Page 3736

3736 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.

freight, irrespective of the ownership

of the lines. The experiment proved

less successful, however, than had been

hoped. Wages were greatly increased,

and from this and other causes the cost

of operating the roads rose to unheard of

heights. Passenger and freight rates were

greatly increased, but, though the roads

did an enormous business, receipts lacked

much of meeting expenditures, and it

was necessary for the Government to

expend hundreds of millions of dollars

to meet the deficit. Thus the general

public was forced to pay out of both

pockets. Out of one they paid the increased price of passenger and freight

rates; out of the other they paid taxes

to be used in meeting the extraordinary

railroad expenses. Much opposition to

Government control speedily developed.

The seizure of the railroads was in large

measure due to an alarming shortage in

the supply of coal. Several causes contributed to this shortage. The coal production for 1917 had showed considerable

increase over 1916, but the lack of cars

made it difficult to move coal from the

sources of production to centers of consumption. Furthermore, there had been

an unfortunate complication with regard

to the price of coal, and this had contributed to keep down production. In May,

1917, a committee on coal production was

appointed by the Council of National

Defense. Conferences were held with coal

operators, and an agreement was reached

regarding fixed prices per ton at the mines.

On July I, Secretary of War Baker, Chairman of the Council of National Defense,

repudiated the agreement on the ground

that the prices were exorbitant. Two

months of delay ensued, and not until

late in August did President Wilson finally

fix prices. In the interval many consumers

delayed making purchases in the hope

that prices would be reduced; in consequence production of coal by the mines

was greatly curtailed in this period. Late

in August, Dr. Harry Garfield, President

of Williams College and a son of a former

President of the United States, was

appointed Fuel Administrator. It was then

too late to make up for lost time, nor can

it be said that Dr. Garfield handled the

situation with any great ability. Late in

September, he lowered the prices somewhat, but failed to secure very rapid

production and movement of coal.

The vast expansion of industry in the

country as a result of the war necessitated

the use of much more coal than in the

past. Furthermore, the winter of 1917-18

proved to be the most severe for generations. During much of December, January