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Next!, by Udo Keppler, Puck, September 7, 1904

Here, Standard Oil is depicted as an octopus seizing industries and the Capitol, while stretching out for the White House.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Next!, by Udo Keppler, Puck, September 7, 1904

Beginnings of Reform 1912-1913

After the phenomenal industrial growth of the late 1800s, reformers feared that unregulated big business would use its influence for private gain at the expense of public good.

The House, responding to these concerns, established a special investigation panel, headed by Representative Arsene Pujo of Louisiana. It summoned captains of industry and top investment bankers (the so-called Money Trust), parading them before the committee and the press. The hearings exposed corrupt ties between banks and dozens of railroads, manufacturers, and utilities. These findings provided momentum for Congress to pass much-needed reforms, including the Federal Reserve Bank Act of 1913, which created a federally regulated banking system.