What were Theodore Roosevelt's beliefs about trusts and how did he get the nickname "trustbuster"?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Theodore Roosevelt was opposed to trusts in some instances, but not in others.  Since previous presidents had not been opposed to trusts at all, Roosevelt represented a change.  However, he was not opposed to all trusts.

Roosevelt believed that some trusts acted in the public interest while others did not.  He wanted to break up the trusts that were acting badly while allowing the “good” trusts to continue to operate.  He wanted the government to have the right to decide which trusts were good and which were bad.  Roosevelt earned the nickname “trustbuster” from his actions with regard to the Northern Securities case.  Northern Securities was a large holding company that had been created by the owners of many large railroads.  It essentially gave them a monopoly over much of the railroad network of the country.  Roosevelt tried to break up this trust.  In 1904, the Supreme Court agreed with him and ordered that Northern Securities be broken up.  This established President Roosevelt’s reputation as a person who was committed to fighting against the power of the monopolies in the US economy.

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