« ForrigeFortsett »
ing the next seven and a half years of Roosevelt's administration forty-four cases were brought, compared with eighty-nine in the four years under President Taft. Each of these presidential terms was marked by some phase of progress in the application of the statute to the trust situation. The Act was being interpreted judicially and, so to speak, applied by experiment. A convenient record is given below in tabular form of the prosecutions under the Anti-Trust Act from July 2, 1890, to September 12, 1913.
Evidently the turn in the enforcement of this statute toward the far-reaching application of its later history came shortly after 1900. Ninety per cent of the prosecutions occurred during the latter half of the Act's history.
"The decision of the Supreme Court sustains, beyond controversy, the proposition that every contract, combination in the form of trust
or otherwise, or conspiracy having for its purpose, or directly and necessarily affecting the control of prices, suppression of competition, creation of a monopoly, or other obstruction or restraint of trade or commerce among the states, is made illegal by the Sherman Act; and that every person who shall make such contract, or engage in such combination or conspiracy, is guilty of a misdemeanor and liable to fine and imprisonment.” *
Wherever it could be shown by the facts in the case that agreements, contracts or trusts existed "with the obvious intention of restricting output, dividing territory, fixing prices, excluding competition," or attempting to monopolize commerce, there the policy of the administration became one of punishment and prevention. Where no intention of violating the law was evident, civil proceedings to restrain continuance without instituting criminal proceedings was the rule followed. The Department of Justice on its own account carefully investigated all complaints of combinations and conspiracies in violation of the Act of July 2, 1890. Many of these complaints proved to be without warrant and others without the hope of the federal jurisdiction.†
The activity of the Department of Justice may be gauged by the fact that in the fiscal year *The Attorney General's Report, 1910.
Ibid, 1913, p. 2.
ending June 30, 1913, there had been ten antitrust cases pending, while in the official report covering the next fiscal year there were twentysix different combinations under prosecution, including the coal, powder, shoe machinery, sugar, oil, and tobacco trust cases.
4. General Results of Trust Dissolution
Much criticism has been spent on account of alleged shortcomings in the dissolution of the trusts under adverse decisions of the Federal courts. Most of this has been directed against the oil and tobacco cases. The main contention has been that the decrees did not go far enough. Neither of these decrees required any change in individual ownership other than that of distribution pro rata among the stockholders of the combination. It was contended, however, especially by Assistant Attorney General McReynolds, later Attorney General of the United States, and still later Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, that in order to make dissolution effective a change in ownership, obliging the reorganizers to find outside purchasers for millions of dollars worth of security should have been insisted upon.
Another criticism held that no dissolution could be satisfactory to injured parties, for offenses of which the tobacco or oil trust were pronounced guilty, without provision being made for the recovery of triple damages con
tained in Section 7 of the Anti-trust Act. The court, however, did not deem this necessary, as part of the "plan or method of dissolving the combination and of recreating, out of the elements now composing it, a new condition which shall be honestly in harmony with and not repugnant to the law."*
That competition has ensued among the constituent corporations, into which the tobacco company was dissolved, is well known to those who have taken the trouble to inform themselves about the facts. The decree divided the trust into four large companies, and the result has been, in the eyes of competent judges, "a genuine, strong competition between these four companies by advertising and cutting prices, so that the small so-called independent companies, in the face of the competition between the large companies, have been far less comfortable than under the tolerance of the tobacco trust. The four companies into which the trust was divided are trying to get business one from the other. They are not trying to drive independent companies out of business, but their purpose to win business in competition with one another leads them to great effort and expense." +
On the same authority, the objection to the tobacco decree is that it did not divide up the companies into small enough pieces to prevent *American Tobacco Decision, p. 27.
† W. H. Taft, N. Y. Sunday Times, 1914.
effective competition- a result which would, it is claimed, have been foreign to the purpose of the statute and economically unreasonable. In the Standard Oil case, the argument against the effectiveness of the decree, as President Taft claimed, "is based on the fact that after the decree was put into operation the stock in the individual companies increased greatly in value." This result arose from the necessity of distributing equities which disclosed to the market large values hitherto not fully appreciated.
It appears from the facts thus presented that the Federal Department of Justice, aided by other inquiries, has made substantial progress in providing an effective control through equity suits whereby the essential evils in trust organization and practice are being exorcised from interstate commerce. The virtue of this control, quite contrary to "big business" expectation, lies not only in preventing the abuses and wastes of unfair competition but also in curbing the tendencies to monopoly or illegal combination.
This restoration of economic freedom is accomplished by means of the injunction. Under this form of administrative procedure a method is being developed capable of relieving trade among the states of any illegal condition, whether it arises from predatory competition or from trade-restraining combination. To make competition salutary, to establish freedom and fairness within the market-that is the goal of