packing firms are independent profitable business'.
Panic of 1873, pork packing
becomes a losing business.
The packers in St. Louis, Louisville and
Cincinnati are buying and killing.
By the time the
bacon is put on the market Philip Danforth
Armour has flooded the market.
from a long line of pig butchers and meat-packers: Armour.
not-too-distant relatives were responsible for such ingenious inventions as the
refrigerated train car and the "kill floor," and ultimately the meat-oriented
status of the modern American diet.
Armour owned a business which
bought hogs from local farmers for delivery to slaughterers and packers.
The demands of the hungry
Union armies during the Civil
War created a boom in pork and the Armour brothers prospered - and
In a business move that might
land you in jail Philip took advantage of artificially swollen food prices
toward the end of 1864 and sold
futures to pork barrels he did not possess for delivery in the spring of
1865 when, he gambled, the War would be
ending and prices would have fallen.
gamble paid off, and netted a two million
profit at the expense
of disgruntled traders and government merchants." - Jeffrey Armour Nelson
1869 Two years after the Armour packing house is
built in Chicago six thousand hogs are being killed a day.
originates a number of assembly line slaughtering
techniques, the use of
waste products and the sale of canned meat.
Armour packing houses in
Kansas City and Omaha are almost as
extensive as the Chicago establishment.
Packers in St. Louis, Cincinnati
and Louisville, lose money year after year until they finally go
"Employees worked as much as 18 hours a day in
dangerous, unclean, unsanitary conditions.
There always seemed to
be another new young man available and willing to step in and take the hammer,
knife or saw whenever an employee would lose a finger, hand, eye - or stomach
for the job.
The Armours were ruthless competitors; they would open a
retail outlet in every city and flood the market with their products, selling
them at such ridiculously low prices the local butchers and outlets could not
Townsfolk took to Armour meat with the intensity of
When the local
competition was forced to close their doors and leave their business as they
could not match Armour's prices - Armour would then raise prices and completely
control availability and pricing.
Armour, using this
technique, drove thousands
of smaller operators who had been in the butchery business for years into
Monopolistic business practices caused a tumult when US
soldiers in the Spanish-American
War died from eating meat canned by Armour.
Armour and his
competitors permission of sawdust, rats, animal feces, and portions of animals
heretofore considered inedible being used in the production of "meat" products
eventually got the attention of Congress.
The Sherman Anti-Trust Act is
enacted to protect the public from the unscrupulous business practices of the
Armours and fellow "robber barons."
Years after its enactment, the
Armours were indicted for violations of the Sherman Act based
on testimony they gave before Congress in which they revealed the very
incriminating details of their business practices.
silver-tongued lawyer of the
day retained by the Armours argued that they should be able to invoke --
retroactively -- their Fifth Amendment right not to implicate themselves, and
thus prevent the introduction at trial of their own previous damning testimony
before Congress, and prevent the introduction of all the evidence procured as a
result of that testimony.
On the eve of trial, after a jury had been
empaneled, a judge accepted the lawyer's argument and dismissed the case
against the Armours.
The newspapers of the
day proclaimed derisively that the Armours' lawyer had given them
an 'immunity bath.'
" - Jeffrey Armour Nelson
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