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McCormick, Bart E. (ed.) / The Wisconsin alumni magazine
Volume 28, Number 4 (Feb. 1927)

Alumni in the news,   pp. 137-138


Page 137


February, 19271
Alumni in the News
JOHN J. ESCH, B.L. '82, LL.B. '87,
   for the past six years a member of
the Inter-State Commerce Commission,
was elected President of that very im-
portant body on January ist.
  Mr. Esch was born March 21,+'86i,
near Norwalk, Monroe County, Wiscon-
sin. He is the son of a "circuit rider" of
the German Evangelical Association.
He graduated from the Sparta high
school in 1878, entered the University in
the fall of that year, and graduated in
1882. In his senior year, he was editor of
the "Badger." He-was also interested
in organizing an athletic association.
He was a member of Athena Debating
Society and one of its joint debaters.
At Commencementhe was class prophet.
  After graduation from the Law
School in   1887, he located  in La
Crosse, Wisconsin, where he practiced
until his election to the 56th Congress
in November, 1898. He was appointed
a member of the Committees on Public
Lands and on Military Affairs and in
19o4 he became a member of the Com-
mittee on Interstate and Foreign Com-
merce, serving for 18 years, becoming
its Chairman in the 66th Congress. He
served in the- House twenty-two con-
secutive years.
  A guiding motive of his career in the
House was the promotion of safety to
human life. He introduced the bill re-
quiring carriers to establish automatic
block signals and the first bill requiring
passenger cars to be constructed of
steel. Through his persistence, a pro-
vision in the Transportation Act (Esch-
Cummins Bill of i92o) gave the Com-
mission authority to require carriers to
install automatic train-stop or other
safety devices.
  He was author of the Hours of Serv-
ice Act, limiitng the hours of service of
employees, the Accident Reports Act,
requiring carriers to report accidents to
the Interstate Commerce Commission,
amendments to the Safety Appliance
A c t s , requiring standardization of
freight car equipment, amendments to
the Transportation of Explosives Act,
and he aided in securing amendments to
the Locomotive Boiler Inspection Act.
  In addition to the above measures
promoting sa'fety of employees. and
travelers upon railroads, he was author
of the Match Bill which prohibited the
use or yeiiow pnospnorus in tne manu-
facture of matches.
  He secured an appropriation from the
Federal Government for the acquisition
of fifteen thousand acres of land near
Sparta, Wisconsin, for a military reser-
vation which bids fair to become the
chief summer camp of artillery of the
Central Northwest.
  He was joint author of the Esch-
Townsend Bill, known as the Hepburn
Act, which gave the Interstate Com-
merce Commission the power to pre-
scribe just and reasonable rates.
  He was author of the Car Service Act
which gave the Commission in times of
emergency the right to route traffic
irrespective of the ownership of cars.
This act now forms a part of the Trans-
portation Act.
  With the late Senator Cummins, he
was author of what is known as the
Transportation Act, i92o (Esch-Cum-
mins Bill) which among other things
      * ~ ~ ~  ~  ~   1 -g.. - o.,, - 1, 4 .,. . A
just rates so as to bring about a pre-
scribed rate of returns on-the physical
evaluation of railroad property.
  He was appointed a member of the
Newlands Commission created in 1916
to investigate the entire railroad situa-
tion of the United States, and for eight
years he was a member of the Executive
Committee of the National Republican
Congressional Committee.
  He was appointed a member of the
Interstate Commerce Commission by
President Harding in 192i, and on
January I, 1927, he was elected Chair-
man of the Commission. As a member of
the Commission, the Bureau of Safety
and the Bureau of Signals and Train-
Control Devices are under his jurisdic-
tion:
  He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa,
of the National Institute of Social
Sciences, and of several fraternal organi-
zations.
  He is married and has seven children,
four of whom are graduates of the Uni-
versity of Wisconsin, and one of Hamil-
ton College. The youngest daughter is
at present attending Milwaukee Downer
College.
E ARLY biographicalinformation con-
     cerning.so well known an alumna as
Miss Zona Gale, B.L. '95, M.L. '99, is a
matter of such common knowledge
among alumni that we fear to insult
your intelligence by telling you things
you already know.
  There's this though that may be news
to some of you,--Zona Gale has climbed
one rung higher on the ladder of literary
achievement- through her latest work,
"Preface to a Life." Again she has
demonstrated her right to a title rarely
writers-an artist in fiction. "Miss Lulu
Bett" was heralded as probably the
finest example of the new type of novel,
a sort of glorified short story, wherein
one nuclear situation in the life of a
character is chosen and treated by the
impressionistic rather than the realistic
method of writing. In "Preface to a
Life" Miss Gale has applied this same
method to the entire life of a character
and has accomplished the difficult feat
with such daring artistry that it has
elicited the highest praise from literary
critics. If the book holds. the same fascin-
ation for you as it did for the writer, you
will begrudge every moment that takes
you away from the reading of it, once
you have started, and for days there
will be plbrases that will come back to
you with a haunting beauty.
  We like to think of Zona Gale, the
writer, as belonging to the whole world,
but Zona Gale, the woman and citizen,
as belonging first of all to us-Wiscon-
sin.  As members of a large family take
great pride in mentioning to their friends
the attainments of one of their number
who has far outshone the others in some
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