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Sherman Antitrust Act

THE SHERMAN Antitrust Act of 1890 provided the first, and what remains the most important legal basis for efforts to break up exploitative monopolies and commercial behaviors, such as price-fixing agreements, that produce concentrations of economic power. The act was sponsored by Senator John Sherman (1823–1900) of Ohio, who had declared: “If we will not endure a king as a political power, we should not endure a king over the production, transportation, and sale of any of the necessities of life.” The Sherman Act, as Lawrence Friedman has noted, was surprisingly brief: less than two pages in length. The law is, Friedman observes, “terse,” “vague,” and “ambiguous.” Notably absent are definitions of such key terms as “monopoly” and “restraint of trade.”

The heart of the Sherman ...

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