What was the motivation of the Sherman Antitrust Act?

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The Sherman Antitrust Act was passed for a few reasons. One reason was because the number of big businesses was increasing at an alarming rate. Through mergers, monopolies, and pooling arrangements, business seemed to get bigger and bigger. With these business arrangements, consumers were being hurt. Less competition usually means higher prices and fewer choices. This is good for businesses and bad for consumers. The increasing size of businesses also hurt workers. Workers found it much more difficult to get a pay raise or improved working conditions. The pressure was growing on Congress to do something. Thus, this law was passed. Unfortunately, the law was so vaguely worded that it really didn’t accomplish much. Courts didn’t rule against big businesses because the law was very unclear. In 1899 alone, over 1200 business mergers occurred. Thus, a good idea didn’t achieve the intended results.

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