Necessary Fraud: Progressive Reform and Utah Coal

Necessary Fraud: Progressive Reform and Utah Coal

by Nancy J. Taniguchi
     
 

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the State of Utah was the federal choice for what was intended to be a definitive antitrust suit aimed at quelling the power of western railroads over coal lands in the diminishing public domain. The government did not achieve this primary. objective, but through decades of litigation it did force the passage of a realistic coal-land…  See more details below

Overview

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the State of Utah was the federal choice for what was intended to be a definitive antitrust suit aimed at quelling the power of western railroads over coal lands in the diminishing public domain. The government did not achieve this primary. objective, but through decades of litigation it did force the passage of a realistic coal-land law and develop precedents for its application.

Using century-old photographs and copious documentation, Nancy J. Taniguchi creates a legal history of land fraud in Utah's turn-of-the-century coal fields that intertwines national, regional, and local events. Necessary Fraud transcends parochialism to become a compelling exposition on the era of progressive reform.

Alternating between actions in Utah and in Washington, D.C., the book traces a series of coal-land cases that passed through the courts and government agencies as Congress struggled to reform the Coal Land Act of 1873. As the story moves between courtroom and coal field, the collusion between railroads and coal companies becomes ever clearer.

Taniguchi's portrait of President Theodore Roosevelt contrasts sharply with his image as trust-buster, and she reveals for the first time the depth of involvement of both the State of Utah and the Mormon Church in the land frauds.

Many readers will find in Necessary Fraud some unspoken questions: What is today's equivalent of this finde-siecle wheeling and dealing on the fringes of the public domain? Will current attempts at reforming the mining law of 1872 require the same tortuous process as the one described here? Have we learned anything from our past?

To get a better feel for her subject, Taniguchi, ahistorian, went underground. There she personally mined six tons of coal. And she uncovered the workings of judges and politicians, big business and bureaucracy. This is scholarship with its sleeves rolled up.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
A legal history of land fraud in Utah's turn-of-the-century coal fields, intertwining national, regional, and local events and reflecting the era of progressive reform. Traces a series of coal-land cases as Congress struggled to reform the Coal Land Act of 1873, describing the collusion between railroads and coal companies, President T. Roosevelt's involvement, and the actions of the State of Utah and the Mormon Church. Includes b&w photos. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780806128184
Publisher:
University of Oklahoma Press
Publication date:
01/28/1996
Series:
Legal History of North America Series, #3
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.41(w) x 9.52(h) x 1.21(d)

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