It is supposed that there have been one thousand millions of dollara expended on railroads in the United States; bat there yet remains to be written a atartliug history of the duplicity, f mud and inoompetence whioh have attended their construction aud managameBt, and the formation of the companies which have led to the ruin of many who han embarked in them. The main body of these roads were projected by the most worthy ot our citizens, through an ennobling spirit 'of enterprise, and with a view to develop the resources of the country, benefit their fellaw-eings, and obtain a l"gitimate return for capital thus boldly au,l creditably invested. Others, however, were recklessly starte. by worthless persons, for the exclusive parpose of enriching themselves at the expense of a cheated and plunderod ? mmunity. In the case of many of these roads not the least possible chance existed for gaining profit to the stockholders, owing to the lack 01 available business, stilt -hey were drawn iuto the mest extravagant expe.ditures, by having the names of individuals in whom t!Jey had eonfidence paraded before them a' '::rectors and heavy shareholdere. A heavy responsibility rests upon these persons, who, under the false pre tonce of affording to the limited capitalist an adequate return for his or her investment, have ruthlessly swiBdled them of what may hav3 occupied years of honest industry to accnmulate. If the course of such persons descives the condemnation of all just men, tho h dividuals under whose charge the profits of manifestly good paying roads have been salveited from thcir legitimate channel. by mismanagement, or a8 a cotemporary more jnstly terms it, dishonesty, are no less aeserving of reprobation and punishment. Long before the frauds of Schuyler and his more recent brothers in crime were perpetrated, we were satisfied that there was something radically wrong in our railroad system. We thought then, and later developments have only confirmed our belief, that too much pewer was vested in a few leading men, without the periodical application ef t'he healthy checks afforded by a general investi!ation of their administration by the stookholder,. If the power of the directors were limited to what is absolutely necessary to the governJnpnt of the concerns of the comp&ny, and . b 4 \ were required to giTe bonds for henest couJuct and frequent reports Qftheir stewardshir, and often changed, we believe toot the evils Arising from the present ineompetency auo systematic plunder of the stockholders veaid cease. If the stockholders are nnmerous and scattered, and many of them are women and children, they still ha' e. the power and skill, if they will but exercise it tkrough others, to protect themselves. Let them elect men whom they know, and const&ntiy apply the healthy principle of rotation ia office. Let them arrange among themselves a system that will cause the .tate ot the concerns of the company to be periodically laid before them, and determine to be al well posted up in its details as they are in the more immediate uUHiness at 3 :s of life. Frevent the directors from bi.j ing and selling stock wilen they haTe thus the power of depression or inflation in their hands. This is the only method of preventing false dividends being declared, and the interests intrusted to them from being subverted to their own personal and selfish ends. Under the pNsent arrangement, the public, including the .hareholders, are studiously kept in the dark as to the state Q! the affairs of railroad conj &Diu, and hen ce when the . crash and crisis ';omes which the dishonesty ' and mismanage ent of the dlrectorl have brought about, t a latter are in a positien te lee d&nger first, and by concealing it dispose of their shares, and leave the unsuspecting stockholders and creditors to be overwhelmed by the ruin. Just so long as stockholders allow the affairs of railroad companies to be under the unrestricted control of a dozen sharp and selfish directors will the evils which clog their m&nagement exist. We believe with a cotemporary that incompetency and dishenesty constitute the bane of our railroad system. Its whole management is essentially vicious and corrupt. A few large fish, having thousands of small ones in their power, as a matter of course devour them. We are sorry to feel compelled to send abroad a statement like this, but the sooner foreign capitalists learn that there is neither safety nor honesty in the general management of the railroads of this country, the better it will be for them. There are, we are happy to say, good exceptions to these severe charges, but they, are few.
This article was originally published with the title "Railroads—Their Management and Mismanagement"