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Page history last edited by Mr. Hengsterman 2 years, 8 months ago




Image result for The Northern Securities Case + map


Prompt: Evaluate the effective of the Progressive Era reformers and Federal government in bringing about reforms at the national level. In your response, be sure to analyze the success and limitations of those efforts in the period 1880 to 1920.


The Interstate Commerce Act (1887)

Interstate Commerce Commission (1887)

Northern Securities Company (1902)

Elkins Act (1903)

Hepburn Act (1906)






Munn vs Illinois (1877) and Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific RR Co. v. IL (1886) earlier attempts at state level railroad regulation;



Munn v. Illinois (1877) – Railroad discrimination against farmers led to pro-farming legislation in the Grange Laws. These laws were challenged by large corporations, but the Supreme Court ruled in favor of state regulation because it had a direct effect on the general public. In its ruling, the court upheld the right of state legislatures to regulate railroad rates. 


"Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite wrote the majority opinion. In it he stated that private property becomes subject to regulation by the government through its 'police powers' when the property is devoted to the public interest" Eric Foner and John A. Garraty, eds., The Reader's Companion to American History (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1991) 759.  

"Common carriers exercise a sort of public office, and have duties to perform in which the public is    interested.... Their business is, therefore, 'affected with a public interest.'"-- (From the majority opinion of Chief Justice Waite.)


After this legal victory, the Grange backed away from political activism. In addition, improved agricultural conditions in the Midwest caused membership to drop.


Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific RR Co. v. IL (1886) – Reversal of 1877 decision, only the federal government was declared able to regulate interstate commerce.




The Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 is a United States federal law that was designed to regulate the railroad industry, particularly its monopolistic practices. The Act required that railroad rates be "reasonable and just," but did not empower the government to fix specific rates.


An  Interstate Commerce Commission  was created in 1887, railroad barons were still able to have high shipping rates because of their ability to appeal the commission's decisions on high rates to the federal courts.


Point of Interest:  Connection to farmers calls for Railroad regulation; This act establishes the Interstate Commerce Commission as a regulatory agency; The Act created a federal regulatory agency, the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), which was charged with monitoring railroads to ensure that they complied with the new regulations;



Image result for good trusts + bad trusts


TR believed good trusts were those that although controlled large industries, were good services and provided reasonable rates/prices. Bad trusts were those that drove up rates and were corrupted, reducing competition as well. Roosevelt believed it to be his job to take care of trusts for the best interest of the people, and many cheered him on



In 1902, President Roosevelt challenged the Northern Securities Companya railroad trust company that sought to achieve a monopoly of the railroads in the Northwest.  The Supreme Court upheld the President and the trust was forced to be dissolved 





1903 Elkins Act, heavy fines on railroads that gave rebates.



1906  Hepburn Act of 1906, restricting free passes and expanded the Interstate Commerce Commission to  include express companies, sleeping-car companies, and pipelines.                                                                                 


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