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September 20. 1884
The Record and Guide.
THE RECORD AND GUIDE.
Published every Saturday.
191 Broad-way, N. Y.
ONE WAU, in advance, SIX DOLLARH.
CommunicatiotiB should be addressed to
C. W. SWEET, 191 Broadway.
J. T. LINDSEY, Business Manager.
SEPTEMBER 20. 1884,
Tbe stock market bas been weak, and it ahowa no sigiiR of imme¬
diate recovery, Tfae assurance that a great corn crop has been
secured seems to have had no effect beyond perhaps stopping a
serious break in prices. Tfao fact is. railway earninga are small,
notwithstanding the large amount of wheat which is being carried
and it is not likely that the companies will average as good a busi!
ness as last year until the corn begins to move in quantities, which
will not be before December. In the meantime it looks as if wo
will have a dull, but reasonably strong, market. The savings of
the community promise to go into real estate this fall and winter,
as all securities from railways to those of banks and other corpora¬
tions are looked upon with suspicion.
The corn crop is at last out of danger; a frost now would not
injure more than 50,000,000 bushels, which is a small percentage
of a crop which may reach 1,900,000,000 bushels. " Sir Oracle " last
spring ventured to predict that thia summer's corn crop would be
a very large oue. He argued that the high price of com for three
yeara paat, its exceptional value as compared with wheat for cattle
feeding, would lead to an immense area of ground being planted in
that cereal. Aa we have had partial failures of the corn crop since
1881, he thought that on- the doctrine of averages this year the
weather conditions would be favorable. Hence, he believed that
a good season would result in acorncrop of over two billion bushels.
Tbe agricultural bureau, however, places the total somewhat lower,
but then the corn of this summer is exceptionally good. There
were never finer ears grown, and measured by quality a crop of
1,900,000,000 bushels ia more valuable than a very much larger crop
in quantity. The country is to be congratulated upon the vast
addition to its wealth which thia great corn crop insures.
The political canvass drags its slow length along. So far it has
been a campaign of personal assaults of the lowest kind. Our polit¬
ical journals are really unreadable, and wise parents would do well
to keep them away from their children. Some time since The Rec¬
ord AND Guide tried to start an agitation for holdmg a national
convention to revise the constitution of the United States. If no
other good would come of it we argued that it would purify and
ennoble political discussions in this country. If our public men and
the press were earnestly engaged in discussing the fundamental
principles which lie at the foundation of our government they
would have no time or heart to canvass the private liven or morals
of opposing candidates. Tbe contemplation of great themes
[elevates the mental horizon of the citizens of free repub-
ilicp, but personal politics are always degrading. Better a
foreign war or a great national peril than peace and plenty with
i people's passions stirred by details of the private corruption of
; their eminent men or the dishonor of their publfc life.
I Mr. Henry Villard unbosoms himself in a letter to the stock¬
holders of tho Northern Pacific Road. He makes a very good
jdefense for himself. He w^as deceived, it seems, by his engineers.
|They said that $30,000,000 would be sufficient to complete the
iNorthern Pacific Road. It took nearly $40,000,000. The Northern
Pacific was frequently on the verge of bankruptcy, because the
igovornment failed to issue patents for the lands when money was
most needed. The West Shore engineers, it will be remembered,
made even greater mistakes in their estimates than did the North¬
ern Pacific engineers. Such errors are inexcusable, and the engi¬
neers who make them should be put on a black list to warn all
railway promoters not to engage them. An under-estimate of 10
or 15 percent, might be explainable, but when the cost is double
ind treble the original estimate the engineer making the mistake
cannot be too sternly condemned.
Chicago is growing so fast that the tenement house, such as is
known in its worst forms here East, is beginning to make its
ippearance. That city, fortunately, can grow in any direction but
>ne. It is the greatest railway centre in the country, and hence
leretofore there baa been plenty of cheap land on which to build
iwttagea for the wprking classes, put the saipf impulse which
attracts the well-to-do into hotels and apartment houses bas created
a demand for tenements for tbe poor, where they can herd with
their fellows. This has caused some alarm among benevolent and
public-apirited Chicago capitalists, and they are moving in the
matter to prevent a duplication of our poorer and viler tenements
in tho capital of the Northwest. It is proposed to build the right
kind of houses and offer the apartments at rents so low that there
will be no demand for tenements of the meaner sort. The Impulse
which actuates these Chicago capitalists is a good one, but there
should be no codling of the poor—no giving them gratuities to
leseen their self-reapect. The leading citizens of Chicago should
see to it that there is a wise building law enacted which will force
house builders to put up structures affording proper light and air
to tenants and guarding them against the evils of infection from
defective plumbing. Then the working people should be encour¬
aged to purchase tbeir own cottages, for there is an abundance of
land south, west and north of Chicago suitable for homes for the
working classes. The magnificent railway systems of that city can
supply all the accommodations needed even were Chicago ten timea
ita present aize.
A Few Significant Facts.
Rufua Hatch haa a good head, but in business matters he is apt
to be " too previoua." His talks ia the newspapers are interesting
reading but the facts he sets forth are not seldom wrongly inter¬
preted. In a recent conversation he draws a comparison between
lb73 and 1884, to show how much better off we are now than
eleven years ago. Then our population was not more than 39,000,-
000; it is now 57,000,000. In 1873 onr wheat crop, the largest raised
up to that time, was 281,000,000 bushels; that of 1884 may reach
620,000,000. The corn crop of that year was 933,000,000 bushels,
while the lowest estimate of the crop of this year is 1,800,000,000.
Our oat crop was then 280,000,000 bushels, while this year it may
reach 600,000,000 bushels. During the past nine vreeks we have
exported 18,000,000 bushels of wheat, against 11,000,000 bushels
last year. The total railroad mileage in the United States in 1878
was less than 70,000 miles ; to-day it is fully 122,000 miles. The.
increase in the business of the country is shown by the traasactions
of the Western Union Telegraph Company. In 1873 it had 154,000
miles of wire; in 1883 it had 433,000 miles of wire. The groas
earnings in 1878 were $9,300,000 per annum ; in 18S3 they were
$19,400,000. Tha number of messages had increased in the aame
time from 14,400,000 to 41,000,000. In the meantime rates had
been reduced from 64 cents to 38 cents per message. In 1873 a
message from New York to Chicago cost $2.50 for ten words ; to-day
twenty words can be sent for 35 cents.
Mr. Hatch f urtheir calls attention to the significance of the growth
of Chicago, Kansas City, and he might have added New York, as
well as other cities, w^ithin these ten years. The anthracite coal
trade has added one-third to its production, while petroleum has
increased from 188,000,000 gallons to 506,000,000 gallons. In the
meantime our national debt has decreased, ll was $3,163,000,000
in 1874 ; itis now only $1,498,000,000. Then our debt was held very
largely abroad ; nine-tentha of it is now owned by our own people.
From these and kindred facts Mr, Hatch very sensibly concludes
that the average business man should take a hopeful view of the
future. There has, he thinks, been an over-production of manufact¬
ured articles, but he infers that this will regulate itself, and the con¬
suming community will soon be in a condition to absorb all that is
manufactured. But on one point Mr. Hatch is curiously illogical.
In his letter he says : "Wall street has had its shrinkage, and it is
time to stop predicting ruin and hard times with the panic of 1873
as a text. Real estate may decline in value, and in all probability
it will, for with the increase of w^ealth will come the desire to
invest money where it will net 4 per cent, per annum. With
government bonds netting less than 3 per cent, it ia natural to sup¬
pose that the time must aoon come when real estate will no longer
net 6 per cent, and over,"
This is very perverse leasoning. Clearly, if the population and
the wealth of the country is increasing, land, which is a fixed
quantity, muat rise in value. There are special causes at work
which are lowering the price of realty in Great Britain, but as we
are adding over two million to our population every year, and
there is in addition a steady increase ia our wealth, land must
become more and more in demand. It is just posaible, that after
the present cycle of speculation is complete, there may be a tem¬
porary depression in real estate, more especially in the speculative
districts near large cities, but there can be no serious set-back in
values in city property on the line of improvement or in farms
which pay a good interest on growing crops. Mr. Hatch is all
wrong about real estate ; that kind of property has a better future
than any other commodity dealt in by speculators or investors.
A contemporary real estate journal urges tbe widening of sundry
of our down-town streets, and euggests that it be done by piece¬
meal ; that all new ptnictures should be set back five feet or more