AMH 2020 Lecture 4: AMH Chapter 20- Module 4 notes

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7 Feb 2017

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AMH Chapter 20
Railroads received both praise and hate
o Allowed farmers to ship goods, but created a monopoly
o Munn v. Illinois, 1877- if a private company’s business affects public interest, the
public has the right to regulate business
o Wabash Case: the Illinois legislature could not regulate freight rates between two
points on the Wabash railroad because it ran through multiple states
o Interstate commerce act: regulated railroads by creating standards and rules about
charges, commerce, and monopolies; created the Interstate Commerce
Commission (ICC)
The money power and trusts
o 1890s- five railroad systems
o 1900- under control of NY investment banksJ.P. Morgan and Co. & Kuhn,
Loeb, and Co.
o Investment banks allowed railroads to lay tracks, modernize equipment, etc.
Bankers took advantage of the profit they were receiving and made America
question oligopoly
o Sherman Antitrust Act: "Every contract, combination, in the form of trust or
otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several
states, or with foreign nations, is hereby declared to be illegal."
Loopholes were often found in the ActUS vs. EC Knight Company
1895: a monopoly of sugar refining was not against the act because
refining was not placed under trade or commerce
o Big business grew bigger from 1890-1901
State chartered trusts grew from 251 to 290
The amount of money invested in trusts grew from $192 million to $326
The Agrarian Revolt
o The Grange: farmers banded together in the 1860s, and in 1873, became an
organization of change
Started as a social organization, but moved to one for economic change
Midwest chapters tried to cut out the middleman and curb monopolistic
practices of the railroads and warehouses
Most grange enterprises failed due to lack of experienced businessmen
Grangers elected state legislators that were supporters of their program,
but that power quickly declined
o The Farmers’ Alliance
Main goals were to deal with local problems and build a society in which
economic competition might give way to cooperation
Women were full voting members in most alliances, and many held office
and served as lecturers
Mary E. Lease—“raise less corn and more hell”
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Sobriety was the key to a stable rural society
In 1889, a political party was formed, and the Ocala Demands were their
party platform
Candidates supported by the Alliances won partial or complete control of
the legislatures of 12 states. They also won six governorships, three seats
in the U.S. Senate, and 50 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives
This party turned into the “People’s Party”, or the Populists
Populist presidential candidate James Weaver of Iowa polled more than 1
million votes, 8.5 % of the total, and carried six mountain and plains states
for 22 electoral votes. Nearly 1,500 Populist candidates won election to
seats in state legislatures. The party elected 3 governors, 5 senators, and
10 congressmen
The Populist Constituency
o Many populists were single-crop, unmechanized farmers
o Populist was a party for the economically and culturally marginalized
o Populism never gained much support in the labor sector, except in the Rockies
where miners accepted “free silver”—permitting silver and gold to become the
basis of currency to expand the money supply
o Southern white populists did accept colored citizens, so long as whites remained
in control; this was shut down as “white supremacy”
o Populist leaders were primarily Protestant and part of the rural middle class; some
were somber, while others were semi hysterical
o Tom Watson and Jeff Davis, among others, attracted support by arousing the
resentment against poor southerners against the planter aristocracysouthern
o Suggested a network of warehouses where farmers could deposit their crops,
borrow low interest money from the government, and wait for the price of goods
to go up before selling them
o Called for abolition of national banks, the end to absentee land ownership, the
direct election of US Senators, regulation and government ownership of railroads,
telephones, and telegraphs, a graduated income tax, and adding silver to the
money supply
o Populism was not a challenge to industrialization or to capitalism itself, but a
response to what the Populists considered the brutal and chaotic way in which the
economy was developing
Wonderful Wizard of Oz
o Election of 1896 pitted Republican William McKinley against Democrat William
Jennings Bryan, with the main issue was bringing silver back into the money
supply because of the depression of 1893
o Bimetallism: gold and silver were the basis for a dollar
o L. Frank Baum (1856-1919): author from Syracuse, NY
Baum was a great storyteller and told stories to children in his general
store, which went bankrupt due to his generosity
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