Winfield Daily Courier - Thursday, January 14, 1875
Tom Scott, president of the Atlantic & Pacific railroad is before congress with a bill asking aid for a railroad through to the Pacific. We hope he will get the aid. The road will probably pass throuth the Indian Territory, east and west, about ninety-five miles south of here.
We believe the bill asks congress to endorse its bonds or loan bonds to it and take the road as security for the payment of the same. We should much prefer to see land granted outright. We have never been one of thowe who howled against land grants to railroads. Had it not been for the land grant system, there would, to-day, be few if any railroads west of the Mississippi rover. The government has in the past twelve years been very prodigal of aid to railroads. The railroads have been built with great rapidity. The country has prospered under the system. Estates have been populated and cities built. Millions of acres of the public lands have been put within the reach of the husbandman that otherwise would have remained idle wastes for years. Thousands upon thaousands of laboring men were given employment in the construction, equipment and maintenance of these railroads. Because of some abuses, developed under the land grant system, a partisan cry was raised against it. The politicians in convention anxious to appease the clamor against corporations, resolved against land grants. This was but a tub for the whale. There was no sense in passing such resolutions. The people did not clamor against land grants, but against the corporate privileges given to the companies. The were so wealthy that private individuals could not prosecute them when their rights were invaded. The corporations did not respect local laws, nor foster local enterprises. They would not pay taxes nor respect freight and tariff enactments. They combined to carry such legislation in congress and the states, as gave them unreasonable privileges and mysterious powers. And because of the cry of discontent that arose from the people on account of these grievances the republican conventions, national and state made haste to denounce land grants, anticipating the same action on the part of democratic politicians. The people never did demand this policy. There is no western state where the people would gove up their railroads and accept the landsgiven them. We know this to be public sentiment. The result of a suspension of railroad building in the west is most disastrous to us. The millions of capital expended annually heretofore in their construction and in the development of the country along their lines is now idle. It is hoarded in eastern banks, invested in municipal bonds, loaned at low rotes on secured paper, or lays idle. There is no market for grain in the west, there is no demand for labor. The ominous silence that precedes a storm has settled upon the energies of the land. Men look this way and that in vain for relief. Now let congress do something. Put life into this Atlantic & Pacific road. Give it the necessary encouragement. Require the road to be built in five years, for a reasonable sum and operated at a reasonable profit. Hedge it to keep out Credit Mobilier, watered stock and forty thousand dollar salaries. Give in a land grant through the Territories. Charge a royalty upon the minerals developed along its line. Give us a chance to draw one more long breath. Lift the shadow from our threshhold.
The advantages of a Southern Pacific railway are to many to be enumerated in a newspaper article. The expensive Indian question which stretches itself across the continent in that latitude would be answered at least.
We hope the legislature will have the moral stamina, to express what every sensible man knows to be public sentiment on this one question. Kansas is immensely interested in the construction of this southern line. Let it at once ask our congressional delegation to give this enterprise a helping hand. This will enable many a befogged politician in Washington, to see his way clear. Gentlemen speak out on this matter.