Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with John Thomas Outlaw, June 5, 1980. Interview H-0277. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Ending rate discrimination in the railroad industry

At mid-century, southern governors banded together to end railroads operators' practice of charging more for transportation to and among southern destinations. Rate parity helped bring railroads south and contributed to the growth of the southern textile industry, Outlaw explains.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with John Thomas Outlaw, June 5, 1980. Interview H-0277. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

Let me ask a question that shows more my lack of knowledge about the industry than anything else. In the railroad industry, there are these old issues about freight rates and basing points and advantages which certain cities … Say, even within the South, Atlanta got a certain sort of an advantage, and then Charlotte got some basing point kind of advantage. Is there a similar thing in the trucking, where a particular city might be given a little special favor or, because of the way that the rate structure developed, certain cities became the centers for the trucking industry more than others would in North and South Carolina?
Now you cannot discriminate. Back in the early days when the railroads were in their heyday, so to speak, and to protect the large movements of freight up in the New England areas, they had preferential rates for that part of the country. And they were higher down this way, as I mentioned earlier, but not quite in this manner. It was 1947, I believe, it was, or in that vicinity, that the southern governors got together and sued the railroads, and the courts ruled that they could not discriminate, therefore, in the future. Rates would be the same in both areas. But for a long time they had had these differential rates that were very preferable [preferential] to the Northeast. After that was done, that's when the textile industry moved south and began to grow and to flourish as we have it today.
Would there have been anything like that at all in the trucking industry earlier()?
No, because after the Truck Act of 1935, whatever the carriers' rate was on different brackets, like from ten-mile brackets on up to 500 miles or 1,000 miles, any shipper that was moving anything in any of those brackets would have the same rate. Now the carriers can have a different rate in there, but that carrier cannot show any preferential treatment or give anything to one shipper that they would not give to the other, any preference of any kind.