Resolution from the San Bernardino County Fruit Exchange, December 12, 1905
Small farmers were hit particularly hard by railroad companies’ pricing practices, such as anticompetitive rate fixing and charging higher prices for short-haul rather than for long-haul transport. Fruit growers of San Bernardino County, California, were among many agricultural organizations and independent farmers who pressed Congress to grant the Interstate Commerce Commission the power to regulate the railroads.
Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, National Archives and Records Administration
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as the representatives of hundreds of citrus fruit growers, and having shipped more than 1400 carloads of oranges and lemons during the past season, . . .We specifically agree . . . that the only constitutional and effective method for the supervision of rates, classifications and practices, is by the amending of the Interstate Commerce Act
Regulating the Railroads
The Hepburn Railway Regulation Act of 1906 was a major legislative achievement of the Progressive Era. With this act, Congress strengthened the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), expanding its authority and empowering it to set railroad rates, institute standardized accounting practices, and require rail companies to file annual reports. These new regulations helped curb abuses that had made the railroads one of the nation’s most powerful industries. Introduced in the House and opposed in the Senate, the legislation passed only after extensive negotiation between the chambers.
[This legislation] will aid toward minifying a number of wrongs; it will give greater contentment to all the people in the belief that they are not being made the puppet and the football of [railroad] carriers.
Representative William P. Hepburn of Iowa, Speech to the U.S. House of Representatives, February 7, 1906