a chamber of commerce or kindred body is to stimulate, foster, and protect the commercial and industrial activities of the community thru coöperation and coördination on the part of the citizens.
Collateral subjects such as civics, social betterment, and welfare work are to be considered by commercial organizations only so
far as they concern the commercial and industrial situation.
All cities are finding it an absolute necessity to recognize the commerce body as an important economic factor. In some quarters, it is likened to a garrison, vigilant and quick to perceive changing conditions and to observe important movements by other trade centers. Civic improvement, industrial surveys, conventions, harbor improvements, and transportation are essentially part of any city-building plan undertaken by a commerce body.
TRANSPORTATION FOR THE CITY
No city can afford to overlook the subject of its transportation. Competition between cities as markets for the distribution and consumption of products is rapidly becoming keener, and the question of transportation has, therefore, become a larger problem for every progressive and growing city. To-day a city that is looking after its welfare will certainly devote a great deal of attention to its arteries of commerce, without which it would be practically isolated. Especially is a city of extensive shipping interests dependent upon its transportation for its commercial and industrial growth.
COMPETITION OF LOCALITIER
In order that a city may prosper, it must have adequate transportation and equitable freight and passenger rates. Numerous complaints filed with the regulating commissions have disclosed the existence of rate structures that were retarding the growth and
development of a particular trade center, while its competitors, with the rate situation favorable to them, were progressing. Not only must unjust discriminations prejudicial to a city be eliminated, but rates advantageous to competitive cities, tho unfair, must likewise be adjusted.
COÖPERATION IN RATE ADJUSTMENT
A progressive city which means to handle such matters adequately will establish a traffic bureau, either as a branch of its commercial organization or as an independent organization. The following is an excerpt from the organ of the Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce, which has founded a traffic bureau:
In order that a city may become a great commercial and manufacturing center, it is necessary that freight rates be established and maintained on an equal basis with other cities and markets. The question of freight bureaus has been prominently before the business communities of the different sections of the country for some years, and is to-day recognized as the most efficient manner of guarding the shipping interests of the different localities. It is also being encouraged by the railway interests, and it is a mistake to suppose that this policy antagonizes the railroads. On the contrary, they find it of advantage to treat with an organization such as a freight bureau with a representative railroad man at its head, in preference to treating with individuals, and thru this means the business community is brought in contact with the transportation interests, and measures that are for their mutual intorests are considered in a businesslike manner. The position that the manager of the freight bureau holds is more of an intermediary between the shipper and the railroad, to whom the troubles of each may be told and exploited, and thru whose intervention the equities and justice of a situation may be