Monopolies and Trusts

How and why did American business seek to eliminate competition.

As business expanded natural predatory instincts took over as
companies sought to eliminate competition. It was survival of the
fittest in an economy which did not regulate business – laissez
faire, social Darwinism, rugged individualism where the themes of the

Clearly the natural conclusion of laissez faire capitalism, or
pure competition, is the end of competition itself. It is the natural
goal of any business to make as much profit as it can and to
eliminate its competition. When a corporation eliminates its
competition it becomes what is known as a “monopoly.”

Monopolies took several organization forms including what were
known as trusts.


Stockholders of several competing corporations turn in
their stock to trustees in exchange for a trust certificate entitling
them to a dividend. Trustees ran the companies as if they were one.

This political cartoon published The Verdict on July 10, 1899 by
C. Gordon Moffat shows an America controlled by the trusts.


To the public all monopolies were known simply as “trusts.” These
trusts has an enormous impact on the American economy. They became
huge economic and political forces. They were able to manipulate
price and quality without regard for the laws of supply and demand.
Basic economic principles no longer applied They also had great
political power. Trusts were extremely influential in Congress and in
the Senate. Some even accused the trusts of “buying” votes. Although
many Americans still regarded men like John D. Rockefeller as
“Captains of Industry,” more and more people began to publicly
question the tactics of the “Robber Barons.” As trusts grew ever more
powerful and wealth became concentrated in fewer and fewer hands,
animosity towards the new businessmen and the new methods of doing
business increased tremendously.