During the Garfield and Arthur administrations, opposition to the strength of railroads in the USA grew. Rates for shipping goods on the railroad increased, as did the wealth of railroad executives. Meanwhile, the larger railroads began to assimilate smaller railroads and thereby cut out lower cost competition.
As the year 1882 began, an anti-monopolist movement grew in strength in the state legislatures, particularly in New York and New Jersey, where the Democrats had tenuous majorities.
In the elections of 1882, the anti-monopolist sentiment was divided among the Democrats, the Greenbackers, and candidates running as Anti-Monopolists. The bulk of these candidates ran on the Democratic ticket. Candidates appeared on the Anti-Monopoly Party label in IL and NE in 1882. In the latter state, Republicans secured only 51% of the seats in the legislature, some of whom were anti-monopolists. Anti-monopolist agitators played a seminal role in the election of Grover Cleveland as Governor of New York State.
The Anti-Monopoly Party held its organizational national convention on 7/4/1883 in Chicago. It was attended by 250 delegates from 13 states and two territories. The convention approved a party platform which called for government regulation of railroads. (NYT 7/5/1883)
The fortunes of the party turned sour during 1883. Railroad companies, becoming more regulated on the state level, were willing to reduce their rates to placate irate farmers. The New York Times printed a list of all candidates in the 1883 off-year elections on 11/5/1883, which did not mention any Anti-Monopolist candidates.
The sole national nominating convention of the party, held in 1884, turned into a farce when party leaders asked the railroads to give reduced rate tickets to the delegates. Delegates from Michigan and Illinois formed half of the entire convention, and they convinced the delegates to nominate Gov. Benjamin F. Butler for President over the vocal opposition of eastern delegates. The convention did not nominate a candidate for vice president, and on 8/16/1884 the party executive committee endorsed A.M. West, the Greenback candidate for vice president.
Throughout the campaign of 1884, the Anti-Monopoly Party disintegrated due to hardships in working with Greenbackers. Most New York anti-monopolists bolted and supported Cleveland for President. On election day, party candidates only appeared on the ballot for local offices in two states.
A nascent party organization survived in Kansas until 1886, when it ran candidates in the midterm elections.