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(5) It classified violations as misdemeanors subject to a fine of $5,000 or not over a year's imprisonment or both.
There is little doubt but that the attitude of public opinion towards trusts, as a result of which the anti-trust act was passed, was largely the outcome of hostility engendered by such corporations as the Standard Oil Company, the Cordage Trust, the Salt Trust, the Wire Trust, the Whiskey Trust, and the Sugar Trust. This law came into being because of widespread commercial abuses prior to a period of low prices in the depression of 1893-95. The states had chartered many corporations with powers that placed little or no restraint upon their practices, resulting in an extremely lax standard of interstate competition. Consolidations pursued highhanded methods toward competitors by price reductions, only to advance quotations later. Sellers' agreements bound distributors to exclusive contracts. Vast reserves of raw materials were bought up for control far in advance of need. Consolidated properties were grossly over-capitalized. Dividends were juggled to induce sales of securities to the public. Minority stockholders and the rights of subsidiaries were inadequately protected. The progress of monopoly within the different fields of trade and industry became such as to cause genuine alarm. Especially throughout the mercantile and the consuming worlds was this feeling extant. The
spread of combination in manufacturing industries through the control of markets had brought about an economic revolution, and the Anti-Trust Act of 1890 was a carefully considered answer to that tendency by some of our wisest statesmen. It was their hope that by giving the common law of the land a statutory form the courts might correct the abuses of the times by remedies in keeping with the equity traditions of free industry and fair trading. Its scope was no doubt intended to be essentially industrial, and not until 1897 was it determined that it applied to railroads. It received its first illuminating construction, in its commercial imports, according to Governor Charles E. Hughes of New York, nine years after its passage in the Addyston pipe case. Only by slow stages did the courts ascertain in the course of years what Congress meant. As interpreted from time to time it was no doubt a potent instrument, as President Seth Low of the National Civic Federation declares, in promoting the concentration of commerce in few hands. Gradually it extended its scope until manufacturing, railroads, labor organizations, and others, as well as commerce, were made amenable to it.
2. Investigations of Trust Conditions
It cannot fairly be said that anti-trust legislation or decisions have been reached without due inquiry. In no part of the administrative pro
cedure under the anti-trust statutes has there been more careful mastery of the merits of the case than in the preliminary investigations following complaints. Much of the information relating to the history and practices of trusts has been gathered by the Bureau of Corporations in the Department of Commerce and Labor, a Bureau which President Roosevelt had hoped to arm with administrative powers ample enough to correct many abuses of trust methods. These inquiries went far to establish the essential facts in the industrial and commercial record of leading trusts. A far more thorough-going agency of investigation and of administrative control was later provided in the Federal Trade Commission (September 26, 1914), into which the Bureau of Corporations was incorporated.
Five large industries which this Bureau of Corporations investigated have all been subjected to prosecutions more or less effective in modifying their status under the trust law. Beginning with the beef industry under the House resolution of March 7, 1904, the subjects of petroleum (Standard Oil Co., 1907), of tobacco (American Tobacco Co., 1909, 1911), of the steel industry (1911, 1912), and the International Harvester Company (1913), were all investigated in the course of eight years. In nearly every case of an industry investigated the prosecution which followed resulted in conviction in the courts.
There were five separate inquiries on the part of Congress which bore directly on the trust question. All of them looked to the disclosure of conditions or the proposal of remedies for abuses actual or imagined. These congressional investigations include two in 1911-12. One took the form of hearings before the Senate Committee on Interstate Commerce and the other of hearings before a House Committee on the investigation of the American Sugar Refining Company.
Of other legislative investigations by far the most elaborate were the Stanley investigation into the steel corporation (1912) and that of the Pujo Money Trust investigation into the concentration and control of money and credit (1913). Trust legislation was the subject of extended hearings before the House Committee on the Judiciary (1913-14), also before the Senate Committee for Interstate Commerce of the same period. A veritable mine of detailed information is to be found in the Reports of the Industrial Commission made between 1898 and 1902.
These more scientific inquiries, as compared with the congressional hearings, all had the merit of disclosing actual conditions, analyzing them in their more vital aspects, and summarizing the methods and results. One of the best specimens of governmental inquiry is found in the report by the Bureau of Corporations on the Interna
tional Harvester Company's organization, capitalization, profits, and competitive methods. It finds that the three principal factors responsible for the position attained by this company were (1) combination of competitors; (2) superior command of capital; (3) certain objectionable competitive methods. Next to the combination of principal competing companies, amounting to what was regarded as a monopolistic control of the harvesting machine business proper, was the company's exceptional command of capital. In the company's formation its working capital was provided for to the extent of $60,000,000. The full amount of this was actually paid in cash, so far as the investigation of the accounts goes. The objectionable competitive methods were regarded as rather incidental to the mainspring of its power, namely, the consolidation of the country's leading competitive plants in the industry with vast resources of working capital, enormously enhancing its competitive power.
3. Prosecutions Under the Anti-Trust Act
Prosecutions under the Anti-Trust Act were few and far between during the first three federal administrations. Although enacted early in the second year of Harrison's presidency (1889-93), only eleven bills in equity, five indictments, and two informations for contempt comprised the eighteen cases brought before the courts in the first eleven and a half years of the Act. Dur