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Real History': Boston Molasses Disaster and the Birth of Government Regulation on Business

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In 1919, one of the most bizarre and tragic accidents in American History took place. A molasses distillery in Boston’s North End, then (as now) a largely Italian neighborhood, had an explosion that produced a flood of molasses in the streets. Twenty-one people were killed, 150 injured. This moment in history produced two things: one of the first class action lawsuits, and the first time businesses had to face government regulation. After this Massachusetts required engineering and construction regulation – that regulation spread across the country and was built upon. The accident and its longterm political impact were the subject of this week's "Real History" segment:

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