Carl Fisher, Washington Lobbyist, 1910

There seems to be no end to the businesses and professional activities that Carl Fisher, founder of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, took ownership of or led in some way. Among them:

Add to this impressive list that Fisher (read wife Jane Watts Fisher's biography book on Carl, "Fabulous Hoosier," for free elsewhere on First Super Speedway) also lobbied the powers of Washington D.C. to gain support for the modernization of roads. Fisher, not only developed some of the first highways spanning state borders, but he constantly advocated that improved American roads were critical to the development of the domestic auto industry. This was one of the major reasons he founded the Speedway, to give manufacturers a chance to test and prove their products.
The article in the attachment, FisherLobby020510, reports that delegates from Indiana were to join a convention of representatives from across the country in Washington D.C. There were two delegates from each state and Clarence A. Kenyon, who later served as president of the Indiana Good Roads Association, joined Fisher as the Hoosier representatives. Kenyon had been president of road paving company. The conference was scheduled for February 15, 16, and 17. Both men were selected by Indiana Governor Thomas Marshall to represent the Hoosier State.
The point of the convention was to garner support for a national registration of automobiles. Up to that point in history, cars did not have registration papers or license plates. A list of the names of the men who served as delegates from various states can be found by opening the attachment. The bill was referred to the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee.
The proposed motor vehicle bureau was to be a branch of the Department of Commerce and Labor. The plan called for an automobile commissioner to be appointed at a salary of $5,000 annually. His staff was to include a secretary at $2,000 a year, and a clerical staff. These rank-and-file employees were to be paid at $1,200 annually.
What we call today a license plate is referred to as a "registration tag," and would be required to be carried on all cars. This was to be a white "placard" with black numbers, not less than three inches long. The initials of the home state were to be positioned just before the number and the letters "U.S." were to come after the number. Two lights were required to illuminate the car at night, one of them shining on the registration placard.
The registration fee proposed as $5.00. Car owners had to provide a complete and detailed description of his machine, his right to operate it, its horsepower rating, as well as other information not detailed in the article. Anyone failing to comply with these regulations would lose the privilege to operate a motor vehicle. Violaters were to be assessed a $25 fine before recovering their license. In addition to the placard affixed to the vehicle, the car owner had to keep a registration certificate with him/her while driving in the event that authorities required it for examination.
A week later, on February 12, 1910, the Indianapolis News followed up with another article on the Washington convention (attachment FisherLobbyNews021210). The gathering called the "national legislative convention" was held at the New Willard Hotel. Again, the conference dates were February 15, 16, and 17. Note, too, that the American Automobile Association (AAA) was organizing the conference under the leadership of Secretary Frederick H. Elliott and Charles Thaddeus Terry, chairman of the AAA legislative board.

FisherLobby020510.pdf1.07 MB
FisherLobbyNews021210.pdf799.07 KB