National Constitution CenterCenturies of Citizenship: A Constitutional Timeline Exhibit
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1886-1906: We encounter prosperity and its perils in an industrial age

January 21, 1895
In the E.C. Knight case, the Court lets the sugar monopoly stand

Illustration of the United States being swallowed by monopoly

When a single trust company bought up 98% of the country’s sugar refineries, President Cleveland’s administration took the company to court for violating the new Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

But the Supreme Court ruled against the government.

Congress’s power over interstate commerce, it says, doesn’t mean it can regulate production. That power, the Court says, belongs to each state. Preserving state “autonomy” is vital to preserving our Constitution’s “dual form of government.”

Only Justice Harlan disagrees. The Constitution, he protests, doesn’t put the federal government in “such a condition of helplessness.”

And how, he asks, can any state possibly control the operations of national companies?

Read about it in the New York times

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