The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 58, July 1954 - April, 1955 Page: 423
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Jay Gould and the Railroad Commission of Texas 423
first message to the Legislature in 1876 that a regulatory body
modeled after the Massachusetts board be created.3 Other issues
seemed of greater importance to this and succeeding Legislatures,
however, and it was not until 1881 that the first serious attempt
was made, by the friends of the commission idea, to form a reg-
ulatory agency. A House bill was introduced, substituting for
nine others previously referred to the Committee on Internal
Improvements, calling for an appointive three member "Com-
mission of Railroads and Telegraphs" with authoritative power
to set rates within limits established by the Legislature.4 Oppo-
nents of the commission concept were alarmed at the apparent
rising sentiment in favor of such a body.
At this critical time Jay Gould, accompanied by officials of the
Western Union Telegraph Company whose holding would also
have been regulated by the proposed commission, made an inspec-
tion tour of railroad and telegraph properties in Texas. Inter-
viewed by a Galveston News reporter, Gould was asked his opinion
concerning prospective business growth and the extension of the
Texas railroad system. His reply may well have been interpreted
as a direct attack on the pending commission legislation, for he
implied that the future was bright unless there was "injudicious
interference by Congresses and State Legislatures with business.
The peril is in legislation. This is the danger always."" Not
less subtle was his order that work on the extension of the Mis-
souri, Kansas, and Texas between Fort Worth and Waco be halted
until a decision on the commission bill was made.8 The commis-
sion bill was defeated, as were other legislative proposals between
1881 and 1887.
Again in 1887 agitation for the creation of a railroad commis-
sion intensified. Again Jay Gould made an inspection tour of his
Texas properties. Again the commission bill was defeated. Fol-
lowers of the commission plan were gaining in strength, however,
3Journal of the House of Representatives of the State of Texas, Fifteenth Legis-
lature (Galveston, 1876), 2o.
4Journal of the House of Representatives of the State of Texas, Seventeenth Leg-
islature (Galveston, 1881), 1g8. Details of the bill are reported in the Galveston
News, February 2o, 1881.
5Galveston News, March 8, 1881.
8Charles S. Potts, Railroad Transportation in Texas (Austin, 1gog), 118.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 58, July 1954 - April, 1955, periodical, 1955; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101158/m1/492/: accessed July 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.