Elkins Act 32 Stat. 847 (1903)

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ELKINS ACT 32 Stat. 847 (1903)

The decisions in interstate commerce commission v. cincinnati, new orleans & texas pacific railway (1897) and its companion case, ICC v. Alabama Midland Railway Company, had stripped the Interstate Commerce Commission of much of its regulatory power. As a result, many of the evils the interstate commerce act had been designed to remedy had revived. One of the most pernicious abuses was the practice of rebating. Federal legislation forbidding the practice would not only save the railroads money but also protect them against demands imposed by the trusts. Sponsored by the railroads, the Elkins Act made any deviation from the published rate schedule (whether a rebate or a general rate reduction) a criminal offense. Although Congress repealed the imprisonment penalty, it quadrupled the fine and directly subjected the corporations to the penalty; no longer could the principal escape punishment for its agents' acts. Anyone who sought or received a rebate (or other rate concession) was equally liable to criminal penalties. Despite the act's significance, further legislation would prove necessary. Charges were now enforced, but the ICC was still powerless to replace discriminatory rates. Congress would expand ICC powers and extend regulatory control over the rails in the hepburn and mannelkins acts.

David Gordon


Sharfman, Isaiah L. 1931–1937 The Interstate Commerce Commission. Vol. 1. New York: Commonwealth Fund.

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Elkins Act 32 Stat. 847 (1903)

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