Cover

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pp. 1-7

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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Series Editor’s Preface

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pp. xi-xiv

On the rare occasions when I am awake before sunrise, I have been aware of the dim glow in the sky that heralds the beginning of another day. At the same time it remains a matter of conjecture exactly where over the horizon the sun will actually appear. ...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xv-xvi

Every major research project is, for me, something of a journey. This one has taken me across the nation in search of information and into subjects of which I had little knowledge before I started. Now that I have finished, it is a plea sure to be able finally to thank the many people who have helped me along the way. ...

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Introduction: Traditional Court, Turbulent Times

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pp. 1-14

“THE PANIC: EXCITEMENT IN WALL STREET”—that was the headline greeting readers of the New York Times on the morning of September 19, 1873. The panic of the previous day, Thursday, September 18, had begun with a brief notice that Jay Cooke & Co. had suspended payments to its depositors. ...

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1. Waite, Waite, Don’t Tell Me

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pp. 15-31

Morrison R. Waite was not President Grant’s first choice to fill the seat that had become vacant when Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase died in May 1873. Quite to the contrary, the president’s efforts to replace the deceased chief justice lasted eight months and was at times such a fiasco that one member of Congress sarcastically suggested a bill to abolish the chief justiceship ...

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2. Freedom Detoured

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pp. 32-52

Although Justice Miller had emphasized that the pervading purpose of the post–Civil War amendments was “freedom of the slave race” and “the protection of the newly made freeman and citizens from oppression,” neither the Slaughterhouse Cases nor Bartemeyer nor Bradwell involved protecting the rights of African Americans. ...

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3. After the Compromise

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pp. 53-61

In the wake of emancipation Radical Republicans were determined to use the might of the federal government to guarantee full equality for blacks. This wing of the party successfully urged the Republican-dominated Congress to enact laws designed to achieve that goal. The last of these ambitious Reconstruction statutes was the Civil Rights Act of 1875, ...

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4. Romancing the Rails

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pp. 62-77

On March 1, 1877, while Rutherford B. Hayes was traveling by special train to his inauguration, Chief Justice Waite announced one of the most significant cases of the era. In Munn v. Illinois the Court upheld an Illinois law that set maximum rates that grain elevators in the city of Chicago could charge for storage.1 ...

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5. The Last Gasp of the Rights of the Community

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pp. 78-89

Munn v. Illinois differed from the other Granger Cases in that it did not involve a railroad, and it did not involve a corporation. The defendant in this case was Munn & Scott, a partnership that owned and operated grain elevators along the Chicago River. The case began when Munn and Scott was charged with violating an Illinois law that set maximum rates ...

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6. Too Big to Be Allowed to Fail

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pp. 90-97

Eighteen seventy-seven was a tumultuous year in the United States, and it was not a good year for railroads. In July, a little more than a half year after the disputed presidential election and the Supreme Court’s decision in Munn, the country faced its first nationwide labor uprising. ...

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7. Sinking Fund

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pp. 98-109

In 1867 Francis Train, a powerful director of the Union Pacific Railroad, devised a surefire way to make some money. Train established a trust company, Crédit Mobilier of America, which was completely owned by a small group of directors of the Union Pacific. The group soon became known as the Pacific Railroad Ring. ...

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8. A Change Is Gonna Come

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pp. 110-125

Historians have maintained that railroad attorneys entered into a deliberate campaign to overturn the effects of Munn, the Sinking Fund Cases, and their progeny, and that the Court quickly moved away from the principles it had adopted in Munn. This observation is accurate enough, but cast in a wide beam from a twenty-first-century light, ...

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9. Interstate Commerce

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pp. 126-134

The commercial revolution and emergence of a national economy posed new challenges for the traditional thinking about federalism and interstate commerce. The Waite Court responded with a body of precedent that perplexed even the most esteemed experts of the time. Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution gives Congress the power to regulate commerce ...

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10. The Big Country

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pp. 135-150

After the end of the war with Mexico in 1848, President James Polk bragged that the acquisition of former Mexican territories of California and New Mexico “constituted of themselves a country large enough for a great empire.”1 Combined with the acquisition of the Oregon Territory from the British and the admission of Texas as a state, ...

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11. Equal Rights: Tales of the Old West

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pp. 151-161

In cases involving civil rights for blacks the Waite Court tended to look backward for its cues; it was reluctant to create new rights, was influenced by an antebellum ideal of federalism, and was hesitant to expand its own authority. These tendencies traced back to Cruikshank and Reese in 1876 and continued through the Civil Rights Cases and beyond. ...

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Conclusion: Legacy of the Waite Court

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pp. 162-172

On October 27 and 28, 1887, about five months before Chief Justice Waite’s death, the Court heard arguments in a case involving August Spies and several other men who had been convicted of murder by an Illinois trial court. The defendants had appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court, which upheld the conviction. ...

Notes

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pp. 173-206

Index of Cases

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pp. 207-210

Subject Index

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pp. 211-219