Laissez Faire Essay

Submitted By freesky181
Words: 1375
Pages: 6

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Paige Oliver
Period 6
10 Febuary 2014
Mr. Evans

After the Civil War, during the Gilded Age the railroad industry was born, their mission, to physically unite the United States and speed up industrialization making the country the top manufacturers in the world. Transcontinental railroads expanded across the country, transporting raw materials and manufactured products all throughout the country. Because of this an integrated market was made. Theses accomplishments would not be possible if the government did not help railroad companies. Laissez faire principles provides companies freedom to develop without the government interfering or helping, but the government defied the very principle they supported. For example, the federal government would try to regulate business affairs to appease the public and regulate the railroad industries power over both the government and the people.
And so the federal government infringed on the principle of laissez faire to a moderate extent by providing land grants to companies in order to tie the country together and to have faster transportation. They then took control of interstate commerce to stop fair discrimination and finally passed anti­trust acts to appease the people.
Before the Civil War transportation was slow and dangerous but in the Gilded Age railroads provided safer and better transportation. The government provided land grants to railroad companies, a total of 155 million acres of land to help expand the railroad system. The government and companies both profited from the land grants, the government would use the alternate square mile system, in which the government let them claim an assortment of land ahead of time and the government takes another and sells it at three dollars an acre to the public or banks.This method was more cheaper and friendlier than increased taxation. Villages started to become towns and soon into cities because of the federal government land grants. Railroads made the United States industrialize rapidly and turned the country into the top industrialized nation in the world. Even though land grants help the country progress economically and unite more physically, Congress decided to not partake in any sort of aid because “the interests of producers, whether laborers or capitalist” are their own individual responsibility and would be “a debasement” if the government interfered”(Document A). The government followed the laissez faire principle because they believed that it was an individual and the public's responsibility to care for themselves regarding their financial situations, but the government broke that principle to provide themselves faster transportation to mail and military forces for the Native Americans reeking havoc in the west. Despite their support for laissez faire the government felt the need to disregard it to improve the country's unity and economy. The governments generous grants that was a total of 131.5 millions shows the current need for public transportation (document D).
Despite the increasing debt, moves along with the lands grants even though they are not obligated to do so. But the good that came from providing land grants outweighs the importance

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of following laissez faire principles. The governments moderate degree to defying laissez faire was with good purpose and is justified.
Since transportation of raw material was quicker in the U.S. farmer made a profit in selling their crops across the nation and only had to pay fees to railroad companies for delivery.
HOwever in interstate commerce some corruption was included. When farmers would pay the fee the price would vary by how much the farmers do business with the railroad company, so if a farmer rarely does business with a railroad company then their fee is more than a farmer that does frequent business with the same company. So when a panic in 1887 came the farmers were outraged by their