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The Express Companies of the United States A Study of a Public Utility   By:

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A Study of a Public Utility


Price 10 Cents

Published by THE INTERCOLLEGIATE SOCIALIST SOCIETY 70 Fifth Avenue, New York City 1919


The Intercollegiate Socialist Society takes pleasure in presenting to the public this careful monograph of Mr. Bertram Benedict on the important subject of "The Express Companies of the United States." The pamphlet is particularly timely in these days when the nation is endeavoring to formulate its policy regarding the future control of the express business.

It is, moreover, the first concise and scholarly analysis of the express service in America that has appeared in recent years and is a distinct contribution to the literature on the subject. The author herein presents a vivid, bird's eye view of the development of the express companies from the days of the stage driver up to the present time. He portrays the rapid consolidation of express systems, their integration with the great railroads, their remarkable enlargement of activities, the growing competition of the parcel post with the private express systems and the increasing governmental regulation over this utility.

This survey is followed by an analysis of the present status of the express companies, and a discussion of express profits. The relative service rendered by express and parcel post is then dealt with, and the reader is treated to an illuminating discussion of the probable savings accruing from government ownership and management of the express industry, particularly as a result of consolidation of equipment, agencies, offices, etc.

In conclusion, Mr. Benedict deals with various methods whereby the government may take over the express companies, tells of the present status of the companies as a result of the war, and gives us a glimpse into future developments. The author reaches the conclusion that the express service should be a public agency and that it should be closely connected with the post office department rather than with the railroad administration. The pamphlet as well explains the manner in which European countries have handled this problem and presents a complete bibliography on the general topic. The author throughout gives a wealth of accurate information concerning the express system in all of its manifold relationships.

The pamphlet is one of a series planned by the Intercollegiate Socialist Society on various phases of public ownership and democratic management.




The express companies of the United States are unique organisms, and have no counterparts in any country outside of North America. In Europe, their services are performed by the parcel posts or by the railroads themselves, often in conjunction with collecting and delivering companies.

The express company in the United States collects from the shipper the matter to be sent by express and delivers it to the consignee. The charge for expressage may be either paid by shipper or collected from the consignee. The transportation between different points is generally furnished by the railroads, although steamship and stage lines are also used to a slight extent; and the charge for this transportation, as well as the charges for collection and delivery, are included within the one fee levied by the express company. This one fee also automatically includes insurance up to fifty dollars, there being additional fees for additional insurance, to the amount of which there is practically no limit. The goods shipped are sent in express cars attached to passenger trains or on special express trains maintaining the speed of passenger trains. Because of the speedy transportation thus afforded, merchandise large enough to be sent as freight, such as machinery and live stock, is often forwarded by express; but by far the greater part of express traffic in normal times is composed of articles weighing less than one hundred pounds... Continue reading book >>

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