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Experience then, we may say, has its stories to tell both of
roads built by the state mismanaged, and of roads built by
private corporations worse mismanaged. This consideration,
however, in a country like ours, is in favor of the construction
by private capital, that if the state build a road in one part
of its territories, there will be a claim for another in another
part, where it is less needed, and so every division of the
state must have its rights, which must be secured by combi-
nation. Thus a great debt is accumulated which the state
cannot meet, and so the most disastrous of all things to the
credit and growth of the state, the most dishonorable takes
place,—repudiation, or state bankruptcy. To prevent this
1 great evil there ought to be a limitation of the amount which
a state may borrow, or some other efficient remedy, if any is
possible. Were it not for the inconsiderate legislation, of
which we have had examples, the construction by the state
would seem to be the better way; but we are obliged to de-
cide that to commit such works into the hands of private
corporations is preferable. But there is still a third possible
plan—that the United States should build all the roads which
can serve as links of transportation from state to state, and
either lease them to companies or manage them by its own
officers. If this be within the constitutional powers of the
general government (in regard to which, as is well known,
there has always been a controversy between the advocates
of strict interpretation, or of state rights, and the advocates
of liberal construction, or of large federal power), it is still
subject to • very serious objections, the greatest of which, in
our judgment, is the tendency to accumulation of power in
congress and the executive, together with the influences, often
of a corrupting nature, which attend on having the whole
transporting power of the country in the hands of the gene-
ral government. The best plan, then, with the light of past
experience, seems to us that of having in each state a general
railroad law, under the stringent rules of which the roads
must be begun with an outlay of paid capital and with only
a limited power of borrowing, and be afterwards held to do
VOL. II.—26