William Richards Castle William Roscoe Thayer.

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lege as a place to obtain a liberal education.

The time was ripe for the measure, and calm reason held sway where
feelings and emotions had before been too much in evidence. The general
sentiment among the Alumni both in the East and the West seems to be
that the action of the Governing Boards can result only advantageously
to the University.


(Thomas Mott Osbobnb, '84.)

REV. S. A ELIOT, '84.

What is the use of waiting until a classmate is dead to say of him pub-
licly that he is a man of unusual vision and fortitude ? When a Harvard
man does a great public service at peril of his life and reputation, shall
we not acclaim him now and not wait to send a laurel wreath to his funeral ?
Thomas Mott Osborne, of the Class of '84, has come conspicuously into
public notice during the last year or two because of his adventures '^ Be-

Digitized by


482 An Exponent of the Haroard Spirit. [March,

hind Prison Walk " and because of his enlightened endeavors to refonn
the prison system of his native State. He has, however, behind him, a
long record of equally honorable and constmctive, thoagh less spectacular,
public service.

Osborne comes of Abolitionist stock and is of Qaaker descent Ifis for-
bears were people not afraid of being in a minority. He belongs in the consid-
erable company of Harvard men who make it a part of their ordinary duty
to lend a hand in public affairs. To name oidy his own College contempo-
raries, untimely dead, he belongs with such efficient promoters of public
good as WUUam £. Russell, 77, Sherman Hoar, '82, and WiUiam H. Bald-
win, Jr., '85, men who inherited traditions of family honor and who
acquired at Harvard the power to think independentiy, to imagine vividly,
and to will nobly. These men, and many of their comrades who are still
living, have proved that good inheritances and a sound education are not
obstacles to public usefulness in a democracy. Some of these men are
Republicans and some are Democrats, but all are men who believe in the
principles on which our republic is founded and in the fundamental good
sense of their f eilow-cttisens. They are men who hate boss rule, the spoils
system, the arts of the demagogue, and all the evils of special privilege.
They are men who can be relied upon to stand firm for what they think
is right and to keep the rudder true whether the wind of popular preju-
dice be adverse or favorable.

Osborne was bom and brought up in Auburn, N.Y. His father, David
M. Osborne, by foresight, industry, and integrity built up the great busi-
ness of the Osborne Harvester Company and was the Mayor of the city
which his business enterprise had helped to develop. The son went to
Adams Academy in Quincy, and then to Harvard, where he got a good
grip on the ideals of life that are transmitted from generation to generar
tion in that atmosphere. There he got hold of the idea that opportunity
creates obligation and that college-bred men have a duty to pei*form in
the promotion of civic righteousness. A friendly spirit and a kindly humor,
a large fund of information derived from reading and travel, a reasonable
capacity for athletics, an exceptional musical taste and ability, combined
with a character that every one respected to make hiin popular in the best
sense of that word, and these qualities have stood him in good stead in
later life.

After graduation he plunged into business, and the death of his father
almost immediately threw upon him great responsibilities. It seemed as
if the business of D. M. Osborne & Company could not go on wiUiout its
directing head. A meeting of the stockholders declared in favor of closing
the mills and taking down the sign over the office door, but young Osborne
said, *' No, I will not take down that sign. This business is going on."

Digitized by


1916.] An Exponent of the Harvard Spirit.

He assumed the presidency of the Company, and for sixteen years con-
ducted it with ability and success.

Osborne came back to his native city just when the Blaine-Cleveland
campaign was absorbing public attention. Though of the strongest Re-
publican inheritances and bred in the auti-«lavery traditions, he could not
bring himself to support Mr. Blaine and he cast for Mr. Cleveland his first
vote at a Presidential election. Finding himself more and more allied by
conviction and principle to the Democratic party he became increasingly
active and influential in its councils. Auburn chose him to be president
of its Board of Education and he rendered valuable service in that capac-
ity but Auburn, like every other community in which one party has had
long and undisputed control, was ring-ruled. The city charter was anti-
quated and the prevailing methods of administration were shiftless, if
not corrupt. Osborne assailed these traditions and customs with good-
natured sarcasm and with candid timthtelling. After an exciting cam-
paign he was elected Mayor on a non-partisan ticket, — - the first Demo-
crat ever elected in the banner Republican stronghold of the State. He
proved an unexpectedly good campaigner, but his success was due to his
personal popularity and the confidence of the people who had known him
from boyhood and believed in his sincerity and ability.

The circle of his public influence constantly widened. He was able to
make a favorable sale of his business interests and proceeded to devote
himself, with complete disinterestedness, to various forms of public serv-
ice. He became much absorbed in the motive, principle, and the work of the
George Junior Republic in the neighboring village of Freeville. For a
long time he was the president of the Board of Trustees and among the
*' citizens " of that Republic he was the much beloved ^* Uncle Tom."
Then he served by appointment on the Public Service Commission of the
State, a post requiring much hard work and not a little political back-
bone. He early found himself one of a gi*oup of sound money Democrats
unable to follow the party banner into either the eccentricities of the free
silver agitation or into the dark and devious ways of a Tammany admin^
istration. The hostility shown him within the last months by the political
bosses of both parties in New York is no new thing. They early dis-
covered that he was a dangerous man for their business. He carried
about with him too much moral dynamite. It was Osborne who rallied
the *' Honor Democrats *' to the support of Grovemor Hughes when Tam-
many was running William R. Hearst for Governor and for a number of
years he was the head of the section of the Democratic party which stood
for real democracy and pure government.

Through these busy years Osbonie maintained happy social relations
with a wide circle of friends, old college mates, musicians and artists.

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434 An Exponent of the Harvard Spirit. [March,

boys out of the Refonnatory, discharged convicts, capitalists and social-
ists, finding them all equally interesting. He has ever been the appre-
ciative lover of good books and fine mosic. At his office desk he was and
is the alert, resourcefol man of affairs. On the platform he is a plain-
speaking man, attractive in bearing and appearance, good-tempered, lucid
in argument, trustful of the good sense and right purpose of ordinary
people. He hits hard but never unfairly. He never poses and never trims.
People know that there is no envy or malice in his attack upon ancient
abuses and machine methods and that he has nothing personal to gain.
He is evidently a man of education, bom to refinement, and with every
luxury within reach, who yet chooses a life of arduous human service and
is ready to pay the price in whatever hardship or calumny may come his

Osborne*8 interest in prison reform began in his work at the George
Junior Republic. Working and playing with the boys at Freeville he
found that youngsters supposed to have ineradicable criminal tendencies
were just ordinary boys with as much good as evil in their composition.
The problems he worked over at Freeville led right to the doors of the
State Reform Schools and the Prisons. Then came his experience as a
volunteer prisoner behind the walls of the prison at Auburn, which he so
graphically described in a book which has had a deservedly wide circula-
tion. This experience in turn led to his appointment to the Wardenship
of one of the worst prisons in the United States. No man could have
tackled a harder job than the administration of Sing Sing Prison. There
Osborne has put into successful practice certain principles of prison re-
form which he believes in. In doing so he has inevitably incurred the
opposition of the petty office-holders and the grafters of all kinds who
have hitherto fattened on the careless or corrupt administration of prison
affairs. He has aroused the antagonism of powerful interests. Like most
practical idealists he is now called upon to face not only criticism and
ridicule but base insinuations and unscrupulous attacks upon his charac-
ter and purpose. He has to contend with the familiar conspiracy of map
chine politicians, corrupt contractors, and bribable convicts. These things
are only incidents in the career of a reformer, but they are mighty dis-
agreeable incidents and a high-minded man is none the worse at such
times for the outspoken sympathy and support of men and women who
recognize his self-forgetting zeal, his courage, and the great importance
of the work he is trying to do.

There is nothing especially novel in Osborne's ideas about prison ad'
ministration. He has, however, succeeded in focussing public attention
upon an exceedingly serious and long-neglected problem of our social
oi'der. He is making our people understand that prison reform is a busi-

Digitized by


1916.] The Hill Professorship of Transportation. 435

nes8 proposition, that oar present methods of dealing with crime are a
failure, and that we have got to change hoth oar theory and practice.
Osborne is no sentimentalist. He demands that the way of the transgres-
sor shall be hard, but he insists that we mast treat convicts in such a
way that they shall either be cared or kept under such continual restraint
as shall guarantee to society safety from f urtlier depredations. The prac-
tical question he raises is whether men committed to prison are going to
come out eager for new crimes or prepared to go straight ; ready and able
to support themselves by honest work or obliged to prey on society for a
living. Are their bodies to be upbuilt, their hands given skill, their minds
quickened, tlieir ambitions aroused, or are they to be left to rot and to
plot schemes of revenge when their punishment is over ?

Osborne insists that every offender ought to have a prompt and speedy
trial ; that our jails should cease to be nurseries of crime ; that prisoners
should be classified and graded. He insists that industiial training should
be made the basis of reformatory methods. To teach a convict a trade
is to make him master of the art of self-sapport He recognizes that many
cnminal impulses are due to physical causes, so he believes in healtliy
exercise. He understands that it is only through a reasonable degree of
freedom and self-government that a man can learn to live in freedom.
Osborne preaches the doctrine of the indeterminate sentence. We do not
send an insane man to the hospital for thirty days or six months, but
until he is cured and fit to take his place again in society. Osborne de-
mands that our prisons shall be managed so as to develop the germs of
good that lire still lying in the convict's nature and not so as to com-
municate the poison of evil until all are dragged down to the level of the
worst. He has confidence in human nature and has the courage to act on
that belief.

Harvard men will venture to believe that Osborne's character and
career are typical of the spirit of their University.



At the commencement exercises of Harvard University on June 24,
1915, President Lowell said :

The Urgest singrle g^i^t in money that the Univenity has received dnring the year is
dated June 21. It is that of 9125,000, to endow a profeeaorahip of transportation in
the School of Bnsiness Administration, subscribed by friends of the School and ad-
mirers of James J. Hill, in whose honor it is founded and named. The Chair marks
an epoch in the life of the School, and by its recognition of transportation as a perma-
nent object of syatematie instruction, in the life of the nation also. It is eminently fitting

Digitized by


486 The Hill Frqfessorship of Tranfportation. [March,

that Bxuih a pro foos o rs hip siMNild bear the name of Mr. Hill, who has ap|>Ued aeieotifio
principles to the oonstmotion and operation of railroads to an extent, and with an ao-
onraey unknown before. He is, perhaps, best known to the public at large by haying
aroused the nation to the need of conserring its natural resonroes, but this was the
fmit of a long actiTO career in dereloptng the vast country between the Great Lakes
,and Pnget Sound, and enabling it to prosper. He had the imagination tooonoeive and
the skill to execute a plan of transportation on a vast scale.

Seventy-four friends of Mr. Hill contributed to the fond. There were
thirteen presidents of railways, twenty-four bankers, thirty-seven heads
of industrial corporations, business men, and lawyers. They represented
a large part of the United States — Boston, New York, and Philadelphia
in the East ; Baltimore, Washington, and St Louis in the South ; Chi-
cago, St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Duluth in the Middle West ; and North
Dakota, Montana, Washington, and Oregon in the Northwest.

The appreciation of the plan and the desire to honor Mr. Hill was
nation-wide. One subscription, and a generous one too, was by a woman,
and was evidence of the loyalty of Mr. Hill's friends. This was the sub-
scription of Mrs. W. H. Dunwoody, of Minneapolis. Mr. Danwoody was
a long-time associate of Mr. Hill and a leading figure in the wheat and
flour business which mean so much to the Northwest. His widow, when
she heard of the plan, asked to be allowed to subscribe in order to show
her appreciation of Mr. Hill's work in developing the Northwest, work in
which her husband had no small part

The endowment of this professorship is a tribute to Mr. Hill, to his
genius as a railway builder, as an operating executive, as a developer of
his country and its business interests, and as a financier. He has caused
the railways in which he has been the master mind to be so skilfully
financed, as well as to be so efficiently constructed, developed, and oper^
ated, that, considered as a whole, they are among the most successful in
the world.

Not only is this tribute to Mr. Hill well deserved, but the establish-
ment of the professorship itself is an encouraging sign that the country is
awakening to the present serious condition of its transportation agencies.
Never was there in any country such need of a thorough and impartial
study and exposition of transportation problems as there is in the United
States at the present time.

Today, the total volume of business in the United States is so great that
in various parts of the country the transportation facilities are inadequate
and development is checked. It will take much time, money, and brains
to adjust the railways to the present and future needs of the country.
This, too, in a time of peace, and if, by chance, there should be the added
burden of moving troops and supplies incident to a war, the railways
would not, in their present condition, be able to carry tlie total load.

Digitized by


In whoM honor the new Profeaaorahip of Transportation in the BuaineM School is named.

Digitized by


Digitized by


1916.] !I%e Hill Professorship of Transportation. 4S7

The railways of the cotintTy have 37 per cent of the total mileage of
the globe. Whether viewed from this standpoint, or that of the public
and the property they move, the investment they represent, the namber
of men they employ, or their relative position in industry, the railways of
the United States are very much the most important in the world.

To train men so that they can increase the service or output of these
railroads in the interest of the public, to eliminate waste, to utilize all by-
products in the manufacture of transportation, and to keep down costs to
the lowest point consistent with furnishing good transpoi'tation, and, at
the same time, to maintain the plant and to pay such returns on the capital
already invested that new money for additions may be obtained, are
national tasks. Adequate and well-managed railways have a very direct
bearing on the cost of living, the growth of the country, protection in time
of war, and on the welfare of posterity.

The most intelligent unit of railroad expense is cost per train mile, be-
cause all money paid out for any purpose, from fuel and maintenance of
track to a lawyer's fee or a doctor's bill, must be reflected there. The
proper unit to measure income is the amount of receipts per ton and pas-
senger mile, because this includes the greater part of all revenue from
operating the railroad. The logic of successful railroading, therefore, con-
sists in getting the greatest number of ton and passenger miles for the
smallest number of train miles* This is a statement simple in form ; but
it will not be realized without a profound study of the history, finances,
conditions, and methods of different systems. Such study must begin with
the number of tons and passengers carried one mile, which is the measure
of the service rendered to the public or the transportation manufactured
and sold by the railway plant

In most forms of business the average cost of some unit is determined
as closely as conditions will permit Tlien, the selling price of the article
being given, the possible profit or loss appears at once. To arrive at abso-
lute unit costs for carrying a passenger or a ton of freight one mile is
difficult beeause of the complication of the accounts and the large items
of expense that are common to both freight and passenger business. Com-
parative costs, however, can be determined, and are of great value
in pointing out errors in construction and defects in operating methods
which result in losses and waste and which, in many cases, can be cor-

On page 438 is given a table of the results for five months ending No-
vember 30, 1915, on a number of Western railroads, where the methods
of careful analysis and of adjusting the plant to conditions have been
followed for varying periods of time. No two railroads are exactly alike,
but an investigation of some of these figures will be instructive to the
student of operating methods.

Digitized by



The Hill Professorship of Transportation. [March,

NOTKM BEB 80, 1M5.





Nor. Pat.






























$48,332460 $47,466,068




































• T«ar anding Jim* 80, 1916.

The Great Northeni and Northern Pacific operate under somewliat
similar conditions. The Northern Pacific is the older road, and its lines
were not, in all cases, fitted to the country as economically as those of the
Great Northern. It did not adopt careful analytical methods and train its
men as early as did the Great Northern. The result of these methods,
however, is shown in the small proportion of gross earnings used for con-
ducting transportation — only 23.31 per cent for the Great Northern and
25.38 per cent for the Northern Pacific.

The Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, and the Chicago & Northwestern
occupy much the same territory and are among the hest and most suc-
cessful of the so-called ^' Granger " roads. The Chicago, Burlington &
Quincy hegan some ten years ago to try and adjust it^ facilities to its
business and to adopt the closest kind of analytical methods. More re-
cently the Chicago & Northwestern has done the same. The amount of

Digitized by


1916.] The HUl Professorship of Transportation. 439

operating revenue used for condacting transportation is 28.09 per cent
for the Chicago, Barlington & Quiucy, and 33 per cent for the Chicago
& Northwestern, and part of this difference is due to the adoption of
cost accounting, the adjustment of facilities, and the training of men
from station agent to general manager.

Another pair of roads that have some characteristics in common are
the Union Pacific and the Atchison, Topeka & Santa *F^ ; both occupy
territory between the Missouri River and the Pacific Coast, and both
are successful, well-managed, and fine railway systems. Tiie Union Pa-
ci6c went far in the direction of advanced methods, and part of its ex-
tremely good showing in transportation cost is due to the work done
along those lines. It is interesting to note the variations in gross and net
earnings and how the careful adjustment of facilities to business and the
training of men to use them affects the results.

These systems have been taken for the purposes of comparative illus-
tration because all of them are highly and deservedly respected. But the
figures show such wide discrepancies that any study which will lead to
intelligent or helpful results must go below the surface. The function of
such operating statistics is to lay bare all of the causes for these differ-
ences, so that a general manager or a superintendent may not on one
hand be unjustly criticized because of the effect of factors beyond his
control, or, on the other hand, be allowed to relax in effort if these fac-
tors favorably influence his operating results. It is such investigation,
going down into minute details and seeking the ultimate causes reflected
in financial statements, that should be inspired and directed by the insti-uc-
tors in a department of a g^eat university that has added this subject to
its curriculum.

Differences even greater than these frequently appear in the financial
sheets of railroad systems as between different divisions of the same line.
Statistics show that it may cost more than ten times as much to operate
on some divisions as on others. Differences in grrade and motive power,
in coal, differences in the character of the business, and, above all, differ-
ences in the volume of the business, may cause the indicator of operating
cost to vary widely and irregularly. Or, again, the differences may be
due to methods that can be improved easily. Division records should be
compared with themselves for different weeks, months and years, for con-
Unual checking of work done, cost, and receipts is necessary to keep the
railroad machine in proper working order. The fact is that not only are
these variations little understood by the public, but they are far from
being appreciated by railroad men themselves ; even by those who have
grown old in the business, with records of fair success behind them.

There is no general liard-«nd-f ast rule to explain the same phenomenon

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I%e Hill Professorship of Tranxfortaiion. [March,

when it occars in different fields, or to solve the innumerable problems
arising in the same field. Above almost all other businesses, railroading
requires the inductive method. Its laws grow out of its facts ; and those
facts must be eonstantlj studied, compared, and analyzed in order to ob-
tain from them the right suggestion for changes of method to fit changes of
conditions. Nor is a conclusion once reached invariable; because the
business is alwajrs changing, and the struggle to serve the public well

Online LibraryWilliam Richards Castle William Roscoe ThayerThe Harvard graduates' magazine → online text (page 60 of 103)