No Title

February 17, 1871


The Dispatch is asking for a direct rail to Washington, and is defending its endeavors and credibility. Richmond needs a direct line to Washington if it wants to be considered a prosperous city in both Virginia and the South overall.


"Have the opponents of the charter asked for by the Richmond and Washington Railroad Company reflected on the consequence of rejecting their application? The consequence would be simply this: they would then apply for a general railroad law, and they would get it. The people cannot be baulked in this matter of railroads, free railroads, and a plenty of them." Enquirer and Examiner, Feb. 15th. Such are the terms in which this minion of a Pennsylvania corporation assumes to lecture and threaten the Legislature of our State. Give what we demand, or we will take what we please, You are at our mercy. We will apply for a general railroad law, and will "get it!" When a Legislature of Virginia, or a large number, perhaps a majority, of its members, are come to this pass-to be thus bearded and bullied by foreign railroad lobbyists and pensioners, without assuming the existence of those corrupt practices which are now matter of grave inquiry- cannot be denied that they are bowing very low before the vulgar influence of money. Whither has its ancient spirit fled-whither its dignity, its self-respect, and those of the people it is supposed to represent? Yet these adventurers have had a great deal to encourage them; for the first thing which strikes the unsophisticated mind, used to survey things from the point of view once common in Virginia, is the breach of faith involved in the scheme of the Pennsylvania party, and the active, avowed participation of its supporters in carrying it out. The Virginia company, whose destruction they openly seek, was organized on what was once deemed sacred-the faith of the State. It was honestly organized, and, as none will deny, has been always honestly conducted. To-day its own faith towards the State and all others stands as pure and unsullied as; chastity itself. It has never asked the Legislature to legalize a fraud for its benefit, The stockholders, having invested their money on the promise of the State to respect the rights thus acquired, and they having confessedly fulfilled all these correlative obligations, their property in their stock is as much under legal protection as any other property, the title to which has been granted by the State-as a tract of land, for instance. All property is subject to the sovereign right of eminent domain, and it is not denied that for sufficient public necessity or expediency, the Legislature may charter a railroad company (where it has not tied its hands by any self-imposed restrictions) to construct a rival road through the same country occupied by a previously existing improvement. But where no such necessity nor expediency is pretended to exist-where the road asked to be chartered alongside of the existing road is confessedly never to be built-where the machinery of legislation is plainly employed to depreciate-nay, destroy-the property of the stockholders in the existing company, who does not detect the palpable confusion! of might and right, or not see the point at which right and justice and good faith end, and wrong, injustice, and confiscation begin? Add to this that a valuable interest of the State itself is made the subject of this destructive experiment, and that its avowed object is to invite foreign capital within our borders-capital invited by a breach of public faith to an existing investment! If this were a time when the voice of reason and justice could be heard, instruction might be derived from the calm and dispassionate expressions of the judiciary on this subject. Deprecating the wanton and unnecessary exercise of this power to create such rival and conflicting interests, the Court of Appeals says: "Every principle of sound policy, indeed, forbids that this should be done, or that it should be done without securing some indemnity to those who suffer by such legislation!" "Flourishing towns, which have risen to wealth and importance on the faith of public law, by being made a port of entry, sink into insignificance upon the removal of their custom-houses to more favored spots. "This sport with human prosperity and happiness cannot be too much reprobated,"
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Megan Wiora




“No Title,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed February 1, 2023,