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Archive for June 21st, 2011

Unknown Truths about a Famous Antitrust Father

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I just read a short and interesting piece by W. Kolasky on the life of one of the most anonymous antitrust celebrities: John Sherman. A few things worth keeping in mind:

1. John Sherman’s name has been used by the British army to name Medium Tanks M4. In the British army, it is conventional to name American-built tanks after famous Civil War generals. Whilst John Sherman was a politician, his brother, William Tecumseh Sherman was one of the most famous Union Generals during the civil war.

2. The Sherman Act originates in a bid to protect tariff regulations that promoted domestic US industrial interests (!). In the late XIXth century, the democrats alleged that protective tariffs had caused the spread of domestic trusts. Sherman, a Republican and a fierce defender of tariff legislation, sought to rebuff the link between the rise of trusts and tariffs. Eventually, to reduce pressure to abolish tariff legislation, the republicans were left with no other choice but to promote anti-trust legislation (p.86).

3. Following years of fierce parliamentary debate (p.87), the final version of the Act was expunged of most of the wording initially proposed by Sherman, and replaced by the text that we know  (p.87).  The disappointed J. Sherman later commented that this change in wording would deprive the bill of all effectiveness. He is quoted to have said that the bill would be “totally ineffective in dealing with combinations and Trusts. All corporations can ride through it or over it without fear of punishment or detection.” (p.88)

PS: Some law firms, like WilmerHale, follow an open-access publication policy. Most papers written by their lawyers are publicly available on their website. Nice.

Written by Nicolas Petit

21 June 2011 at 6:01 pm