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IV. The care of the roads, again, in the rural districts, is not
very difficult. It is one of the most important
duties devolving on the authorities of the town-
ship, and demands supervision whether yearly repairs are let
out by contract or every one is made responsible for the
ways along which his own land is situated. In cities there is
need of much more of system, as to streets, sidewalks, and
the keeping of them clean ; but there are no questions of
difficulty, so far as I know, that meet us at this point except
that of taking private property for public improvements and
deducting the benefit to the proprietor from his damages.
There is however, in regard to ways of communication,
whether common highways, canals, or railroads, one very
important question  whether they may best be constructed
by private enterprise or by public. To a great extent pri-
vate enterprise has built such works in Great Britain and the
United States, owing in part to the ease with which, under
free governments, associations of capitalists are found and
can manage large affairs. In other countries the same end is
accomplished by public boards and outlays. Nor are there
wanting instances of the same construction of public roads
by the state in this country. In this way was the Erie canal
undertaken, when the success of such adventures was quite
uncertain, together with some other public works, some of
which were unsuccessful in bringing adequate returns and
ended in repudiation. Either way of construction is con-
sistent with the theory of state power. The state's right to
take land, on paying a just compensation, is transferred in one
of the cases to agents who are authorized to do its work in its
stead. But they take a risk upon them, and then it is not
wrong that they should have the tolls until the- state shall
choose to pay them the value of their enterprise. As for
permanent possession of a railroad franchise by a private
corporation, there are grave reasons for holding that the state
should not grant such a charter. For the power of such a