The idea was that government should leave business alone, allow it to operate unregulated.
Legislators weren’t supposed to pass a lot of laws, or worry about regulating business practices.
When people did challenge a company’s business conduct,
I mean, I mean, in court cases, well, the few laws that did exist were usually interpreted in favor of business interests.
But over time, it started becoming increasingly obvious and troubling to the public that some of these big companies simply had too much control.
There were criticisms that owners had too much opportunity to exploit workers, workers and consumers, because they could control prices and wages.
And small business owners and small farmers couldn’t compete.
So there was bad press, bad publicity, enough that the government eventually felt it had to do something,
so it passed two key pieces of legislation.
One law was designed to regulate the prices set by the railroads;
another made it illegal for trusts to be used to limit competition.
Both were aimed squarely at reducing the exclusive control that existed in some industries.