Documents for Lairezz Faire

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UNITED STATES HISTORY Section H Part A (Suggested writing time-40 minutes)

The following question requires you to construct a coherent essay that integrates your interpretation of documents A-H and your knowledge of the period referred to in the question. In your essay, you should strive to support your assertions both by citing key pieces of evidence from the documents and by drawing on your knowledge of the period. To what extent and for what reasons did the policies of the federal government from 1865 to 1900 violate the principles of laissez faire, which advocated minimal governmental intervention in the economy?  Consider with specific reference to the following three areas of policy:  railroad land grants, control of interstate commerce, and antitrust activities.

                                                               Document A
“Economically, it will ever remain true, that the government is best which governs least.  The wants of a people are the sole proper, the sole possible, motives for production.  Nothing can be substituted for them.  Anything that seems to take their place is merely a debasement of them.  The interests of producers, whether laborers or capitalists, secure, better than any other possible means, the gratification of such wants.” Amasa Walker, an American economist, The Science of Wealth: A Manual of Political Economy (1866)

                                            Document B                      TOTAL UNITED STATES LAND GRANTS TO RAILROADS

    Acreage in Grants    Per Cent of State              (in millions)        Area Granted Alabama   2.7    8
Arizona    7.7    11
Arkansas    2.6    8
California    11.6    11
Colorado    3.8    6
Florida    2.2    6 Idaho    1.3    3
Illinois    2.6   7
Iowa    4.7    13
Kansas    8.2    16
Louisiana    1.4    4
Michigan    3.1    8
Minnesota    10.1    19
Mississippi    1.1    4
Missouri    2.3    5
Montana    14.7    16
Nebraska    7.3    15
Nevada    5.1    7
New Mexico    3.4    4
North Dakota    10.7    24
Oregon    3.7    6
Utah    2.2    4
Washington    9.6    22
Wisconsin    3.7    10
Wyoming   5.8    9
Total Acreage 131.5  % of Total Area of These 25 States

                           Document C
“WHEREAS, We recognize the railways of the country as an effectual means of developing its agricultural resources, and as having an interest, common and inseparable, with the country through which they pass; and,

“WHEREAS, We have in times past fostered and aided them by liberal charters and concessions, made by public and private parties, and still desire to encourage further development of the railway system; therefore,

“Resolved, That a fair degree of reciprocity would suggest that corporations have a common interest and public aid, should , in their turn, endeavor to subserve the interest of the country through which they pass, by charging fair rates of freights, and by the equitable and just treatment of all localities along their lines.”

Resolution adopted at a National Agricultural Congress of Farmer Representatives in Indianapolis, (May 28, 1873)

                    Document D
“The giving of these land grants to railroads has not been an unmixed evil. . . .  The railroads have gone to work and instituted a system of settlement on those lands.  They have advertised them—and the Government never would have done that.  They have gone and brought emigrants from the Eastern States and from foreign countries; and they have given the purchasers of their land credit, and in many cases, in hard times, they have even furnished them a little capital. . . .   So that...
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