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Encyclopedia > Trust Busting

Trust-busting refers to government activities designed to break up trusts or monopolies. Theodore Roosevelt is the U.S. president most associated with dissolving trusts, but his chosen successor, William Howard Taft, actually began the most anti-trust proceedings.


Trusts were large business entities that largely succeeded in controlling a market, essentially becoming a monopoly. The term became common in the late 19th century, when a system of trusts controlled much of the economy of the United States. In 1898, President William McKinley launched the "trust-busting" era when he appointed the U.S. Industrial Commission on trusts, which interrogated Carnegie, Rockefeller, Schwab, and other industrial titans. The report of the Industrial Commission was seized upon by Theodore Roosevelt, who based much of his presidency on "trust-busting".


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