Interstate Commerce Act of 1887

The Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 regulated the railroad industry, especially its monopolistic practices. The measure, approved on February 4, 1887, made railroads the first industry subject to federal regulation.

The measure required railroads to publicize their shipping rates and that the rates be “reasonable and just.” The law also created a five-member enforcement board, the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), to oversee railroads and ensure they complied.

Following the Civil War, railroads were unregulated, and many railroads held monopolies in areas where they were the only service provider, giving them the power to control the market, exclude competitors and set prices.

Congress passed the law in response to public demand for railroad regulation.

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