Rise Of Monopolies

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Register to read the introduction… Falling prices, along with the need for better efficiency in industry, led to the rise of such companies as Carnegie Steel and Standard Oil, which controlled a majority of the nation's supply of raw steel and oil respectively. The rise of there monopolies and trusts concerned many farmers; for they felt that the disappearance of competition would lead to erratic and unreasonable price rises that would hurt consumers. James B. Weaver, the Populist Party's presidential candidate in the 1892 election, summed up the feelings of many Americans of the period in his work, A Call to Action: An Interpretation of the Great Uprising. He wrote, "It is clear that trusts are…in conflict with the Common law. They are monopolies organized to destroy competition and restrain trade…Once they secure control of a given line of business, they are master of the situation…They limit the price of the raw material so as to impoverish the producer, drive him to a single market, reduce the price of every class of labor connected with the trade, throw out of employment large numbers of persons…and finally…they increase the price to the consumer…The main weapons of the trust are threats, intimidation, bribery, fraud, wreck, and pillage." However, the facts refute many of Weaver's charges against the monopolies. While it is true that many used questionable means to achieve their monopoly, many were not out to crush competitors. To the contrary, John D, Rockefeller, head of Standard Oil, competed ruthlessly not to crush other refiners but to persuade them to join Standard Oil and share the business so all could profit. Furthermore, the fear that the monopolies would raise prices unreasonably was never realized. Prices tended to fall near the end of the 1800's and created what some have called "a consumer's millennium." Thus, the agrarian complaints against monopolies were not …show more content…
Deflation had been running rampant during the latter half of the 1800's, as evidenced by the drastic fall in the value of wheat and cotton. To fight the deflationary trend, the Populists demanded a reversal of the Coinage Act of 1873, which demonetized silver. Here again, the farmers are wrong in the assessment of their problems. It is true that the country's money supply was not adequate. United States government data from 1961 shows that though the country's population between 1865 and 1875 increased by nearly four million, the country's money supply actually decreased. However, many farmers used the money supply to explain problems that indeed had very little to do with the money supply at all. This is best summed up in a quote from J. Laurence Laughlin's article, "Causes of Agricultural Unrest." He says, "Feeling the coils of some mysterious power about them, the farmers…have attributed their misfortunes to the ‘construction' in prices, cause, as they think, not by an increased production of wheat throughout the world, but by the ‘scarcity of gold.'" History has shown that battle between gold and silver had little real meaning. The real battle was not between gold and silver, but instead what would be done to check deflation. William McKinley, in his 1896 acceptance speech, said, "Free silver would not mean that silver dollars were to be freely had without cost or labor…It would not make labor easier, the hours shorter, or the pay better. I would not make the farming less laborious or more profitable…." Farmers did not see that the silver would just lead to more problems. These facts prove that the farmers view of silver was not sound, thus invalidating their complaints about the nation's financial

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