Слике страница


subject to public regulation. It remains only to ascertain whether the warehouses of these plaintiffs in error, and the business which is carried on there, come within the operation of this principle.

“ For this purpose we accept as true the statements of fact contained in the elaborate brief of one of the counsel of the plaintiffs in

From these it appears that ' The great producing region of the West and Northwest sends its grain by water and rail to Chicago, where the greater part of it is shipped by vessel for transportation to the seaboard by the Great Lakes, and some of it is forwarded by railway to the Eastern ports. .. Vessels, to some extent, are loaded in the Chicago harbor, and sailed through the St. Lawrence directly to Europe. ... The quantity (of grain) received in Chicago has made it the greatest grain market in the world. This business has created a demand for means by which the immense quantity of grain can be handled or stored, and these have been found in grain warehouses, which are commonly called elevators, because the grain is elevated from the boat or car, by machinery operated by steam, into the bins prepared for its reception, and elevated from the bins, by a like process, into the vessel or car which is to carry it on. .. In this way the largest traffic between the citizens of the country north and west of Chicago, and the citizens of the country lying on the Atlantic coast north of Washington is in grain which passes through the elevators of Chicago. In this way the trade in grain is carried on by the inhabitants of seven or eight of the great States of the West with four or five of the States lying on the seashore, and forms the largest part of interstate commerce in these States. The grain warehouses or elevators in Chicago are immense structures, holding from 300,000 to 1,000,000 bushels at one time, according to size. They are divided into bins of large capacity and great strength. They are located with the river harbor on one side and the railway tracks on the other ; and the grain is run through them from car to vessel, or boat to car, as may be denianded in the course of business. It has been found impossible to preserve each owner's grain separate, and this has given rise to a system of inspection and grading, by which the grain of different owners is mixed, and receipts issued for the number of bushels which are negotiable, and redeemable in like kind, upon demand. This mode of conducting the business was inaugurated more than twenty years ago, and has grown to immense proportions. The railways have found it impracticable to own such elevators, and public policy

forbids the transaction of such business by the carrier ; the ownership has, therefore, been by private individuals, who have embarked their capital and devoted their industry to such business as a private pursuit.'

“ In this connection it must also be borne in mind that, although in 1874 there were in Chicago fourteen warehouses adapted to this particular business, and owned by about thirty persons, nine business firms controlled thein, and that the prices charged and received for storage were such as have been from year to year agreed upon and established by the different elevators or warehouses in the City of Chicago, and which rates have been annually published in one or more newspapers printed in said city, in the month of January in each year, as the established rates for the year then next ensuing such publication. Thus it is apparent that all the elevating facilities through which these vast productions of seven or eight great States of the West' must pass on the way to four or five of the States on the seashore may be a 'virtual' monopoly.

Under such circumstances it is difficult to see why, if the common carrier, or the miller, or the ferryman, or the innkeeper, or the wharfinger, or the baker, or the cartman, or the hackney-coachman, pursues a public employment and exercises ' a sort of public office,' these plaintiffs in error do not. They stand, to use again the language of their counsel, in the very ' gateway of commerce,' and take toll from all who pass. Their business most certainly “tends to a. common charge, and is become a thing of public interest and use.' Every bushel of grain for its passage ‘pays a toll, which is a common charge,' and, therefore, according to Lord Hale, every such warehouseman ‘ ought to be under public regulation, viz.: that he

take but reasonable toil.' Certainly, if any business can be clothed 'with a public interest, and cease to be juris privati only,' this has been. It may not be made so by the operation of the Constitution of Illinois or this statute, but it is by the facts."

The warehouses in question in that case, as hereinbefore stated, were virtually part of the system of public transportation ; they had become virtually part of the public highways. This fact would seem to constitute something analogous to the dedication of a street to the use of the public, even though there had been no formal condemnation of the land, or of an easement therein ; and to furnish a reason based on such quasi dedication, for holding the owners of the warehouses to public obligations resting on that ground.

In the Munn case there was a vigorous dissenting opinion by Mr. Justice Field, in which Mr. Justice Strong joined. But the principle decided in that case has been reaffirmed on many occasions by the Supreme Court, and is firmly established in our jurisprudence.

State control of public employments may be exercised under statutes, or in many cases by the courts without statutes. But there has been in late years a great increase in the exercise of such control by statute. It will be sufficient to give one instance of such, in a few sections of the New York statute defining the powers of the Board of Railroad Commissioners.(a) They are als follows:

“$ 157. General Powers and Duties of Board.—The board shall have power to administer oaths in all matters relating to its duties, so far as necessary to enable it to discharge such duties, shall have general supervision of all railroads, and shall examine the same and keep informed as to their condition, and the manner in which they are operated for the security and accommodation of the public and their compliance with the provisions of their charters and of law. The commissioners or either of them in the performance of their official duties inay enter and remain during business hours in the cars, offices and depots, and upon the railroads of any railroad corporation within the state, or doing business therein ; and may examine the books and affairs of any such corporation and compel the production of books and papers or copies thereof, and the board may cause to be subpænaed witnesses, and if a person duly subpænaed fails to obey such subpæna without reasonable cause, or shall without such cause refuse to be examined, or to answer a legal or pertinent question, or to produce a book or paper which he is directed by subpæna to bring, or to subscribe his deposition after it has been correctly reduced to writing, the board may take such proceedings as are authorized by the Code of Civil Procedure upon the like failure or refusal of a witness subpænaed to attend the trial of a civil action

(a) Laws of New York, 1892, vol. 2, p. 2129.

by the

before a court of record or a referee appointed by such court. The board shall also take testimony upon, and have a hearing for and against any proposed change of the law relating to any railroad, or of the general railroad law, if requested to do so by the legislature, or by the committee on railroads of the senate or the assembly, or governor, and

may take such testimony and have such a hearing when requested to do so by any railroad corporation, or incorporated organization representing agricultural or commercial interests in the state, and shall report their conclusions in writing to the legislature, committee, governor, corporation or organization making such request ; and shall recommend and draft such bills as will in its judgment protect the people's interest in and upon the railroads of this state.

"§ 158. Reports of Railroad Corporations. The board shall prescribe the form of the report required by the railroad law to be made by railroad corporations, and may from time to time make such changes and additions in such form, giving to the corporations six months' notice before the expiration of any fiscal year, of any changes or additions which would require any alteration in the method or form of keeping their accounts, and on or before September fifteenth in each year, shall furnish a blank form for such report. When the report of any corporation is defective, or believed to be erroneous, the board shall notify the corporation to amend the same within thirty days. The originals of the reports, subscribed and sworn to as prescribed by law, shall be preserved in the office of the board.

$ 159. Investigation of Accidents.—The board shall investigate the cause of any accident on any railroad resulting in loss of life or injury to persons, which in their judgment shall require investigation, and include the result thereof in their annual report to the legislature. Before making any such examination or investigation, or any investigation or examination under this article, reasonable notice shall be given to the corporation, person or persons conducting and managing such railroad of the time and place of commencing the same. The general superintendent or manager of every railroad shall inform the board of any such accident immediately after its occurrence. If the examination of the books and affairs of the corporation, or of witnesses in its ernploy, shall be necessary in the course of any

examination or investigation into its affairs, the board, or a commissioner thereof, shall sit for such purpose in the city or town of this state where the principal business office of the corporation is situated if requested so to do by the corporation ; but the board may require copies of books and papers, or abstracts thereof, to be sent to them to any part of this state.

Ş 160. Recommendations of Board, where Law has been Violated. --If, in the judgment of the board, it shall appear that any railroad corporation has violated any constitutional provision or law, or neglects in any respect to comply with the terms of the law by which it was created, or unjustly discriminates in its charges for services, or usurps any authority not granted by law, or refuses to comply with the provisions of any law, or with any recommendation of the board, it shall give notice thereof in writing to the corporation, and if the violation, neglect or refusal is continued after such notice, the board may forth with present the matter to the attorney-general, who shall take such proceedings thereon as may be necessary for the protection of the public interests.

"§ 161. Recommendations of Board, when Repairs or other Changes are Necessary.--If in the judgment of the board, after a careful personal examination of the same, it shall appear that repairs are necessary upon any railroad in the state, or that any addition to the rolling stock, or any addition to or change of the station or station-houses, or that additional terminal facilities shall be afforded, or that any change of the rates of fare for transporting freight or passengers or in the mode of operating the road or conducting its business, is reasonable and expedient in order to promote the security, convenience and accommodation of the public, the board shall give notice and information in writing to the corporation of the improvements and changes which they deem to be proper, and shall give such corporation an opportunity for a full hearing thereof, and if the corporation refuses or neglects to make such repairs, improvements and changes, within a reasonable time after such information and hearing, and fails to satisfy the board that no action is required to be taken by it, the board shall fix the time within which the same shall be made, which time it may extend. It shall be the duty of the corporation, person or persons owning or operating the railroad to coniply with such decisions and recommendations of the board as are just and reasonable. If it fails to do so the board shall present the facts in the case to the attorney-general for his consideration and action, and shall also report them in its annual or in a special report to the legislature.

$ 162. Legal Effect of Recommendations and Action of the Board.

« ПретходнаНастави »