Identify the abuses in the railroad industry and discuss how these led to the first efforts at industrial regulation by the federal government.
There were many abuses perpetrated by railroad companies, which were among the biggest and most powerful in the nation in the late nineteenth century. But the abuses that most directly led to attempts at regulation involved two closely-connected practices. One was the formation of monopolies through acquisition, the formation of trusts, and "pooling" prices (basically agreeing not to compete with each other) and the other was charging unfair and exorbitant rates to farmers. The railroads, in the absence of competition, could demand whatever prices they wished to ship farm produce and equipment. There were several attempts at the state level to regulate these practices, but the first federal regulation was the Interstate Commerce Act, passed in 1887. It created the Interstate Commerce Commission, which was intended to enforce bans on many of the unfair practices mentioned above. This marked an unprecedented effort at government regulation of business and industry, albeit one that had little immediate effect.