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Interstate Commerce Act of 1887


Before 1887, railroads were exclusively privately owned and unregulated, but as their scope and influence grew, the autonomy of railway companies became a liability. The Interstate Commerce Act gives the federal government authority over railways that operated between states and requires those companies to charge fair rates to customers. The law also creates the Interstate Commerce Commission, which is initially responsible for investigating and prosecuting unlawful activities committed by railroad companies. Its scope of authority includes automobile and water shipping until its closure in 1995.