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Sherman Antitrust Act

Growth Of A Trust In The Late Nineteenth Century, What Is A Trust?, Congress Passes The Sherman Antitrust Act Of 1890

Excerpt from the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890

Reprinted from The Statutes at Large and Proclamations of the United States of America from December, 1889, to March, 1891, Vol. XXVI

Published in 1891

Since 1890 the Sherman Antitrust Act has been the key law representing America's commitment to a free market economy. A free market economy, one where competition operates free from private or government restraints, assures the best goods and services at the lowest prices for consumers. The Sherman Antitrust Act outlaws any business "combination" or "conspiracy" that unreasonably restrains trade or commerce between states and foreign nations.

In the act, restraining trade or commerce means hindering or preventing competition. Agreements or "conspiracies" among competitors to fix prices, rig a bidding process for a contract, or divide up a customer base are all examples of illegal competition. The act also forbids a company to "monopolize or attempt to monopolize" a product or service by using unreasonable or unfair methods. A business monopoly is the complete control over the manufacture and distribution of a product, or control of a service by one company thereby eliminating competition.

"Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise . . . of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is hereby declared illegal."

For More Information


Hovenkamp, Herbert. Antitrust. St. Paul, MN: West Group, 1999.

Shenefield, John H., and Irwin M. Stelzer. Antitrust Laws: A Primer. Washington, DC: AEI Press, 2001.

The Statutes at Large and Proclamations of the United States of America from December 1889 to March 1891, Vol. XXVI. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1891.

Web Sites

"An Antitrust Primer." Federal Trade Commission. http://www.ftc.gov/bc/compguide/antitrst.htm (accessed on August 19, 2004).

"Price Fixing, Bid Rigging, and Market Allocation Schemes: What They Are and What to Look For." U.S. Department of Justice. http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/public/guidelines/primer-ncu.htm (accessed on August 19, 2004).

"Report Possible Antitrust Violations." U.S. Department of Justice: Antitrust Division. http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/contact/newcase.htm (accessed on August 19, 2004).

"The Sherman Act." St. Olaf College. http://www.stolaf.edu/people/becker/antitrust/statutes/sherman.html (accessed on August 19, 2004).

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal Law