This is fantastic: A website called History is a Weapon has made a transcript of Edwin J. Quinby’s infamous pamphlet about the streetcar conspiracy available. If you don’t know who Quinby was, I blogged about him here; if you’re interested in reading the pamphlet (which I highly recommend), click here.
Here’s a taste:
Small wonder we have been losing our valuable electric railway utilities, right and left! The cross-country Interurban electric railways have been falling prey more readily to the depredations of the bus promoters. This is chiefly because increasingly large taxes levied upon the private-rights-of-way which the Interurbans had purchased and on which the electric railway cars could safely speed without interference from vehicular traffic, have been used for the purpose of building expensive concrete public highways parallel to the railways. Upon these highways, competing buses and trucks were given franchises to operate without having to assume the same burden of taxes as the Interurbans or even the expenses of the construction and maintenance of the highways they use. As a result, the buses and trucks can and do offer services at rates ruinous to the Interurban railways. This of course constitutes subsidy on the part of the government to the inferior and dangerous type of service offered by the buses and trucks in direct competition with the Interurban railways. The railways were in effect penalized for their superior services, and the money thus taken from them was used to actually drive them out of business by cheap competition which owns little or no taxable property. Schools and other public institutions which were formerly supported in a large measure by the interurban railways through taxes are not similarly supported by the buses and trucks. These expenses must now be paid by the local taxpayers, many of whom forsook the superior services offered by the Interurban railways to patronize the cheaper facilities of the competing buses and trucks. Thus the buses and trucks have been responsible for our losing literally thousands of miles of fine high-speed Urban electric railways. Only those Interurbans remain which are doing a sufficiently large business to show some small margin of profit in spite of this discrimination and abuse.
HAS ANYTHING BEEN LEARNED FROM THIS LESSON? IF OUR ELECTRIC STREET RAILWAYS ARE ALLOWED TO BE SIMILARLY ABUSED AND DESTROYED, WHO WILL ASSUME THEIR TAX BURDEN?
YOU ARE ENTITLED TO THIS WARNING
This is to warn you as to the exact methods employed by the Oil-Rubber-Bus-combine in depriving you of your electric railway so as to clear the field for them to sell buses—and more buses. Their methods are frequently subtle, insidious, but relentless. They persevere and employ the principle that they can make anyone believe anything if it is repeated often enough, and that if it appears in PRINT, it will carry convincing force. Your newspapers will carry an increasing amount of news items ridiculing your electric railway system, criticizing its operations, claiming that it is worn out, outmoded—and that it should be scrapped to make way for “modern” buses. You will probably notice that no suggestion is made to preserve the electric railway intact so that if the buses are tried over a suitable period of time and found wanting, you may resume electric railway operations. The established method is to immediately rip up the tracks, tear down the power wires and burn up the cars as soon as the buses are placed in operation. Thus you find yourself stuck with the buses, whether you like them or not. There is then no possible chance of correcting your mistake. THIS HAS BEEN DONE REPEATEDLY TO THE DISMAY OF CITIZENS IN MANY CITIES THROUGHOUT OUR NATION.