Sherman Antitrust Act

(1890)

The oldest of America's antitrust laws, the Sherman Antitrust Act was signed into law on July 2, 1890, by President Benjamin Harrison. The Sherman Antitrust Act was the first action taken by the federal government to place limits on business monopolies and cartels and to prevent restraints on trade, such as price fixing. Violations of the act were treated as misdemeanors. The Sherman Antitrust Act, written by the Republican senator John Sherman of Ohio, vested government attorneys and courts with both the authority and the responsibility to seek out and investigate suspected violators of the terms specified in the act. The original intention of the Sherman Antitrust Act was to protect consumers from big businesses that were using unscrupulous means to raise prices artificially, such as intentionally producing too few goods to meet consumer demand and thereby driving up the products' value and price. As one of the Sherman Antitrust Act's supporters, the Massachusetts senator...

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Senator John Sherman of Ohio (Library of Congress)

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