Topic 3: Unfair Economic Concentration--Directions


To analyze the negative effect trusts had on consumer sovereignty during the Progressive Era and the reform efforts that were made to address the problems created by companies operating as a monopoly. 

Slide 7: The Problem with Trusts and Monopolies

To begin, you will use what you learned in previous lessons to tell why trusts and monopolies were considered bad for the American public.  The two quotes below are provided to summarize many of the things you have already learned.


Quote #1:

A mere handful of men controlled the industrial production of the country.... 

No student of the economic changes in recent years can escape the conclusion that the railroads, telegraphs, shipping, cable, telephone, traction, express, mining, iron, steel, coal, oil, gas, electric light, cotton, copper, sugar, tobacco, agricultural implements and the food products are completely controlled and mainly owned by these hundred men....With this enormous concentration of business it is possible to create, artificially, periods of prosperity and periods of panic. Prices can be lowered or advanced at the will of the "System."


--- Robert LaFollette, 1908 (An American politician who served as a US Congressman; then as Governor of Wisconsin from 1901-1906; Republican Senator from 1906-1925; and ran for President of the United States as the nominee of the Progressive Party in 1924).



Quote #2:

The effort to restore competition as it was sixty years ago, and to trust for justice solely to this proposed restoration of competition, is just as foolish as if we should go back to the flintlocks of Washington's continentals as a substitute for modern weapons of precision....Our purpose should be, not to strangle business as an incident of strangling combinations, but to regulate big corporations in a thoroughgoing and effective fashion, so as to help legitimate business as an incident to thoroughly and completely safeguarding the interests of the people as a whole.


 --- Theodore Roosevelt (President of the United States 1901-1909, Ran as Progressive Party candidate in 1912).

Answer these questions in your first slide:


1.  Why were trusts/monopolies considered bad for the American public?

2.  What problem did Robert LaFollette see going on in the American economy? (See Quote #1 Above)

3.  What did President Theodore have to say about the government regulating business?  For what purpose did he believe in regulation of business? (See Quote #2 Above)

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Slides 8-9: Important People and Government Action

In slides 2-3, you will discuss the actions taken by important individuals and the government to regulate industry and curb the power of trusts and monopolies.  To do so, you should focus on the items listed below.  Be sure to evaluate the success or failure of each item.


  • Sherman Anti-Trust Act 1890 (What did this law say?)

  • Presidents Roosevelt and Taft

  • Clayton Antitrust Act 1914  (What did this law say?)

  • Federal Trade Act/Commission 1914  (What did this law say?)

  • Ida Tarbell “History of Standard Oil Company”  (Why is Ida Tarbell considered a muckracker?  What work did she publish?  What was the "History of Standard Oil Company" about?  What happened as a result of this work?)


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