What were the consequences of the rise of trusts during the 19th century?

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The rise of trusts in the late 1800s had an impact on American society. As big businesses formed, the competition began to decrease.  The trusts either bought out the competition to form monopolies or merged competing businesses into one company.  This was not good for consumers who had fewer choices, higher prices, and uneven customer service. With little to no competition, these big businesses were free to do what they wanted.  One impact of the formation of trusts was the passage of laws to restrict their activities.  The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 was one such law.  However, it was worded so vaguely, the courts would not enforce its provisions.  More trusts formed even though this law was designed to prevent that from happening. As businesses grew in size, American workers were at a disadvantage.  They were unable to negotiate decent salaries, hours, and working conditions with the owners of the trusts.  Many workers suffered at the hand of the trusts.  Most strikes were unsuccessful.  

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