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mon stockholders, is believed to be without precedent, unless where the proceeding was designed as a hostile measure, intended to inflict injury.” There is obviously no analogy between the circumstance of free tickets given as a matter of courtesy, even by competing lines to the agents of each other, and the case complained of, though the fact is, that I have never been franked except in a single instance on the James river boats, (between Richmond and the Grove,) and have paid in the only case in which I have travelled by the river and bay line between Richmond and Baltimore.
Ques. 5. Furnish a list of the stockholders of the Potomac steamboat company.
Ques. 6. In the testimony of George W. Munford, Esq. is included a copy of a letter from James Ligon, treasurer of the Petersburg railroad company, to you, and your answer to the same. Please furnish a copy of Mr. Ligon's reply to that answer.
Ans. The letter written by me to Mr. Ligon, of the 25th September 1846, as will be seen by reference to it, required no reply, and that of Mr. Ligon of 10th October 1846, as will be perceived on reference to it, was not a reply to mine of the 25th September, but an argument on the part of Mr. Bird, to justify his proposing a ticket under which he could receive 4 cents per mile on the through travel, whilst the companies north of Petersburg would get but 14 cent. This letter was received by me during Mr. R.'s absence from Richmond, and shewn by me to some of the members of the Board of public works, among others to Mr. Heath, and also to Col. Munford, which last named gentleman advised its being sent to Mr. Robinson. Mr. Robinson returned me the letter, with an accompanying letter, copies of both of which are presented herewith, marked A.
PETERSBURG RAILROAD OFFICE,
OCTOBER 10, 1846.
C. W. MACMURDO, Esq. Tres.
Your letter of 25th ult, reached me in due course, and would have been answered sooner if Mr. Bird's engagements had not prevented him from attending to it sooner. He now requests me to write you to express his surprise that the proposition he made you in my letter of the 21st ult. for a through ticket to draw passengers from the steamship Southerner, cannot be for a moment considered by Mr. Robinson. As you say ihat Mr. Robinson only arrived in Richmond the evening before your note, the presumption of Mr. Bird is that he adopted this opinion hastily, and therefore did not give this matter that careful consideration, which, under the circumstances, he would have bestowed on it.
Your objection to the proposition he made is, that the ticket would give our company more than four cents per mile, whilst it would give the companies between Petersburg and Washington one and a quarter cent per mile; this objection would be a good one if it cost your company as much to get and carry the travel as it does ours, or if you had no other way of conveying it to Baltimore than through Washington. You should recollect that we carry our travel at night, and have to run two trains to do it, whilst you transport yours by day light, and that with one train. Besides you have a much larger amount of travel than we have, a reason which Mr. Robinson gives in one of his reports, why the railroads to the north should charge less per mile than those to the south. This is one good reason why we should have the largest share of the ticket. Mr. Bird desires me to remind you too, that we pay Capt. Rives a large sum of money to enable us to obtain this very travel ; of this your company bears no part.
Mr. Bird thinks Mr. Robinson could not have taken these circumstances into consideration, or he would not have rejected his proposition so positively. You must recollect that you are running a line down the Potomac by which you might carry this travel without so great a disparity in the division of fare as that you note by the Washington line. You carry passengers by this line from this place to Baltimore for $4, and Mr. Bird particularly requests me to point out to you that if you were to run the ticket he proposed by this line, you would only have to reduce your fare in the same proportion of ours, that is to say, our present fare being $3 and yours $ 4, a deduction of one seventh from each would make the ticket; if therefore you can carry these passengers at less expense than they cost us, and have it in your power to get as much pay for them in proportion as we do, Mr. Bird thinks his proposition was entitled to some little consideration ; but there are other circumstances which in the opinion of Mr. Bird was worthy of notice. Your company is running this new line in opposition to the bay line, and every passenger that you can divert from that line is so much gained towards effecting the object for which this line was started. You are already conveying passengers who come over our road and wish to take this line at a niuch less rate per mile than we charge them—the difference being greater we believe than the one to which you take so much exception. You are also running another steamboat line on the James river
against the bay line, (or a part of it,)
and the Richmond and Petersburg company (whose president takes the same view of the ticket proposed by Mr. Bird that you do) carries passengers to it for less than a cent per mile, some of whom going to Old Point in the summer season, or from the lower country to the springs, go over your road at a charge of 5 or 6 cents per mile; indeed both of your companies are carrying a certain class of passengers in connexion with the boat for nothing. All this it appears is done voluntarily by your companies to get travel from the bay line, yet when we propose a ticket that would materially assist you to do this, it cannot for a moment be considered. Mr. Bird desires me to say to you, that in his opinion this ticket would give you the whole of the travel that would be diverted from the Southerner, for it would then be carried by your line at the same rate it would go by the bay line, and as you have the best and most expeditious, the travel would no doubt take it. This he believes is proved by the fact, that when your fare was nearest to that charged by the bay line, you got the greatest part of the travel. These statements are not made with any intention of criticising your arrangements, but simply to shew that the proposition made by Mr. Bird was not so unreasonable as you seem to view
it. Mr. Bird desires me to say that it was made in all sincerity, and if your company had accepted it, he believes it would have been attended with beneficial results to you. If loss of travel should ensue to your roads from the refusal of Mr. Robinson to go into this arrangement, Mr. Bird says he will regret it very much, but will have the satisfaction of knowing that he has done all he could consistent with his duty to his company to avoid it.
Very respectfully and truly yours,
JEFFERSON COUNTY, VA., OCTOBER 16, 1846. Dear Sir,
I received in due course of mail your letter enclosing that of Mr. Ligon of the 12th, which I return you herewith, in order that Mr. Heath and Mr. Munford may have an opportunity if they should desire it, of reperusing it. I think if they will do so with care, that they will concur with me in opinion that it is unworthy of the notice of a reply. It surely cannot be necessary to point out the difference between taking low rates on lines intended to baffle Mr. Bird's attempt to keep up a competition with, and thereby reduce the rates on the great mail line, and favouring this attempt, by reducing the rates by the great mail line, as well as by the Mount Vernon. It seems to me also unnecessary to expose Mr. Bird's other views, and a misrepresentation which he makes in the letter of one of my opinions, inasmuch as all this has nothing to do with the matter now before the Board of public works, which is not on what terms a ticket would be fair between the companies on the inland route via Washington, but whether the Petersburg railroad company, (who have withdrawn from the arbitration of the Board of public works on this subject on the ground that there was nothing to be arbitrated,) shall be allowed to unite in a through ticket between Baltimore and Weldon and Charleston, with the James river and Chesapeake bay boats. The state has already lost not less than $ 40,000 by this proceeding, and I hope sincerely it will be in the power of the Board of public works to arrest it. You will please shew this to Mr. Heath and Mr. Munford, and submit it with the letter of Mr. Ligon, to governor Smith, as soon as he may have returned to Richmond.
M. ROBINSON. C. W. MACMURDO, Esq. Tr., Richmond, Va.
SATURDAY EVENING, FEBRUARY 27, 1847.
The committee met pursuant to adjournment.
Sundry interrogatories (which had been prepared by the attorney general, Mr. Baxter, in accordance with a request of the committee at its last meeting, to be propounded to the president and directors of the Petersburg company,) were submitted, to which were added several others by a member of the committee and by the counsel for the memorialists; these interrogatories were transmitted by the clerk to Petersburg, with a request that they would be responded to by Tuesday evening next, that they might be laid before the committee.
Subpænas were issued by the clerk, directed to the president and directors of said company, requiring their attendance before the committee on Tuesday evening next 4 o'clock.
Copies of the contract between Francis E. Rives and the Petersburg company, in relation to the Portsmouth and Roanoke railroad, together with the ratification of the same, were directed to be made a part of the proceedings of the committee.
On motion, the committee adjourned till Tuesday evening next 4 o'clock.
Articles of Agreement entered into this 14th day of June 1845, between Francis E. Rives of the one part,
and the Petersburg Railroad Company of the other part.
Whereas the said Rives is the proprietor of the Weldon bridge, constructed over the Roanoke river in North Carolina, (subject to a mortgage thereupon, to secure a debt of about $ 8000 due the state of North Carolina,) and of that portion of the railroad constructed by the Portsmouth and Roanoke railroad company, which extends from the town of Weldon to the Margaretsville depot in that state; and he has offered to sell the same to the said Portsmouth and Roanoke railroad company for $ 50,000, payable $ 20,000 in cash and the residue in three equal annual payments; which offer the said company has rejected : And whereas the said company obtained from the legislature of North Carolina, the passage of an act to authorize the sale of the whole railroad and other property belonging thereto, unto a new company, which act will go into operation, if ratified by the general assembly of Virginia: And whereas, from the present condition of the said company, it is believed that its means are not adequate to the purchase of the said Rives's interest, and the continuance of railroad business and operations, unless the whole road and stock can be sold out to a new company, which must necessarily be effected at a very low price, so that the large pecuniary interest of the state of Virginia in said road must, in any event, be almost wholly lost; and if such new company be organized, it will most probably be by nonresidents of this state, and her interests in the upper railroads will be greatly impaired in value : And whereas it is of great importance to the stockholders in the Petersburg railroad company, of which the state is one to the extent of $323,500, to prevent the completion of any such plan as is above specified; and the said Rives being willing, for a reasonable compensation, to prevent his portion of said road from being used with his consent for the purposes aforesaid, the following stipulations have been agreed upon by and between the parties to these presents :
The Petersburg railroad company hereby agrees to pay to Francis E. Rives the sum of sixty thousand dollars ($ 60,000) in the following manner : $ 2500 on the first day of September next, and the same sum every three months thereafter, until the sum of $ 20,000 shall have been paid to him ; $ 1250 every three months after that time, until the sum of $ 10,000 more shall have been paid ; and after that period $ 750 every three months, until the whole $ 60,000 shall be fully paid : Provided, That during the whole period aforesaid that part of the Portsmouth and Roanoke railroad which was purchased by him from Weldon to Margarettsville and the Weldon bridge shall remain unused as a railroad for the transportation of persons and produce, but in case the said road and bridge shall be so used, then, from the day when they or either of them shall be so used for railroad purposes, the payments aforesaid shall cease. But in case the said railroad shall be put in ordinary operation by any legal proceeding, or being in operation shall be the subject of any legal proceedings, then so soon as such proceedings shall terminate by a decision in favour of the said Rives's rights, the payments to him shall recommence and be continued until the said sum of sixty thousand dollars shall be paid as aforesaid without interest : And provided also, That if any other railroad be constructed to connect the Portsmouth railroad with any point on Roanoke river, then the said payments shall utterly cease from the time when such other road shall be used for railroad purposes. And in case the Weldon bridge shall at any time within three years be sold under the mortgage held on it by the state of North Carolina, then the Petersburg railroad company agrees to advance and pay to the said Rives, in case he shall be the purchaser thereof, as much money as will be sufficient to satisfy the debt, interest and expenses due the state under the said mortgage. And upon the purchase of the said bridge by the said Rives, which he hereby binds himself to do, if required by the Petersburg railroad company, the said company shall be entitled to one moiety of the said bridge, with all the appurtenances, rights and advantages belonging to and arising from the same, and the said Rives shall be entitled to the other moiety thereof : Provided, That if a railroad from Weldon to the Portsmouth railroad be then in regular use and operation, this article shall be of no effect. In case the said Rives shall sell the said road (excepting the iron) or the same shall
be by any legal means condemned for the purposes of a railroad, then it is agreed that the price or damages allowed to the said Rives shall be applied in the first instance to satisfy the said sum of sixty thousand dollars, or so much as shall remain unpaid, and if the whole shall have been paid to the said Rives, then the said company shall receive the amount which it has paid without interest. And so if the whole shall not have been paid by the company, then after the debt to Rives shall have been paid, the company shall be reimbursed without interest, the amount paid by it, provided the amount of such damages or price be sufficient for that purpose, and if the same be more than sufficient then the surplus shall be paid, one moiety to the said Rives and one moiety to the said company. It is understood that nothing contained herein shall be so construed as to prevent the said Rives from disposing of the iron and spikes contained in said road for his sole use and benefit. It is also understood that this contract shall be binding on the company until a special meeting of the stockholders can be assembled to ratify or reject it.
Witness the hands and seals of the parties to this contract, this 14th day of June 1845.
At a meeting of the president and directors of the Board of public works, held Saturday July 12, 1845, the following preamble and resolution were adopted :
Mr. Bird, president of the Petersburg railroad company, presented to the board for its information, a copy of a contract lately agreed upon between Francis E. Rives and the directory of said company, and stated that a meeting of the stockholders thereof would be held on the 18th instant, for the special purpose of rejecting or adopting the same; and further stated that the contract itself had been entered into on the part of the directory, with the express view of stopping all transportation on so much of the Portsmouth and Roanoke railroad with its bridge, as had been recently decreed by a court of law, in North Carolina, to be the property of said Rives, and so stopping it that the profit of said transportation might be secured to their own company,
The board having fully considered the avowed object of this contract, on the part of the directory of the Petersburg railroad company, and the highly injurious operation of it if carried into effect, upon the business and prosperity, if not the very existence of the Portsmouth and Roanoke railroad company, and having so considered it in connexion with the very large pecuniary interest which belongs to the state in both of them, is clearly of opinion that it would in no wise consist with its duty to give to that contract its sanction. Bound as this board is, by the very nature and purposes of the trust which it exercises, to maintain as far as it can, the rights and interests of the various companies which the legislature has deemed it proper from time to time to establish and subscribe for, it can never engage as a party in any of the contests or enmities which exist among the companies themselves, nor co-operate in any scheme or contract whatever, which is calculated or designed to place any one of them under the injurious control of another. The clear duty of this board is that of the strictest impartiality and the strictest justice to all. It is its duty to protect all, helping all to the full extent of its power, and to harmonize all as it has the means, by adjusting their occasional conflicts upon grounds of equity and of mutual advantage. Were it ever so certain in any particular case, that the pecuniary interest of the state would be promoted by a contract which would stop the operations of one company and transfer its business to another, the board would not on that account be authorized to make it, for by so doing it would practically repeal a law of the land, and set at naught all the commercial, political, military, or other considerations of policy, upon which that law was enacted, and upon which its necessity or its value might have been regarded as chiefly depending.
Acting upon these general views, the board cannot consent to subject the Portsmouth and Roanoke railroad company, in which the state in addition to many and weighty objects of public policy, has a money interest of more than 400,000 dollars, to the operation of a contract, which in the present condition of that company, cannot be otherwise than seriously and perhaps fatally felt: It is therefore
Resolved, That the proxy of the Board of public works be requested and instructed to oppose the ratification of the contract entered into between Mr. Rives and the Petersburg railroad company, at the meeting of the stockholders to be held on the 18th inst.
TUESDAY EVENING, MARCH 2, 4 o'clock.
The committee met pursuant to adjournment.
Answers to the interrogatories which had been propounded to the president of the Petersburg company, (H. D. Bird,) and to the directors of said company, Messrs. Bragg and May, were laid before the committee, and having been read, were received by the committee and ordered to be printed.
Messrs. Bolling and Jones, two other directors of said company, and to whom questions had been propounded, were excused from appearing before the committee to answer the same.
William T. Joynes, Esq. was permitted to appear before the committee as counsel for the Petersburg company.
Francis E. Rives, Esq. requested the committee to permit him to make a statement in relation to the contract which had been entered into between himself and the Petersburg company, which was refused; he was then swom as a witness, but requesting to be excused from answering questions from a sense of delicacy, a motion was made that he be excused—which was decided in the negative. He then proceeded to answer an interrogatory propounded by a member of the committee-and it being understood that no further questions would be asked him, his deposition was read and closed, and ordered to be printed.
The counsel of the Petersburg company opposed the motion to excuse Mr. Rives from answering the question which had been asked him.
On motion the following resolution was adopted :
Resolved, That the committee will on to-morrow evening 4 o'clock, if the testimony shall at that time be closed, hear the arguments of counsel, and to allot one hour and a quarter to each one of the counsel of each party.
The committee then adjourned till to-morrow evening 4 o'clock.
Questions propounded to H. D. Bird, Esq., President of the Petersburg Railroad Company.
Ques. 1. Was there any contract, agreement or understanding, express or implied, direct or indirect, between Francis E. Rives and the directors of the Petersburg railroad company, previous to the sale of the Portsmouth and Roanoke railroad in North Carolina, to the effect that if the said Rives should become the purchaser of said road, the Petersburg company would either purchase the said road, or pay the said Rives any money, or make with him any contract for his indemnity, if the said railroad should cease to be used as a railroad ? Was there held out to the said Rives any inducement or promise of advantage to be derived to him from the said Petersburg company, if he should prevent the use of the said road by the Portsmouth and Roanoke company, or by any other railroad company?
Ques. 2. Answer the same question as to the time prior to the decision of the case of the State against Francis E. Rives in the supreme court of North Carolina.
Answer to questions 1 and 2. There was no contract, agreement or understanding, express or implied, direct or indirect, between Francis E. Rives and the directors of the Petersburg railroad company; neither was there any inducement nor promise of advantage to be derived to him from the Petersburg railroad company, to the effect as stated in the first question, previous to the sale of the Portsmouth and Roanoke railroad in North Carolina, or prior to the decision of the supreme court of that state.
Some time before Mr. Rives purchased Col. Rochelle's claims against the Portsmouth company, the latter gentleman came to me and offered to sell them to the Petersburg railroad company. I told him that we would not buy them, but I gave it as my opinion, that if he would have the road sold and become the purchaser, he could sell the iron and timber to our company if they were removed and delivered at Garysburg.
After this Mr. French of Southampton, applied to me to purchase the same claims, which he informed me he had bought from Rochelle, and I made him the same answer that I made that gentleman. Rochelle came to me a second time and informed me he had purchased his claims back from French and wished to sell them to us, and I answered him as I had answered at first.
After this Mr. Rives enquired of me what was the largest amount I thought the Petersburg railroad company would give for the iron and timber Rochelle had offered to sell us, if delivered at Garysburg. I think I told him $ 18,000. After this the road was sold and Mr. Rives became the purchaser. He then made us various propositions, but no agreement was ever entered into with him by the board of directors of our company before the 14th of June 1845, some months after the supreme court of North Carolina had decided the case in his favour. So far from this, Mr. Rives had made various propositions to the Portsmouth company with a view of selling to them his entire interest in the road and his claiins against them, one of which was as late as April or May 1845.
Ques. 3. What amount of money (if any) has been paid F. E. Rives under the contract of 14th June 1845, and at what dates? Has any money been paid F. E. Rives on any other contract or for any other services ? If so state the amount and when paid ; and if the contract be in writing, produce it.