Street Railway Legislation in Illinois
THE story of the street railways of Chicago illustrates at every point the want of foresight that has marked the policy, or lack of policy, of American cities touching the public services now required by urban populations. Recent Illinois legislation, due to the Chicago street railway situation, is of more than local or passing interest. The Act of May 18, 1903, known during its stormy passage through the two houses of the General Assembly as “Senate Bill No. 40,” is believed to be the first general legislative act in the United States providing for the municipal ownership of street railways. Its final passage after six years of earnest effort, despite the utmost opposition of public service corporations and their political allies, is one of the most notable triumphs of public opinion within recent years.
The street railways of Chicago were constructed and have been maintained under statutes and ordinances enacted from time to time since 1858. All statutes enacted prior to the State Constitution of 1870, which prohibited such acts, were special. By enactments of 1859 and 1861 three street railway corporations, for the several natural divisions of the city, were created, each to have corporate life for twenty-five years. In 1865, by act passed at the instance of the companies, and by means which have never been defended, over the veto of Governor Oglesby, their corporate life was extended to ninety-nine years. They claim that this act also operates to extend their rights in the streets of Chicago for a like period. The city has always protested against this legislative disposition of its streets as a violation of the principle of home rule. It also contends that the act violates the State Constitution of 1848 in certain particulars.
There are wide differences of view as to the scope of the Act of 1865. The city contends that, if valid, it only affects the streets occupied by the companies at the date of its passage. This view is practically that of the Chicago City Railway Company, which occupies the south division of the city, and is owned by local capitalists. This company only claims that about fifteen percentage of its mileage, including important portions of its terminals in the centre of the city, is covered by the act. The allied companies which occupy the north and west divisions of the city, and are largely owned by the Widener-Elkins syndicate of New York and Philadelphia, after accepting during many years grants from the city for extensions and cross lines, strictly limited to twenty years, have recently sought to repudiate all limitations in favor of the city, claiming that the General Assembly of 1865 really intended a system grant, and that every concession since made by the city added so much to their ninety-nine-year possessions.
The city, on July 30, 1883, to set at rest for the time being its controversy with the companies over the NinetyNine-Year Act, made a general extension grant for twenty years without prejudice to the conflicting claims of the parties. Under this and many subsequent grants similarly limited for extension and cross lines, the cable and electric lines of the companies have been constructed and operated. At no time have the companies operated any of their lines under the Ninety-Nine-Year Act unsupported by city grants.
The state, by a general act of 1874, provided for corporations to construct, maintain, and operate “Horse and Dummy Railroads.” Under its provisions the cities of the state might make grants of rights in their streets for terms not exceeding twenty years. This act, never sufficient for the protection of the public and private interests involved, gradually became more and more inadequate for these purposes. With the transformation of pioneer horse lines into costly cable and electric systems having hundreds of miles of trackage, great power plants, thousands of employees, and millions of dollars in annual receipts, the need of new legislation became more and more apparent. However, the growth of the public service corporation from small beginnings had been so rapid, its corrupting influence was so insidious, and the citizens were so occupied with their private concerns, that as yet there was no clearly defined public policy to be expressed in new legislation.
The people of Chicago, while still groping for a policy, as long ago as 1896 realized that the employment of private capital in the conduct of the public business is the direct cause of municipal misrule and the real issue in municipal politics; that the question in every American city is whether the public authority shall be exercised by the people for public ends, or by allied public service corporations for incorporated greed; and that it will soon be determined whether the city of the people is to become a private municipality.
The City Council, for oft-repeated good and valuable considerations, had long been a corporate possession of the street railways and their allied corporate interests. With the first attempt of the people to recover possession of the legislative authority of the city, these interests took alarm. Under cover of the exciting national campaign of 1896 they in advance acquired title to the incoming Governor and General Assembly of the state. Early in the legislative session of 1897, the street railway companies caused to be introduced into both houses of the General Assembly a bill to extend for fifty years their disputed rights in the streets of Chicago, in wanton disregard of public interests. This bill promptly passed the Senate by a large majority. It was bitterly opposed by the people and press of Chicago, and was finally defeated in the House. The companies thereupon caused to be introduced and passed a simple measure authorizing the several cities of the state to make grants to street railway companies for periods not exceeding fifty years.
The Act of 1897 operated to extend the term for which franchise grants might be made by municipalities from twenty to fifty years. It was passed by means that disgraced the state, and aroused bitter feeling from Chicago to Cairo. How keenly the people of Illinois resented this debauchery of their state government was shown a year and a half later, at the next election of members of the General Assembly. Of sixteen retiring senators who voted for the obnoxious measure of 1897 but two were reëlected; and of the eighty-two representatives who so voted but fourteen secured reëlection. There was, perhaps, never such a slaughter of state legislators. The memory of the tragedy of 1898 still haunts the corridors of the state capitol at Springfield. Indeed, since that memorable election the General Assembly of Illinois has dealt with much fear and trembling with the subject of street railway legislation. At its next session, by unanimous vote in the House, it repealed the Act of 1897, and restored the former statute. The Governor who signed the obnoxious measure of two years before gave his official sanction to the new act restoring the situation. Meantime the street railway companies, which for two years had vainly sought fifty-year extensions from the City Council of Chicago, stood idly by, unable to avert the bitter humiliation of utter defeat.
Thus closes the first chapter of the story of recent street railway legislation in Illinois. Pending the struggle above outlined, an affirmative public policy for the better control of street railways was taking form in Chicago. Leaders in the movement for the protection of public interests had framed a comprehensive bill looking to public control and possible public ownership, which they offered at the legislative session of 1899. However, public opinion was not yet ripe for constructive legislation in the public interest; and the General Assembly, almost entirely composed of new members, was afraid to experiment with so dangerous a subject.
The movement to make the City Council representative of public interests had so far succeeded, that from the year 1900 its able Committee on Local Transportation properly assumed the leadership on behalf of Chicago in the effort to secure adequate street railway legislation. The committee, having made an extensive study of the conditions, submitted to the General Assembly of 1901 a comprehensive bill for a general street railway law. It was assumed by the framers of this measure that local transportation should be treated as a monopoly ; that, while conducted by the public service corporation, it should be subjected to strict public control ; and that the right of municipal ownership should be reserved and safeguarded. The bill, drawn on these lines, although ably supported by the Council Committee at Springfield, was strangled in the House Committee to which it was referred. After repeated public hearings this committee simply failed to report. The bill was not relished by certain of the street railway interests; and it is believed that the inaction of the House was not solely due to legislative timidity.
Two years now quickly passed, during which the struggle on behalf of public interests steadily gained ground in Chicago. The general extension ordinance of 1883 was to expire on July 30, 1903. In the spring of 1902, under a recent act permitting the submission of public questions to popular vote, the electors of the city, by a majority of about five to one, expressed their opinion in favor of the municipal ownership of the street railways. However, as many grants of particular streets made at different times to the companies will not expire for several years, and the city is not in financial condition for so great a purchase, early municipal ownership is impracticable even if desirable. The popular vote of 1902 favoring it must be regarded as an expression of hostility to the street railway companies rather than as a demand for immediate municipal ownership.
The failure of the comprehensive street railway bills of 1899 and 1901, and the conservative attitude of leading country members to legislation uniformly branded " socialistic " by the owners of the securities of public service corporations, led the Committee on Local Transportation of the City Council of Chicago and its supporters to propose a more simple measure at the session of the General Assembly of 1903. The end sought was to reverse existing conditions, and place the city, instead of the companies, in control of the situation. To accomplish this, it was deemed necessary to obtain for the city power to acquire, own, and operate its street railways. Hence there arose, prior to the opening of the session, a wide demand for enabling legislation as a condition precedent to the further extension of the expiring franchises of the street railway companies. Bills to empower the cities of Illinois to acquire street railways, and to reserve the right of municipal acquisition in franchise grants, were promptly offered by the Council Committee and others.
It was known prior to the organization of the House that the effort to pass such a measure would be the chief feature of the session. The Governor, representing the spoils faction of his party, of course desired to have his supporters control the House. The party boss of Chicago, Mr. William C. Lorimer, for purposes of “ politics ” wished to possess the House. The editor of the Inter-Ocean, Mr. George W. Hinman, — brought from New York by Mr. Charles T. Yerkes when he purchased that stalwart party organ and made it the avowed champion of the street railway corporations,— had, in his capacity of organ grinder, acquired some party influence outside Chicago, which gave him a place in the combine to control the House. These allies, by the utmost effort, including the use of state patronage, controlled the caucus by a bare majority and secured the organization. They chose for Speaker a weak and unknown man, pledging him to obey orders. It was subsequently understood in the House that as a condition of his election the Speaker was required to promise to carry out Hinman’s orders on all street railway measures, and to use the gavel when necessary to defeat objectionable legislation. Mr. “Gus” Nohe, — Lorimer’s member from his own legislative district, — when asked whether there was to be any traction legislation, replied : “ I don’t know. I do whatever the old man tells me to ; and he tells me to do about traction as Hinman says.” Hinman himself announced that there would be no traction legislation at that session. The companies, thus safeguarded by the organization of the House, were not openly represented at Springfield.
The City Council of Chicago sent to the General Assembly, with its indorsement, a bill for an enabling act prepared by its Committee on Local Transportation. A special committee, composed in part of members of the Council, presented a somewhat more radical measure. Several members offered individual bills largely copied from these two. A bill, mainly drafted by the Secretary of the Municipal Voters’ League of Chicago, and offered in the Senate by Senator Mueller, became known as Senate Bill No. 40.
While the situation at Springfield was thus confused, the mayoralty campaign came on in Chicago. The platform of the Municipal Voters’ League, on which more than two thirds of the members of the Council had been elected, was heartily indorsed by the conventions of both parties. The Mayor had actively participated in the development of the street railway programme embodied in the League platform. His Republican opponent, who was without a traction record, actively exerted his influence to advance the “ Mueller Bill” at Springfield. In part because of his efforts, and in response to the unanimous demand of the public press of Chicago, Senate Bill No. 40 passed the Senate just after the municipal election in Chicago.
The House organization now set itself to suppress the Senate measure and to defeat all street railway legislation, meanwhile pretending to meet the popular demand. Messrs. Lorimer and Hinman went to Springfield and openly assumed personal direction of the House. The municipal committee, composed almost entirely of machine puppets, promptly suppressed the Senate bill, reporting a substitute prepared by its chairman, Mr. Cicero J. Lindley, under the immediate supervision of Messrs. Lorimer and Hinman. These open supporters of the Yerkes legislation of 1897 now posed as saviors of the city from the alleged evil designs of the reform leaders. They insisted that there should be no grants, even if made from time to time in succession, for more than twenty years in the aggregate. They claimed that their “ Lindley Bill ” was the only genuine municipal ownership measure. The bill itself was a blundering abstract of parts of the Senate bill. The provision of that measure authorizing cities to borrow money on special certificates with which to acquire street railway property was carefully emasculated. Other changes and omissions pointed unmistakably to a desire to protect the existing companies.
It may be asked, why did Lorimer, absolute dictator of the House organization, offer a substitute for the Senate bill in the House ? Why did he not suppress the obnoxious measure and have done with the matter ? The answer is that public opinion was so aroused in favor of enabling legislation, the suspicion of corporate interference with the public programme was so general, that even Lorimer did not dare openly to defy it. The plan was for the House to pass pretended enabling legislation, and to have it fail between the two houses.
The popular demand for the Mueller Bill became so insistent that on the night before the substitute was set for second reading, Mr. Lorimer became alarmed. The Democrats and minority Republicans that night held separate caucuses to plan for the substitution of the Senate measure. How many votes could be mustered against the organization, believed absolutely to control the fate of all pending measures in the then closing hours of the session, was not clear; but it was evident that the revolt was formidable.
Late that night a memorable conference was held at the call of William C. Lorimer. The place was his private chamber at the Leland House, in Springfield. The time was from about 11.30 P. M. to 3.30 A. M. The subject discussed was the pending street railway legislation. There, in his lair, the boss and his subordinates received the representatives of public interests. Mr. Lorimer was supported by Mr. Hinman, and Messrs. Lindley, David E. Shanahan, “ Gus ” Nohe, and “ Ed ” Morris of the House. Mr. Frank O. Lowden was present in the dual capacity of friend of the organization and of the city. Messrs. Bennett, Mavor, and Eidman, of the Council Committee, and Mr. Graeme Stewart (late Republican candidate for Mayor of Chicago), Mr. E. L. Reeves, and the writer, of the Chicago delegation, were present on Mr. Lorimer’s invitation.
We were promptly asked, “ What do you want? ” Our reply was, “ We care nothing for names ; but, in substance, we want the Senate bill. Nothing less will serve.” Mr. Lorimer emphatically told us that the Senate bill was dead and buried, and that the only hope of legislation at that session lay in the enactment of the Lindley substitute. We were urged to accept that measure, and invited then and there to submit amendments. It was assumed throughout the conference that we were “ up against the real thing ; ” that whatever amendments Mr. Lorimer might accept that night would go through the House the next day. The attitude of the members of that body on the principal question of the session was assumed to be wholly immaterial.
It makes one, who regards the people as the source of political authority and the General Assembly as a means for the expression of their will, feel somewhat queer to participate in a midnight gathering called by a voluntary political boss to dispense legislation of vital public concern. However, under present conditions, only thus may one be sure to get next to the “powers that prey.” Thus only may one reach the source of legislation affecting privileged interests and study it in process. In this instance we knew full well that our presence that night behind the scenes was solely due to ominous signs of revolt in the House. The boss sought to avert the storm.
The night wore on in discussion — often heated discussion — of the defects of the substitute bill. That measure, as it then stood, was a bungling imitation of the Senate bill, so emasculated as to render it practically valueless. It bore unmistakable marks of tender regard for the traction interests. It appeared on its face to provide for municipal ownership, but withheld the means for its accomplishment. By the omission of the provision of the Senate bill, broadly authorizing the municipality to grant streets already occupied by street railways to any corporation, without new frontage consents, it was sought to make it necessary for the city to deal with the present companies and to confirm them in their possession of the streets.
These chief defects of the substitute bill were stoutly defended, the first as an alleged protection to the public from the possibility of grants for more than twenty years ; the second out of a professed regard for abutting property owners. Amendments to cure several minor defects, and one covering frontage consents so worded as not to fall within the title of the bill, were finally offered us. The boss thereupon delivered his ultimatum, in substance as follows: “You must accept the Lindley Bill with these amendments, pull down all opposition on the floor of the House and from the Chicago press, and actively support the bill. It is the Lindley Bill or nothing.”
A few hours later, as the House assembled to consider the Lindley substitute on second reading, the Chicago delegation, about twenty in number, — composed of the Mayor, citizens appointed by him, and the Council Committee, — rejected by practically unanimous vote the Lorimer ultimatum. This action, taken with full knowledge that it might mean present defeat instead of a weak compromise with the machine, was taken the more readily because Lorimer by giving out the proposed amendments had already committed himself to them, and because the representatives of the city believed that it was his intention to pass the amended substitute through the House and kill it in the closing hours of the session.
The fight on the floor of the House was now on. The Speaker, who, the day before, on the written demand of a majority of the House, declined to say whether he would recognize the constitutional demand of five members for a yea and nay vote on all proposed amendments, arbitrarily postponed the second reading of the bill to two o’clock that day, and then until nine o’clock the next morning. Meanwhile the recalcitrant members were subjected to one of the most severe of machine tests. Some seventy-five bills making appropriations for the state government and the public institutions throughout the state, and many other bills of local or special interest to the members, stood on the calendar on third reading. Those favoring the Senate traction bill, led by Mr. Oliver W. Stewart, the able prohibition member, had given notice that none of these measures should pass until the traction question was acted on by the House.
The organization leaders now presented two carefully chosen appropriation bills for passage. The first was the appropriation bill for the maintenance of the State Normal School at Macomb, the home of Mr. Sherman, leader of the Republican opposition. It was permitted to fail, the friends of Senate Bill No. 40, including Sherman, refusing to vote. A second appropriation bill shared the fate of the first. Thereupon the House transacted some unimportant business and adjourned for the day. That night representatives of the city declined an invitation by Mr. Lorimer to another conference.
All now anxiously awaited the morrow. Would the Speaker obey his oath of office, permitting a roll call? Was the will of William Lorimer to be more potent than the Constitution of Illinois ? Was the Speaker’s gavel to be used to make a minority equivalent to a majority ? The action of the Speaker would plainly demonstrate to an entire people whether the public service corporation regards its wants superior to all law, whether corporate influence has become the supreme law of a great state. The opponents of the Lindley Bill believed that the Speaker would finally observe his oath. Even they had not fathomed corporate and political insolence.
The next morning, when the House met with packed galleries, “ the organization ” made a final effort to break the ranks of the majority. The “Child Labor Bill,” the most popular measure on the calendar, was called on final passage. The vote disclosed the exact strength of the opposing forces. Fifty members voted aye. Ninety-six sat mute. The majority against the Lindley Bill was almost two to one. Had William Lorimer been present, he might have changed the programme ; but, having given his Speaker orders for the day, he awaited results at his hotel. No one having authority was there.
The crisis now came. The Lindley Bill was called on second reading. The Speaker, deathly pale, stood at his desk, gavel in hand. Behind him were several ladies. Massed about his desk were twenty or more strong men prepared to defend him. Mr. Lindley offered his first amendment. The opposition leader moved to lay it on the table. Ninetysix members rose in their seats and shouted, “ Roll call! Roll call! ” The Speaker, refusing to hear them, declared the amendment adopted by viva voce vote. “You lie!” shouted Representative Allen of the minority. Then amid the utmost confusion and excitement, with the majority members standing on their desks shouting, “ Roll call! Roll call! ” Mr. Lindley hastily offered his six other amendments. The Speaker, without the formality of reading or a vote, declared them all adopted. Without motion, he also declared the bill passed to its third reading, beyond the reach of further amendments.
It is impossible to describe the scene or to convey an adequate idea of its intensely dramatic interest. The pale and trembling Speaker, protected from flying inkstands by the women placed for that purpose at his back, hastily executed his orders. But he was not thus to escape the utmost personal humiliation. While in the act of declaring the bill passed to a third reading, Representative Burke of Chicago, unsupported, made a rush for him, only to be roughly thrown to the floor. This was the extent of the so-called “ riot ” in the House. There was a rush of members to the support of Burke; but the cowardice of the Speaker averted a general fight. The rush of one outraged member was quite enough for him. Without waiting for more, he precipitately fled to his room, declaring that the House had taken a recess until afternoon.
All this took place in much less time than it has taken to describe it. The turmoil and excitement at this point are indescribable. The Speaker’s hasty flight led to a quick transformation. Representative Murray of Springfield, standing on his seat near the Speaker’s desk, solemnly called the House to order and said : “ It appears that the House is without a presiding officer; I move that Mr. Allen of Vermilion be chosen Speaker pro tem.” The motion carried, Mr. Allen took the deserted chair, and the confusion quickly subsided. Within perhaps a minute after the Speaker fled, the reorganization was perfected, and a roll call of the House was in progress.
The manner in which the ninety-six members, whose high duty it was to restore constitutional government in Illinois, performed their unexpected task left nothing to be desired. Their action on that memorable day and in the remaining days of the session will forever remain conspicuous among the landmarks on the difficult road to really representative government. There are men in our public life who are not the creatures of the corporations, men who care for something higher than spoils.
The House now proceeded to recall the Lindley Bill from its third reading. When each amendment had been reconsidered and laid on the table, the Senate bill was substituted, and the Lindley Bill became in fact, if not in name, Senate Bill No. 40. Meanwhile the leaders of the majority, in conference in an adjoining committee room, prepared the following preamble and resolution : —
“ Whereas, The Speaker of this House has by revolutionary and unconstitutional methods denied a hearing in this House on a roll call constitutionally demanded upon measures of grave import, prepared by those not members of this House, and has attempted by the same methods to force the same beyond the point where they can be amended or calmly considered upon their merits,
“Therefore, be it resolved, That, until the House records shall show a reconsideration of the action of this House on House Bill No. 864 [Lindley Bill] and all amendments thereto, and shall show the adoption of this resolution, and the House shall be assured of the continuous observance during the remainder of this session of the constitutional right of a roll call on all questions and the due consideration of the business of this House, no further votes be cast upon any pending bill by the members of this House without a permanent reorganization of this House.”
The foregoing preamble and resolution were thereupon signed by the ninety-six opposition members and spread on the Journal of the House. The Speaker pro tem. was also instructed to read it to the Speaker in the presence of the House on his return to the chair. This was done by Mr. Allen with great solemnity that afternoon. Whereupon the House took a recess, during which the Speaker conferred with Mr. Lorimer, Mr. Hinman, the Governor, Mr. Lindley, and a few others. Upon his reappearance he presented the following written statement to the House : —
“ I have been approached at different times by parties who intimated to me that I could make money by allowing a roll call on what is known as the Mueller Bill or permitting its passage. I do not know whether the parties making the statements were authorized to make them or not, but the statements having been made to me, and some of them recently, fully convinced me that there was something wrong with this effort on the part of outside parties to push this bill. For this reason, I denied the roll call, and have stood firm on this proposition up to the very limit. A majority of the House having signified their desire to have a roll call on this proposition, I wash my hands of the entire matter, and will permit a roll call to be had.”
Thereupon Mr. Rinaker, the able leader of the majority, promptly moved the appointment by the Speaker himself of a committee of five members to investigate his charges. Upon Mr. Rinaker’s suggestion it was determined that no action should be taken on traction or any other important legislation pending the investigation of the charges made by the Speaker reflecting on the House, and that the time of adjournment, already agreed upon, should be postponed as long as might be necessary for a thorough investigation of the charges, and for the consideration thereafter of the pending street railway measures.
The next morning the press contained a statement from Governor Yates, in which he said : —
“ As to Speaker Miller’s action in opposing a roll call on the Mueller Bill, . . . I am glad to have the opportunity to say that I believe him to be a brave and honest man, pursuing the only course such a man can pursue under the circumstances. . . . I repeat, that I believe that in opposing what he believed to be corruption, his action is honest and brave, and entitles him to the thanks of every good citizen of Illinois.”
The following morning Representative Schlagenhauf of the majority called the attention of the House to a recent editorial published by Mr. Hinman in the Chicago Inter-Ocean, which was in part as follows : “ And the boodle is ready. And it is in use. And some members already have been bought. And others are negotiating for it. . . . Can money buy the Forty-Third General Assembly of the State of Illinois?” Thereupon the House voted to call Mr. Hinman before its bar to give such information as he might have in support of his charges. Afterwards the House referred this matter to the investigating committee. The Speaker in appointing the committee passed over Mr. Rinaker, placing on it members a majority of whom it was feared could be depended upon to make a whitewashing report. Thereupon Representative Darrow of Chicago, after a hasty consultation, moved to amend by adding six names of leading members, including Mr. Rinaker. This motion was carried on roll call.
This committee on April 30 made its report, finding in part as follows : —
“1. That the evidence produced before us does not establish any real attempt to corruptly influence the action of the Speaker of this House.
“2. That there was no reasonable or substantial ground for the editorial entitled ’Boodle,’published in the Chicago Inter-Ocean on April 21, 1903, and recited in the resolution introduced by Representative Schlagenhauf ; and that the charges therein contained, and as specified further in the testimony of Mr. Hinman, were wholly without truth or foundation as to any member or officer of this House, so far as we have been able to discover. Your committee feels it due to it to say, in view of the publication by Mr. Hinman of his statement read before it, that it regarded the ‘ rumors ’ so frequently referred to by him, and the jocular remarks attributed to members and others, as utterly unworthy of notice, and the charges reflecting upon citizens of Chicago, employed or selected to represent it, who, in the opinion of your committee, deservedly stand high in the estimation of its best citizens, as wholly outside the purposes of this investigation. It also, in the light of the evidence before it, upon the specific charges made by him, placed no credence upon any of his charges of improper conduct or motives upon their part in connection with the subject of this investigation.”
The report of the committee was adopted by a unanimous vote of the House on roll call. Messrs. Lorimer and Hinman, at the close of Mr. Hinman’s testimony before the committee, had left Springfield, not to return during the session. Upon the adoption of the report of the committee, the House by unanimous vote directed its Municipal Committee to report Senate Bill No. 40. Mr. Lindley at once complied, and the bill was promptly passed, with certain amendments proposed and accepted by the representatives of the city, by both houses. It went to the Governor the day before final adjournment. He promptly called on the Attorney-General for an opinion as to its constitutionality, meanwhile requesting both houses of the General Assembly not to adjourn until he had had time fully to consider its terms. The Attorney-General on the last night of the session gave his opinion to the effect that the constitutional objections to the measure were not well founded. The friends of the bill in both houses, believing that to comply with the Governor’s request would lead to a veto, and that if the whole responsibility was thrown on him he would approve it, adjourned sine die.
The Governor took the full ten days allowed by the Constitution to determine whether to veto or sign the bill. After two public hearings, and after receiving much advice, both public and private, he finally on the last day approved it with extreme reluctance. How difficult it was for him to do so appears from the memorandum explaining his action, which he filed with the Secretary of State. In that remarkable document, he said : —
I would veto this bill, were it not that I have great confidence in the City Council of 1903, and great confidence in the people. . . .
“ It has been urged against this bill by the one man in Illinois who was so courageous as to argue for its veto after it was passed . . . that this bill was passed under the whip and spur of a few newspapers in the city of Chicago. This is true. Worse than that, it was passed by default in the Senate and by riot in the House. Intimidation of every possible kind has been resorted to, and within the ten days during which the Governor has the right, under the wise and wholesome and hitherto unquestioned veto power of the Constitution, to consider and examine a bill, these same newspapers have endeavored to complete their usurpation of governmental functions — their ‘ government by newspapers ’ — by ridiculing and abusing the executive.
“I approve the bill in spite of this clamor, because the real question is, shall the city councils of cities, and the people thereof, be permitted to do a right thing, and not, has the right thing been brought about in the wrong way ?
“I believe that this bill should be vetoed, were the General Assembly in session, and that then either this bill should be amended, or a new bill passed without the faults of this bill.”
Thus after six years of strenuous conflict between public and private interests, Senate Bill No. 40 became a law of the State of Illinois. This struggle, if it be as significant as it seems to the writer, means that the employment of private capital in the conduct of the public business has led us to the brink of government by corporations. If the public service corporation is permanently to participate in the public administration, it must submit to public control. Some basis other than that of vested right must be sought for the security of private capital employed in the public business. That, however, is another story.
It is sufficient here to add that present conditions are intolerable. By means of the Act of 1903 the people of Chicago have sought to create conditions that will make the interests of the city and of the companies much more nearly identical, and lead to greatly improved relations, with adequate public control. Conservative men hope that this attempt will succeed. If other solution of the problem be not found, and that speedily, public ownership is inevitable and desirable.
Edwin Burritt Smith.