We will be doing more in class about the Roaring ’20s including the rise of Republican Presidents and, coincidentally, the wave of organized crime that swept the United States. We have a TIME-LIFE magazine supporting this as well–if you’re interested you’re welcome to borrow it and see photos of and intriguing stories from this time period.
We will also discuss monopolies, the robber barons, and anti-trust acts.
Anti-trust comments (stolen shamelessly from Americanhistory.org)
- Huge companies took over, and small companies were no longer needed.
- Business “combinations” got so much power that they could get rid of the small companies.
- Most of the wealth in the country is in the hands of only a few very wealthy people.
- Pools agreed to divide the market to fix prices, and they were formed a lot during this time period.
- Trusts were formed by combining smaller companies into larger ones.
- Monopolies on industries such as oil, steel, railroads, sugar refining, meatpacking, and chemicals were developed.
- Water, gas, and electricity were called natural monopolies and needed to be monopolies in order to function.
- The huge monopolies that were being formed had so much power that they could influence the government officials to pass laws that were in their interest.
- The Standard Oil Company, created by John D. Rockefeller and Samuel Andrews is an example of a monopoly that got rid of the smaller businesses underneath it.
US responses to classic liberalism
- During the 1870s, the public began asking for help. A group called the Progressives was formed, which started the Progressive Movement which lasted from 1900 to 1920.
- The Progressives worked for better workplaces, fair prices for goods, and for trusts to end.
- In short the Progressives worked for the government to regulate the market, and make monopolies
- In 1890, the Sherman Antitrust Act was passed, making it illegal for big companies and trusts to limit competition.
- In 1901, Theodore Roosevelt became president, and he was against trusts that limited competition. He became known as the “trust buster”.
- William Taft became president in 1909. He wanted to control the trusts Woodrow Wilson, the next president, also wanted stronger antitrust laws.
- In 1914, Congress passed the Federal Trade Commission Act and the Clayton Antitrust Act. The Federal Trade Commission Act set up the Federal Trade Commission which made sure that antitrust laws were followed. The Clayton Antitrust Act supported the Sherman Antitrust Act. This Act stopped businesses from creating monopolies. It made price-fixing illegal.
- **Ida Tarbell** was a muckracker, or a journalist who wrote articles contributing to the reform movement. When her publisher came up with the idea of exposing corporate trusts, Tarbell began a lengthy research of John Rockefeller’s business history. Her work, titled, The History of the Standard Oil Company, led the journalism movement known as muckracking. These muckrackers did much to expose the illegal trusts and monopolies in the economy