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take a Judge and jury, with a Court stenographer, several days, or possibly a week, or longer, to take the testimony and conclude the trial of a case. Now, when the stenographer's notes are written out, the members of the Pardon Board are expected to sit down and read the transcript over carefully, and then read over the new evidence by way of affidavits, and the petitions and letters. Now, this is only one case, gentlemen, and they have had referred to them since April, 1912, 253 cases. Of course, all the cases do not require as much work. But if you are going to have a Pardon Board, let us have a respectable salary attached to it, so as to place it upon a dignified plane, at least.
I have been the recipient of a great deal of abuse and the object of a great deal of harsh language about pardons. Upwards of seventy-five thousand white voters of South Carolina, however, said they endorsed my course. But, gentlemen, there has been a great deal of hard work and worry in it all, and there has been no pleasure in it, except in seeing the poor fellows free—there is a wonderful pleasure in that. Many cases have been brought before me in which I had to refuse clemency, and, with all that has been said about meif you will pardon a personal reference—sometimes I have gone to the window and turned my back to my office and looked up the street when the mother and little children were pleading, and when I knew my duty, and that I had to say "no." It is a serious duty and a grave responsibility, and I am satisfied there will never be a true inan Governor for any length of time who would not welcome relief from some of the responsibility. Of this, however, I treat more fully in a message to the Senate, transmitting my reasons for pardons, and I shall not enlarge upon it here. But I want to impress upon you that if you are going to have a Pardon Board, you should pay the members a sufficient salary that they may give their time and attention to it. The members of the present board, to my own knowledge, have made personal and financial sacrifices to do the work I have placed in their hands within the last year; yet they, too, have been abused for recommending clemency in certain cases, when they were performing only a patriotic duty, for all men know they were certainly not performing a duty which paid them, financially or otherwise—the only hope of reward which they can expect is that which the God of Justice and of Mercy will give them for paying careful attention to the cries of the widow and the oppressed, and for listening to "the least of these."
TRUSTS AND COMBINATIONS.
I desire, gentlemen, to call to your attention once again the cotton mill mergers of this State, and ask that you take some definite action in regard thereto, and I respectfully refer you to my message upon this subject, House Journal, 1912, page 148; Senate Journal, 1912, page 155. My predictions therein are already being fulfilled. In the recent primary election men were threatened and attempts were made by the heads of these mill mergers to intimidate them; and I am reliably informed that, since the election, men have been dismissed from their jobs because they did not vote to suit the "bosses." The matter is for you—to use a somewhat inelegant, but forcible expression, it is "up to you.” It is not impossible that some day, unless action is taken, even some of you may be the sufferers, and then no doubt you would wish that action had been taken.
I desire to call your attention also to other trusts and combinations, particularly the Carolina Public Service Corporation, that is buying all the ice plants throughout this State. This is a violation of the law. These ice plants are being bought simply and solely for the purpose of creating a monopoly; shutting out all the independent plants; raising the price of ice to whatever figure they desire to put it, and saying to the people, sick or well, "Pay this or do without."
I thought the Attorney General would take some action in regard to these matters, under the law, but nothing has been done, and I now call upon you to take some steps before these corporations have so far stuck their fangs into the people that it will be impossible to get them out.
See Section 13, Article 9, Constitution of South Carolina, 1895.
I desire to call your attention to the evil of any town, city, county or State giving any exclusive rights, privileges, or franchises to any corporation or individual. We see the pernicious effects of this now: When a town or city places her water system, light system, street car system, telephone or telegraph system in the hands of one corporation, under an exclusive franchise, the result often is, that if you are without water you can not force them to hurry repairs and you cannot get it elsewhere; if you are without light the same is true; if the telephone company or telegraph company gives you poor service and you make complaint you are ignored,
because you have nowhere else to go, and you are bound by their special privileges. When any town or city places herself under one system of public service, to the exclusion of others, after the experience of towns and cities all over the country, it deserves to have poor public service facilities. I respectfully recommend that you pass an Act annulling all exclusive franchises heretofore granted in South Carolina, and forbidding any exclusive franchises in the future. The towns and cities belong to the State; the town government or the city government is but a subdivision of the general State government; the people of the towns and cities are citizens of the State, and if the town council or city council will not protect its citizens, then it is your duty to step in and protect them. If you do not think I am right on this matter, I simply refer you to some town or city where one corporation or one individual controls the lighting plant or the water plant, or both; or where one system controls the telephone or telegraph lines, or both; or where one system controls the street car lines or other quasi public enterprise or public service system; or where one corporation or individual has an exclusive franchise of all these things.
I noted a most ridiculous occurrence before the Railroad Commission recently in a telephone hearing. The people's side of the case was represented, or supposed to be represented, by an attorney who is a leading counsel for the Western Union Telegraph Company, when everybody knows that the Western Union Telegraph Company and the Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company are one and the same corporation, or one controlled and owned by the other, operating as such, interdependently. Still. the Railroad Commission, I presume, knew what it was doing. I leave it to the people of that particular town as to whether they got any relief or not.
TAX ON WATER POWERS.
I respectfully recommend that you pass an Act requiring all corporations in this State that are using the water power of the State to pay a tax or license therefor. Dams have been built and are being built across nearly all of the streams of South Carolina that have any water power that can be profitably utilized. This water power belongs to the people of the State. It is being harnessed, so to speak, and used to run machinery for a few corporations which are making millions of dollars out of it, and the people of the State--the taxpayers--are not receiving one dollar's benefit
therefrom. Other countries tax companies or individuals for the use of their water powers, and there is no good reason why South Carolina should not do so, and every reason why she should. It would be a source of much revenue to us; it would not hurt those who are using this power; and it would be but fairness and justice to all concerned. I, therefore, most earnestly urge you to place this tax or license upon each and every one of the individuals or corporations that are using these water powers in generating electricity, running machinery, or otherwise—not to be harsh upon them, but to be fair to the general taxpayers. These corporations are ruining our rivers—absolutely destroying them forever, so far as navigation is concerned; injuring the lands below the dams by almost actually drying up the rivers in some places; receiving large returns therefrom, and not paying one cent for the use of that vater power. It is not right, and it is your duty to correct it.
I am reliably informed that the powerful, gigantic dam, which is now being constructed across Broad River at Parr Shoals, is not to be provided with a draw. This should be required, because the United States Government is now spending money to make Broad River navigable, and a great fight is being carried on to complete the Columbia Canal, and if these things should be accomplished, this Parr Shoals dam would forever stand as a menace and hindrance to the use of this river. Now, while the dam is in its infancy, the parties controlling its construction should be inade to change their plans so as to provide such draw. I am also informed that there is no provision made by which the fish from the low-country streams, or even from the ocean, can go north of this dam, thus depriving the people north of the dam, in the upper part of Carolina, from the benefits of fishing in the stream -vhich they otherwise would have as a result of the migration of Ssh from the ocean and low-country waters.
I can but call these matters to your attention, gentlemen. It is for you the mighty corporations to control
RATE OF INTEREST.
I respectfully recommend that you pass an Act reducing the legal rate of interest in this State to six per cent. There would be a good deal of complaint about this, possibly. But when you place your money in a savings bank you only receive four per cent. Bankers boast of the fact that they can borrow money in the North at two and one-half and three per cent. If they can borrow it at
two and one-half and three per cent., most assuredly they can make money lending it at six per cent. Look at the magnificent buildings the banks are erecting—their great skyscrapers. Look at the immense dividends they are declaring. They vie with each other in displaying in large letters in the newspapers the amount of dividends they are paying, and herald to the world that they are making money and prospering. We are all glad to note this prosperity, but, gentlemen, they should share some of it with their customers, and not keep it all within their own pockets, for, after all, it is their customers' money which is the foundation of their prosperity; and I would urge upon you the wisdom of reducing the legal rate of interest in this State from seven to six per cent.
EXCHANGE ON CHECKS.
I also recommend that you pass an Act prohibiting any pank from charging its regular customers exchange on any draft or check passing through the bank. My reason for this, gentlemen, is simple and plain. A man comes to Columbia from some other point in the State; he does some trading and gives a perfectly good check on his home bank; the merchant who accepts that check, or the hotel proprietor, or other person, carries it to his regular bank and deposits it, and the bank charges him for sending that check to the home bank and getting the money on it, when it doesn't cost that bank a cent to do so, and when that bank is getting the benefit of the deposit. They say, "Oh, but we are in the clearing house, and have to do it.” Then, gentlemen, if the clearing house is a merger of banks it is in violation of our law, and the Attorney General should take steps to break it up. But you should pass an Act stopping the banks from taking money from the pockets of the people on every little pretense and pretext. And I hope that those of you who own stock in banks, or are attorneys for banks, will let that fact be known when you argue against this proposition, so that your fellow-members may know why you are opposing it.
RETURN MONEY ON C. O. D. PACKAGES.
I also respectfully recommend that you pass an Act prohibiting express companies from charging for returning money collected on C. O. D. packages. Any of you can see the injustice of such charge by an express company. A package comes to you C. O. D.; you could send your check in payment of it; you could give the