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July 23, 1887
The Record and Guide.
THE RECORD AND GUIDE,
Published every Saturday.
191 BroadAATay, IST. "ST.
Onr TelepUoue Call ts - - - -
OIVE TEAR, in advance, SIX DOLLARS.
Communicatlong should be addressed to
C. W. SWEET, 191 Broadway.
J. T. LINDSEY, Business Manager.
JULY 23, 1887.
In afezo days tre shall publish a handsome volume of great value
to all interested in building. It ivill contain the new Building Law,
jiassed at the last session of the Legislature, the Mechanics^ Lien
Law and recent aviendmenis to the same, the Law Limiting the
Height of Dwelling Houses^ the neiv Tenement House Laio and a
complete Index, hi addition to the foregoing the volume will con-
fain a Directory of Architects in New York, Brooklyn, Jersey City,
Neivark and Yonkers. The book is handsomely and strongly bound,
and ivill be for sale at the office of The Record and Guide for 75
ce7its. Orders shoidd be sent in immediately.
Again we are promised that the long-delayed improvement of the
Harlem RiTer will soon be begun. Preliminary examinations are
now being made, and the work will soon be commeoced and con¬
tinued until the ^400,000 voted by Congress shall have been
expended. It seems the cnly difficult p>art of the work will be in
the neighborhood of Spuyten Duyvil Creek, where the soil ia very
light and muddy. We question whether tbe $400,000 will be
sufficient; but, whatever the cost, we hope the work will be pushed
to an early completion. When it is finished a mighty change will
result in the trade relations of the mejtropolis. The chief benefit of
the improvement will accrue to the annexed district.
Mayor Hewitt is right. If the Sinking Fund Commissioners
have the power they should erect a building in the Park which
would accommodate not only the Criminal Courts but all ihe
departments of the city govcrument which now are forced to rent
private property. It ought to be a structure worthy of this great
municipality. If the thing was possible it would be well to recon¬
struct the present City Hall so as to make it three or four times as
large as it is at present. Architecturally r^onsidered the present
City Hall is one of the finest buildings in the city, and it is not at
all likely that any new municipal building would be an improve¬
ment upon it.
The tendency in this country is to get rid of isolated State elec¬
tions, and to have all our political contests at one time. Great
Britain, however, keeps up the practice of isolated contests for
members of Parliament. These have proved useful, as they fur¬
nish information as to the drift of public opinion on the acts of
the government. The recent elections in England have served as
a notification to the Salisbury cabinet that the Irish Crimes bill is
distasteful to the bulk of English voters. The Unionists who
deserted Gladstone, under the leadership of Hartington and Cham¬
berlain, are also informed by these votes that their course is not
approved by the Liberals. We are tending yearly to get rid of all
save general elections, and soon there will be no popular machin¬
ery by which administrations can be informed of the liglit in
wliich their acts are regarded by the voters. The excuse for post¬
poning State elections until general elections are held was the cor¬
ruption incident to the wish of each party to get a verdict that
would affect the general elections. In times past the vote of
Pennsylvania or Ohio in October was a powerful influence in car¬
rying the general elections in November; but English voters have
the advantage over American voters, in that they can pass upon
the principal acts of the cabinet almost immediately. In this
country the Congress elected in November, 1886, does not meet
until December, 1«87, and there seems no way by which the con¬
stituencies can make their wishes known to their representatives.
did much to make Paris the splendid city it is, and who made
himself infamous in doing so. Undoubtedly the Board of Works, of
which Shephard was the brains and right hand, waa a money-spend¬
ing institution. Shephard undertook to make up in four years for the
neglect of thirty years. Congress had been neglectful and
niggardly regarding the District of Columbia, and in trying to
atone for past shortcomings Shephard spent a great deal of money,
some of it very loosely. It was an era of extravagance, due largely
to the use of paper money, and the sins of Shephard and his friends
were those of his times. But after all Washington is now a great
and beautifu' city, a state of things in great part due to ex-Gov¬
ernor Shephard, and it is no wonder that there is a revulsion of
feeling in his favor. He certainly did not profit by the money
spent in Washington, for he left it a bankrupt. But his case has
this moral: No one who works for the community must ever
expect to be rewarded by the approbation of the people benefited
until it is too late to do him any good.
The people of Washington are disposed to felicitate ex-Governor,
otherwise •*Boss" Shephard on his return from Mexico to his
native city. It is felt that injustice has been done him in the past.
Before he began his work of improvement, the capital of the
country was a elatterly, tumble-down Southern town. It was
under his auspices that it became a city worthy of the nation. He
shared the fate, however, of all improvers and reformers, and was
literally driven out of the country under a load of obloquy. His
tMfttmont was exactly the Bame bs tbat of Paron Hau8»roani whp
AU the be-t class of railroad men are pleased so far with the
operation of the Interstate Commerce Jaw, Its effect has been to
put a stop to many abuses, such as deadheadiem, which have been
a detriment to railway companies, while it has given satisfaction
to the great majority of the patrons of the roads, as discriminations
between customers are now done away with. But the Jaw is not
perfect by any means, and the next Congress will he called upon to
amend it in several iuiportant particulars. I(s most serious defect
is the impossibility of the commission settling all the irnponant
questions which have come before it. It is already far behind on
the questions submitted, and the different companies are com¬
pelled to assume the responsibility themselves, and run the risk
of heavy damages should the commission or the courts decide that
their action was unwarranted. In truih our various railway sys¬
tems are so interwoven with all the trade interests of the country,
that there are literally myriads of questions which require wise and
prompt solutions. So large is the field that there is room for the
State Commissions as well as the National Commission, and
perhaps the work might be expedited if the local questions could
first be passed upon by the local boarda,
Unfortunately all the members of the Interstate Commission are
lawyers and its president has been a judge, hence its methods are
more akin to the procrastinating procedures of courts than to the
quick decision demanded in the transaction of ordinary business.
All our courts, State and national, are constantly accumulating
arrears of business. Any new case entered into a United States
court cannot ever be considered until three 5 ears shall have elapsed.
It is inevitable that the same tardy action will characterize tbe Inter¬
state Commission, If our Congress was differently constituted
there might be some hope that the law would be amended so as to
secure prompt judgments. But a national legislature compot-ed
almost wholly of lawyers is not the kind of a body to provide
machinery for the prompt settlement of business disputes. Year
after year litigants have been striving to induce Congress to appoint
more judges in order to expedite the business of the Supreme
Court of the United States, but the appeal falls upon leaden ears,
A congregation of lawyers instinctively prefers delay to celerity.
But the next Congress will be called upon, and with reason, to
amend the Interstate Commerce Act so as to add to its efficiency.
This will precipitate the controversy between the great corpora¬
tions and the business public. The latter will be at a disadvantage
in the debate, and it is not likely that in the final settlement a
money power representing $8,000,000,000 will come in second best.
Mr. O. B. Potter publishes an article in the Civics on " govern¬
mental power, its source and limitations," in which he raises the old,
old question, *• whether our national government is one with limited
powers, sovereignty residing in the people, or are of original power
and sovereignty, the rigbts of the people springing from and being
dependent upon the national government." Mr. Potter, of course,
says ** yes" to the former clause and *• no" to the latter. He has
the old Je£fersonian idea that government is something to be
dreaded, that it is a monster to be curbed and chained, and that
that government ia best which governs least. The Anarchist
accepti the premises laid down by Thomas Jefferson and enforced
by Mr. Potter, who represents literally millions of other Americana.
But the aforesaid Anarchist reaches conclusions which the Jeffer-
sonian school naturally objects to. This school of political thought
was a natural reaction from the abuses oi governments which
existed in spite of the people, and which were imposed on them
against their will. In those good old times the machinery of
government was used for the benefit of kings nobles and priests,
and it is no wonder that the political reformers jumped to what we
see is an absurd conclusion, that the entire action of government
was harmful. The real molern Democracy says that governments
exist for the benefit of the community. They aro brought into
being by the people for the people. This involves constructive
Republicanism or Democracy, while Mr, Potter*8 positiQa fioallj'
landp him in the camp o( tlie Anarohisti