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Northern Securities Co. v. United States

Northern Securities--legitimate Business Or Monopoly?, Further Readings


Northern Securities Company


United States

Appellant's Claim

That the Northern Securities holding company did not represent a conspiracy in restraint of trade under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

Chief Lawyers for Appellant

John W. Griggs, George B. Young, John G. Johnson

Chief Lawyers for Appellee

Philander Chase Knox, U.S. Attorney General; William A. Day

Justices for the Court

David Josiah Brewer, Henry Billings Brown, William Rufus Day, John Marshall Harlan I (writing for the Court), Joseph McKenna

Justices Dissenting

Melville Weston Fuller, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Rufus Wheeler Peckham, Edward Douglass White


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

14 March 1904


That the Northern Securities Company was a trust in the meaning of the law, and that it was a combination in restraint of trade, and that the Sherman Anti-Trust law did apply.


By upholding the ruling of the Circuit Court of Minnesota, which had held that the Northern Securities Company was an illegal combination in restraint of trade, the Supreme Court put a stop to further combination in railroad companies. Furthermore, the court ruled that the Sherman Act could be used to break up companies already formed, paving the way for more vigorous antitrust litigation. However, the dissents in the case paved the way for "reasonable" monopolies.

Related Cases

  • Munn v. Illinois, 94 U.S. 113 (1876).
  • In re Debs, 158 U.S. 564 (1895).
  • United States v. E. C. Knight, 156 U.S. 1 (1895).
  • Allegeyer v. Louisiana, 165 U.S. 578 (1897).
  • Holden v. Hardy, 169 U.S. 366 (1898).

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1883 to 1917