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Such has been the paradox at the heart of socialism ever since.
The Populist movement, a reform movement attempting to combat the negative effects of industrialization and the rise of big business, was now in full swing.
Beginning at the state level and with strong support in many urban areas, a new progressive movement reached the national level during the first years of the 20th century.
Farmers were upset at what they regarded as arbitrary and excessive railroad rates and abuses such as rebates to big business like Standard Oil.
These farmers were among the first and most outspoken advocates of reform in the late 19th century.
Supported by President Theodore Roosevelt, progressive reformers, like the Populists, sought to strengthen railroad regulation and both enforce and further strengthen the antitrust laws.
In 1902, President Roosevelt not only forced mine owners to submit to arbitration to settle a nationwide coal strike, he also asked his attorney general to file an antitrust suit against the Northern Securities Company, a large railroad holding company.
Pressure from the Farmers’ Alliances convinced Congress to pass and President Cleveland to sign the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887, a piece of legislation designed to regulate railroad rates and prohibit corrupt practices such as rebates.
By 1890, these Farmers’ Alliances had entered politics in a number of Southern and Midwestern states and succeeded in pressuring Congress to pass the Sherman Antitrust Act, outlawing all “combinations in restraint of trade.” By 1892, a national People’s Party had been organized, nominating a third-party presidential candidate and electing several members of Congress.
Many of these "come outers" soon "came out," not only of religious sectarianism, but of theistic belief altogether, becoming explicit "Free Thinkers" or atheists.
Unsurprisingly, the center of the reform movement was New England (especially Boston) and areas further west, like Ohio and then Michigan, where New Englanders were resettling.