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Sherman Antitrust Act - What Is A Trust?

century term companies oil

In the twenty-first century the word "trust" in a business sense is generally thought of by the public as an arrangement where an individual or "trustee" is appointed to manage the affairs of a child or impaired adult. In the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century the word "trust" was commonly used to describe an arrangement where stockholders of several companies turned over their company shares to a single group of individuals called trustees who then administered and controlled the affairs of the newly combined companies.

Senator John Sherman, after whom the 1890 legislation outlawing trusts and monopolies was named.


The combined companies were called a trust. The stockholders received trust certificates entitling them to receive earnings from the trust. The first large U.S. trust, Standard Oil Trust, was formed in 1882 in Ohio. Nine trustees ran the oil trust and monopolized the oil refinery business in America. The term monopoly is more commonly used and understood in the twenty-first century than the term trust. The two terms can be used interchangeably. Whenever the term antitrust appears in this chapter it could also read as antimonopoly.


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