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who come hither to commune together, with a view to their more perfect adaptability to man's comfort and convenience, concerning the great systems of street locomotion in our midst, and the various mechanisms and appliances that belong to the subject. You are here for the good of the public, and of your fel. low men everywhere, and the great cause you represent commends itself to every inhabitant of the land. Nothing marks this age with more distinctness, than the advance that has been made in the direction of facilities for the trans. portation of people through the streets of our cities and towns, and no nation has been more anxious to share in that advance than ours. But I must not be unmindful that I am to deal with other subjects, and while I need not assure you of my great interest in all of your deliberations, I must content myself with this simple reference to them. May your deliberations be fruitful of good results; may you feel yourselves that you have accomplished a great work in coming together in this city of the nation. I feel satisfied myself that these results will be all that man can wish for, and trust that assurance will be shared by all who hear me. [Applause.]
I am to speak of Washington, the great and the good, the hero, the patriot and the statesman; of him whose wisdom was so profound, whose heroism was so great, whose virtues were so many and so eminent, whose life was so pure, who was so modest and so simple, so unselfish, patient and long suffering, that it is not too much to say he was born in the early days of our history as a nation that his great life might shed a light over its entire future. His name has become the property of the nation. Of course you cannot expect me to say anything new or original about such a man as this. His own country can never cease honoring him, and the people of America will continue to sing his praises to the remotest generation. His name must be remembered as long as the English language is spoken. Nay more, in every land where freedom is known or dreamed of, in every nation where human rights are respected; in every clime where man can exercise his right to free thought, everywhere throughout the world, Christian or pagan, savage, civilized or barbarous, where the word “Liberty" is known or spoken, or where any expression can be given to the idea conveyed by that word, the name of this greatest of the men of human history will be heard and revered as a household word. We people of this city are proud of her fair eminence among the cities of our land. It is in very deed and truth the city of Washington. Its name is no mere designation. It was not given simply to distinguish it from other great cities in this and in other lands. It was not intended to add another laurel to the great name it bears, to help hand down to posterity the name and fame of the hero of our revolution. No, none of these. This is the city of Washington, Here by the banks of the river he loved, amid these surrounding hills, upon this lap of earth, then a wilderness abounding in swamps and brawling brooks, he laid the foundation, devised the plans, and marked out the streets of what was destined to be the capital of a nation that was to be the wonder of the ages. His wisdom taught him that here in this Western world was to grow a great and powerful nation, and he determined that it should have a Capital worthy of its greatness. The great Capitals of the world were all representative of the grandeur of their respective nations. They stood for all that the countries had gained in wealth, in art, in civilization, science and culture. Rome, Paris, London, St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Berlin were all representative, and Washington knew that our country could be no exception. He was wiser than his generation. It remains for those of the generation of to-day to make this city what he meant it should be; what he knew it must be. It has taken almost a century to teach the people of this land the wisdom already gained by their ancestors so many long years ago. And now the city stands before us, fair and beautiful, in its public buildings and parks; more fair and more beautiful in the work done by its private citizens. Beautiful it certainly is in the verdure of ten thousand trees now putting on the gorgeous foliage of the dying year, with its beautiful streets, noble parks and squares, and its fountains and statues. Dear to us who live in it, admired and loved by every American citizen who comes to see it, for every American feels that it is his city-the property of his nation.
I hope I speak the sentiment of all who hear me when I say that this city is worthy of the proud name that it bears. This is the greatest tribute that can be paid to it that here we have a city worthy of so great a name. [Applause,]
The progress of our city has been phenomenal for the past decade. There are many of us who can remember when Washingtou was a mere village. She has now stretched her arms out over the surrounding hills, and has gathered, and is gathering into her borders, people who a little while ago never dreamed that they would ever be counted among citizens of the Capital. This is largely, almost entirely, due to the street-railways that the enterprise of our citizens has constructed. [Applause.]
We can all of us see that as these street-railways branch out into the neighboring districts, these neighborhoods grow into and become parts of our city. I am happy to say that the railroads of this city are under good management ; they are in good control, and for the most part well taken care of. They are not free from the usual accidents that occur to such railroads ; they are not without the usual complaints that attend such enterprises in all cities. Our railroads have had the experience of other city railroads. They have been the subject of comment and complaint among our citizens ; but I am glad to say that our railroads are presided over by patient, saintly men, who do not care for complaints. [Laughter.] My brother Hurt there, broad-shouldered and stalwart, has shown himself equal to any emergency. He has the worst of it. Mr. Willard, Mr. White, and Mr. Pearson, and all the other Presidents of these roads, are gentlemen whom I can commend to you as possessed of the utmost patience and endurance. I happen to have lived among them for a lifetime, and have experience of their good traits. [Applause.]
I am happy to be here to-night (and I speak for my colleagues in the government of this District, as well as myself), not only because I am glad to greet you as visitors to our city, but because I hope to get from you the best advice about the government and control of these street-railroads that are becoming such an important interest in our affairs. I have not been able to attend your deliberations, but I shall read with interest the record of what you have been doing. What I don't understand will be explained by the skillful engineers who form part of our Government, and there is nothing to prevent the complete utilization in our community of all that is best, as the result of your deliberations.
Again I welcome you to our city, again I wish to express to you, on behalf of its citizens, their appreciation of the value of your assemblage, and of your exhibit of the great advance that has been made in the most useful of all the contributions of this age to man's comfort and convenience. [Applause.]
RESPONDED TO BY MR. R. DUDLEY FRAYSER.
The President: The next toast is:
Corporations— Their duties to the people, and the people's indebtedness to them.”
This toast was to have been responded to by the Hon. G. Hilton Scribner, of New York.
were about to gather at the Banquet we received notice that he had been detained, and could not be present; but Mr. Frayser, with a courage that is gratifying and consoling, has consented to take his place, and give us a thoroughly impromptu talk upon this important toast.
MR. FRAYSER: Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen–I can hardly imagine why I was selected to speak upon Corporations, unless it be for the reason that a year ago, at the meeting of our Association, I told my brother members that I came to be the lawyer for one of the street-railroads in Memphis. I liked the corporation pretty well, and became so enamored of its assets that soon I got a little stock in it, and very soon, with my friends, got all the stock nearly, and eventually became President of the road. [Laughter.] I suppose that is the reason why I am selected to respond to this toast.
Well, you are all aware that corporations are called “greedy," voracious," “soulless," grinding.” But when we reason together as sensible people, we wonder at the ignorance of those who are not willing to learn, and verily these are the only ones that call corporations such wicked and ugly names. When we come seriously to think about it, we all must see that corporations are really indi. viduals in a body that get together the great aggregate of capital that accomplishes such great wonders in our glorious country. How could you, my brother members, ladies and guests, have been here to-night but for the aid of corporations; what brought you in palatial cars and through beautiful dales, and past picture scenes of verdure and beauty but corporations. How came we on our journey here to sit on cushioned seats and in handsomely upholstered sleepers, gazing through beautiful plate glass windows, looking upon green meadows as we swiftly passed, taking in with eager eyes the glories of nature as we journeyed over hills and through valleys and dales, beautiful vistas of flowing grass which looked so smooth and level, and indeed seemed as is our Maker had stooped from heaven and smoothed it over that we might gaze upon it with special admiration? What brought us here? What brought this Convention together around these banquet tables ? What brought us amongst fair women and gallant men to-night except the aggregate brains of men and money that was put into corporations and aided in forming and building these railroads which stretch their iron arms into every part of this marvelous land ? It was corporations that accomplished all these things. [Applause.)
A few days ago when I passed over that beautiful and grand structure that connects Brooklyn with New York City, and spans the East River, I thought to myself, where could the means have been raised and the great amount of capital secured to erect this great monument of skill and ingenuity, except it be through corporate instrumentality? I have often wondered what would have been the condition of the far West this day if we had not reached that wonderland by means of our railroads, and then the thought arises and the question: What brought that great country into existence and peopled it? What could have done it but these civilizing and enterprising railroads, by the aggregation of capital, and piercing their way through new territory and building up great towns and cities alongside of their lines. All this was done by the aid of corporations, and all railroads are incorporated that I know of. I believe the most gigantic scheme which ever started, and which embodies the corporate idea in the wisest uses and workings, is the great National Banking system of this country, which has carried this country through our terrible war, and successfully through so many periods of depression. At the close of our late war between the States, when everything seemed to be dead, when there was no money to move the wheels of commerce, when banks were suspending all over this country, when money was wanting to meet the necessities of trade, it was under the idea of corporate formation, the incorporation of banks, that all our National banks were established throughout this land, and then prosperity bloomed and blossomed, and the grand and far-reaching idea under which these corporations were put into existence is, in my opinion, the greatest financial scheme that has ever been conceived by man. This one great feat of incorporation should make the name of “Corporation” a loved name to us all, and especially to every American citizen. [Applause.]
Corporations are created by the Legislatures of the States and by acts of the Congress of the United States, and under the law creating them they are allowed to do no wrong. They cannot do anything except it be according to the laws of the State or according to the laws of the United States, and in all the performance under the acts in all things that corporations are authorized to do, they are executed under the laws of the particular State or under the laws of the United States. It is true that corporations are frequently blamed for acts that are committed under the name of the corporation ; but whenever that is done, I will say to those who do not know the workings of the corporation, that the consequences of those acts might be brought against the individual who executed that part of the duty of the corporation and not against the body politic or corporation itself. The corporation created by law sometimes has some bad officers, but that is not the fault of the law creating it. Corporations sometimes attempt to accomplish some great things and fail in their attempt, but their intentions are good, but, like good intentioned individuals who fail in great undertakings, should be consoled with, not needlessly censured. The street-railroad corporations sometimes fail to come on time with their cars when the ladies desire to go shopping, but if the ladies did but know it or could find out the reason, they would not demur. It might be that some truck had broken down on the line, or it might be that the car was delayed by some fire engine, which had stretched its line of hose across the track at a big fire, and all the cars were stopped, or it might be one of the horses had had a sun-stroke and died on the track. All these mishaps frequently occur. The ladies, if they knew these things, would not be so quick to find fault with the corporations. The ladies have frequently, no doubt, called their servant to stop a car when it came along, and the car was away behind time and did not come along as soon as desired, but if they knew the causes (and there are many) they would not be so harsh with corporations. The ladies should not complain; the officers of the corporation are not to blame; these are things that cannot be provided against. In the best regulated families accidents occur, and they will happen until the world ends. The officers of the corporations should not be hung for these things; they ought not to be put in jail either, as I have heard some of our patrons say, and our charters ought not to be taken away from us for these awful shortcomings, as I have heard some of the municipal officers say. We, street-railroad companies, have all sorts of complaints thrown in our faces, and are charged with great monstrosities; but it is not on account of the corporations, as I say ; it is on account of some bad employees that we have, who have done some wrong or committed some error ; and the corporation must suffer for their neglect of duty. In spite of all this talk against corporations, I wish to say we are your friends, and are not to blame for the many annoyances you so often suffer. We do our best, and whenever we fail to do all that we undertake to do, the failure is not to be charged to the neglect of the corporation, but is owing to some of the employees of the corporation who fail to perform their particular duties.
I am to-night glad to respond to the toast Corporations," simply because I think it the duty of all street-railroad men to do whatever they can to accommodate the public. But some one will say, “Oh, that you will always dowhen you get the nickel,” intimating we must have the nickel before we attempt to accommodate the public. This reflection does us great injustice.
I passed throught Cincinnati not long ago, and I saw that the street.car companies there gave all their employees a day of their own, without loss of pay, free to go to the Exposition then open, to have a good time. I believe a great many people would say by this act that the street-railroad corporation did a good and generous deed. I have heard my brother Holmes state that his corporation in Chicago has a library at each depot, fitted out with good books and the latest papers, and that the Company invites all the street-car employees to go to these libraries and spend their leisure hours in reading and gathering wisdom and devoting their time to useful purposes, that they might otherwise spend in saloons and other wicked places in the city. You see that the street-car corporations do some good and merit some praise at least. All corporations that are created by the States and the United States are created for the purpose of doing good ; and these corporations that are created by these Governments are created and chartered by Governments that intend they shall do no wrong. Going back to the English Government, the King can do no wrong, and corporations are brought into existence by our respective States and the United States not to do wrong, but to do good.
I cannot imagine such a thing as a greedy " corporation, a "voracious"