The Gilded Age, Part 4.

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The Gilded Age by Mark Twain

Hartford, Conn: American Publishing Company. Brecksville, OH, U. Black, pebbled cloth with title, etc. The mottoes themselves have appeared in all the many editions of The Gilded Age.

But have never been made public until now, and are therefore a feature of this edition. Average, worn copy, all text, illustrations present. Of all American cities, Chicago is perhaps the most vivid example of the Gilded Age in all its glory and squalor. It experienced unbelievable growth through the period: in its population was just under ,; three decades later it was almost 1.

But it also epitomized the social problems of the time. Unfair conditions led to agitation for change, with some of the most significant events in the labor movement occurring in Chicago. The first major labor incident in Chicago was part of a nationwide railroad strike that began in West Virginia in after a railroad company continually slashed wages due to an economic depression.

Although unions were not yet widespread, thousands of Chicagoans joined the strike. Militia and police were called in to brutally suppress the unrest; some 30 workers were killed and many more wounded. Only nine years later, the city became the site of another infamous disaster when tens of thousands of workers joined a strike for an eight-hour workday in As more and more workers walked off the job in the next few days, clashes between police and strikers continually flared up.

Police eventually ordered the peaceful gathering to disperse; someone threw a bomb at the police; they retaliated with confused gunfire. At least eight officers and several civilians died in the chaos, and numerous more were injured. Although the bomb-thrower was never identified, eight prominent anarchists were tried. In a notoriously unjust case, seven were sentenced to death despite a lack of evidence. Four were hanged, one committed suicide, and the remaining three were eventually pardoned. The Haymarket Affair inspired labor movements around the world, including May Day celebrations of international workers.

Constitution for almost a century before Munn. Its most fundamental meaning was that no person could be deprived of life, liberty, or property without the benefit of proper judicial hearing and procedure. In Munn , however, company attorneys argued that due process promised more than a trial according to settled judicial procedure. The guarantee, they said, was also meant to protect private rights from arbitrary government interference. This theory concentrated on the substance of legislation rather than the procedure by which the law was enforced.

Substantive due process, as it thus came to be called, would give the federal judiciary the authority to overrule state legislation that interfered with individual rights.

“Too Heavy a Load for the Trades-Unions”

Everything which may pass under the form of [legislative] enactment is not considered the law of the land. Goudy, , They could also draw upon some state court opinions to support their argument. The most well known of these was Wynehamer v. It would be easy enough for them to establish the general proposition that property rights fell among those liberties the Constitution was intended to protect. Nobody would disagree with that basic contention.

The Fifth Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Contract Clause all contained provisions that protected property. Goudy, , , Jewett, , 28 Rate regulation, they said, had the same effect. Jewett made this abundantly clear. Legislation fixing prices represented an arbitrary and irresponsible power, he said, a power practically to annihilate private property by destroying the value of its use. Jewett, , Writing for a 7 to 2 majority in Munn v. Illinois , Chief Justice Waite upheld the Illinois warehouse regulations.

In the process of explaining why the Court had upheld the regulations, the Chief Justice made some concessions. Statutes regulating the use of private property do not necessarily deprive the owner of his property without due process of law, Waite wrote. His reasoning also reflected a personal discomfort with the absolutist version of property rights that Jewett and Goudy favored, and a keen appreciation of the ideals of popular sovereignty and the rights of the people. Unlike the majority, however, he did not believe that regulation of rates fell within the police power.

Field did not give us much help in determining why he reached that conclusion. Constitutional provisions intended for the protection of property, he insisted, should be liberally construed. Waite would assume that the legislation is valid unless proven otherwise. If there is doubt, the express will of the legislature should be sustained. It could be traced back to the majority ruling in the Charles River Bridge Case , which was discussed earlier.

Field captured their position, and their distrust for the democratic process, in his dissent. Of course Waite could not deny that a state might abuse its power. They had dreamed that the decision would establish an unequivocal right to be free of government regulation. More realistically, they hoped it would produce a doctrine that the reasonableness of government rates and regulations was inherently a judicial question and that courts would presume that rate regulation was an unconstitutional form of confiscation.

Two years later delegates to the California constitutional convention pointed to Munn as proof that they had the authority to regulate railroad rates and fares. Debates, , I And, even a decade later, a reform minded governor of Minnesota reminded the legislature that while the expediency of railroad regulation might be doubted, the right of the state to regulate was no longer in question. Cortner, , Editors of the Minneapolis Tribune were even more confident.

This new doctrine would give much of what railroad and corporate leaders had wanted. Under it all state regulation of rates would be suspected of being a confiscation of property that violated the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court would thus become the final arbitrator of the validity of rates. Reflecting a distrust of the democratic process, the Court would start from a presumption that rate regulation violated individual liberty.

It would also develop a narrow definition of the police powers of the state—that range of legitimate state authority to interfere with liberty. Ely , Because of its emphasis on entrepreneurial liberty this new doctrine is often referred to as laissez-faire constitutionalism.


Magrath, , From this perspective it is common to conclude that the Court quickly moved away from the Munn doctrine. It is also commonly, and mistakenly, believed that Munn immediately came under attack from attorneys for railroad, industrial, and financial interests. They achieved some measure of success in Santa Clara County v.

Southern Pacific Railroad , which came to stand for the proposition that corporations are persons for purposes of the Fourteenth Amendment. It refused to interpret the Fourteenth Amendment as providing a general restriction on government regulation of business. In cases challenging the validity of regulations it continued to rely on the antebellum legal tradition that emphasized the right of the community as a limit on property. The ideas and theories that corporation and business attorneys pressed were gradually becoming part of constitutional discourse, but their elevation to constitutional doctrine would have to wait until after the Waite era.

Kens , Ames , it added force to the idea that regulation was a form of confiscation when it ruled that the due process clause guaranteed that businesses receive a fair return on the value of the property it employs for the public convenience. Ely, , But analyzing Munn in its own context puts a different spin on the majority decision.

It demonstrates that the Munn majority, while concerned about the American constitutional tradition relating to liberty, was even more influenced by another constitutional tradition that runs equally deep. It was a tradition that emphasized popular sovereignty and that placed property rights in the context of balancing individual freedom and the needs of a democratically governed society. From this perspective Munn , instead of being a steppingstone for development of a doctrine that emphasized economic liberty, might better be described as a last gasp for the antebellum legal tradition that emphasized rights of the community as a limit on property.

Instead of balancing property right against right of the community it used a model of individual right versus government power, and it narrowly defined the reach of that power. Bancroft, ELY, James W. Paul Railway v.


Peter, Morrison R. Waite, University of South Carolina Press, Munn v. Illinois , 94 U. Peter Railroad v. Blake , 94 U. Ackley , 94 U. Wisconsin , 95 U. Iowa , 94 U. Coleman , 94 U.

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Munn , 94 U. Harris to W.

The Gilded Age, Part 4. by ProjectGutenberg | Teaching Resources

Hepburn, March 20, , R. Walker to O. Browning, April 20, , J. Walker suggested that bondholders seek injunctions in the federal courts against the company and the railroad commission. Walker to J. Dennison, July 10, , J. Denison to Jacob B. Jewett, October 15, , J. Denison to N. Beckwith, April 7, , J.

See, J. See also, Miller, Railroads supra note 3, at Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward , 17 U. See as an example Holyoke v. Lyman , 82 U. Peik v. Chicago and Northwestern Railway Company , 94 U. Field used Stone v. Wisconsin , 94 U. Field actually claims that the majority misses an opportunity to define the limits of the power of the states over corporations.

Two recent studies that emphasize the importance of popular sovereignty are Christian G. Charles River Bridge v.

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