Laissez Faire Dbq Analysis

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AP US History 12/20/12 Laissez Faire and the Federal Government In the time from 1865 to 1900 Americans were trying to decide which kind of government would run the country best: that which governs often, or that which governs least. Controversies rose after the federal government began handing out land grants to railroad companies and decided to try and regulate interstate commerce. The federal government greatly violated the principles of laissez faire in the giving of land grants, the regulation of interstate commerce, and the passage of the Sherman Antitrust Act and their reasons were to populate the West, make trade between states easier, and to keep monopolistic companies from puppeteering the Senate. The government had been granted…show more content…
States could charge unfair rates and seldom agreed with each other for compromises. Another problem was the monopolization of the railways. The government also feared that if certain regions decided to cut off supply to other regions, there would be disaster. The gap between social classes began to grow and soon after the government decided to step in to regulate commerce between states (Doc J). The first annual Interstate Commerce Commission report stated that the act had not been passed to revoke rights, but to protect the rights of the people. The earlier poor practice called for regulation and the government wanted the people and corporations to reach a compromise (Doc L). This intervention allowed for trade between states to become much more…show more content…
Senators were elected mostly because of these business men and felt obligated to vote their way or just hadn’t listened to any other views because the business men basically owned them. John Sherman stated in Document N that he did not believe the act would interfere with lawful trade, but merely get rid of unlawful combinations and allow for competition in the market. President Grover Cleveland agreed with this sentiment in his second inaugural address (Doc O). Document P shows that the federal government was trying to destroy the companies’ ability to come together and form monopolies. But, Document Q showed that the Antitrust Act, although passed, was not entirely enforced. It seemed odd that even though more mergers had risen, the number of cases actually went down. However, in the case of antitrust activities, the government had simply wanted to open up the market for competition, a right that any man had, and to keep the Senate from being controlled by the big businesses. In Document A, Amasa Walker is quoted saying, "Economically, it will ever remain true, that the government is best which governs least.” But perhaps the ideals of laissez faire were not as great as it had sounded. Maybe these principles were never worth preserving, if they could allow for a few select companies to form monopolies and make all the profits, charge unfair
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